In the nearly three weeks since white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, many of us have been (rightfully so) discussing ways to combat hate and dismantle systemic racism.
But the truth is, these conversations have always been urgent and necessary. And not just in that large-scale, overwhelming, how-do-we-stop-more-white-supremacists-from-marching kind of way. Our efforts to build a more just and equal society cannot be reactionary, galvanized only by tragedy. They must be happening constantly, in large and small scales, in each of our communities.
This includes our community of writers, editors, and publishers. What happened in Charlottesville is a chilling example of why diverse representation matters in the books and media we consume. It’s a chilling example of why sensitivity reads are not about censorship, but preventing harm. A book that stereotypes its characters of color and a Neo-Nazi march may be two very different things, but they exist on the same plane and slope. No one lights a torch and joins a hate-fueled march without ever having been exposed to ideas that—intentionally or not—dehumanize people who are different from them.
That being said, this is not a post about how to write the other (this, however, is a very good one). This is a post about writers of color, and the kind of help and actions we most need most from our white writer allies. To all who have felt helpless, or asked what you can do, here are some ways to be better allies, compiled by me and other writers of color whom I asked to weigh in. [Read more…]