I always say that I’m not going to be political on this blog. For the most part, I think I’ve kept my promise. However, when you get down to it, all art is political. It’s about making a statement. I spoke out in Bayou Fire about abolition and equality, just to name an example from my œuvre.
I usually post a sample from one of my books on Saturdays, but I just couldn’t find my way to do that today.
I’ve been following the events of Charlottesville, Virginia, very closely. There are a couple of reasons for it, not the least of which is that I took an excellent historical fiction survey course from one of the professors at UVA.
Part of the reason I’m following it so closely is that I’m horrified by what is happening in our country. It seems that, within six months, almost every bit of civil rights progress we’ve made in the past 100 years is being overturned. White supremacists feel emboldened to express their hate and argue that it’s no different from LGBT Pride, or Black Lives Matter.
But here’s the truth: it is very much different. The invisible privilege knapsack favors white males in particular over any other subset of the population. If you look at the images of protestors from last night in Charlottesville, you see a bunch of angry white men. Period. And what are they angry about? Well, they think that life is like pie … and that someone else (a minority someone else) getting a little bit of equality means that they are taking it away from some white person. Instead of recognizing that equality levels the playing field, they think it’s a zero-sum game.
Over on Twitter, Duncan Jones (David Bowie’s son) said something very interesting, which reminded me of a line from a song in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. In that song, Gaston is firing up a mob to go kill the Beast, and they sing this line: “We don’t like what we don’t understand; in fact it frightens us.”
That put this whole thing in perspective for me. These are people who are afraid of losing their place at the top of the privilege ladder. They see themselves as more deserving than anyone else, strictly by virtue of the color of their skin. And they’re frightened that the color of their skin is no longer enough to make them “better” than the next person.
I strongly considered posting the Dead Kennedys’ Nazi Punks as a bonus track today (you can click the link if you want to hear it), because the song says a lot of things I would want to say to those people in person. Instead, I have chosen to share a video with two of the most powerful protest songs I know, sung on one of the most important occasions in our country’s history: the 1963 March on Washington. We must continue, as Mary Travers says in the commentary, to come together for positive social change. The commentary here is lovely as well.