What do you see?

What do you see when you look at me?

I’m trying to understand why black people who are unarmed, non-threatening, and compliant with police demands are being shot to death in the country I was born in. I gave up trying to understand why people are so antagonistic towards those of us who are hurt by it. Why people are making such horrible comments, telling us to “go back to” somewhere we’re not from, and acting as though it’s “no big deal” because other people have been killed by police. Yes. Other people have. But does it happen as often to others? People who don’t look like me but who openly attack the police are taken in peacefully. But people who look like me… for some reason our very appearance is threatening.

Do I threaten you?

Look at me.
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I love my friends, like you love yours.
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I love my mother, like you love yours.
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I love food.
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I love a good sale at a thrift store.
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I’m a human being. What about me scares you? Do you feel fear looking at me? Tell me what it is that bothers you. Let me know. Because I don’t understand why these things keep happening again and again.

And I REALLY don’t understand why “they choked” is an adequate excuse for when an officer of the law, trained to deal with serious threats, takes an innocent, unarmed person’s life.

We are people. Living our lives. Yes, there are differences much of the time. You might make more money. You might have enjoyed more privileges. But that doesn’t make the people who are different from you threatening. We’re people. We love. We have hard days. We make mistakes. All of that is the same as what you experience. People are people. Please understand that. And if that’s difficult for you, put yourself in a position to learn things about any person who is different from you. I’m sure they’d be happy to share their experiences and to hear about yours. We can learn so much from each other. The most important thing we can learn is how alike we are.

Don’t be afraid of what’s different. Be curious. Check it out. Look into it.

Don’t be afraid.

A Quick Catch-Up!

Hey y’all (or anybody still keeping an eye on this blog)!

Things have been a little cray, lately. I work in retail, and now that it’s fall/autumn (YAY!!!!) we’re finally closing in on the holiday season (O.O) and I can feel it in the air. Everyone who comes into the shop has that weird, electric, holiday energy radiating from them. If you’re just out and about, living life, this feeling is exciting. If you work in retail… get ready.

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Anyhoo, in the midst of the coming onslaught, I’ve come up with a few things to write about here, after which I was immediately distracted by nightmarish thoughts about this coming Christmas. So I’m going to cram all those Writing Wednesday topics into one post, but condensed (lucky you!).

Eimear McBride & The Lesser Bohemians

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I recently attended the launch event for Eimear McBride’s second novel The Lesser Bohemians at Foyles. She read, answered questions, and signed books for people. She read her work beautifully, and made a lot of great points that made me think. My favorite was when she talked about how female authors always get the “How has motherhood affected your writing?” question, and how the expectation for women is that they write something somehow based on true events, as though women have a lesser capacity for imagination than men. This was even more interesting considering The Lesser Bohemians is about a young Irish girl who moves to London to attend drama school… like McBride once did. Her point still stands though, and it made me realize that the premises of a few books I’ve read by female authors lately were based on/connected to their personal or family histories. Then again, those were all considered literary, which is typically “more realistic.” I wonder if female authors of sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and crime have different gendered expectations foisted upon them. Hmm….

After the event, I went up to get my book signed. This was the exchange:

E: *signs my book… looks at what she just wrote… looks at me*
Me: *blink*
E: “Are you Gianni?”
Me: *nods*
E: “That’s unusual.”
Me: *blinks more… grins nervously*
E: “I like it.”
Me: “I’ve grown to like it, too, over the years.”

Then we both laughed. I hadn’t thought about being a woman with a man’s name in a while. Growing up, I didn’t like that my mom had essentially gotten my name off a shoe box (she named me for one of her favorite designers as a nod to her past and b/c she thought the name was pretty and unique. I hated it.) In America, people had just thought it was an interesting name. Now that Italy is fairly close by, I get more eyebrow raises than I used to, but I love my name. 🙂

The Responsibility of Ethnic Creators

I was listening to the Linoleum Knife podcast from September 12th where they review the film When the Bough Breaks. The guys who do this podcast (Dave White & Alonso Duralde) are two of my favorite film critics. They are also white. This is relevant to what I’m about to say. Now, When the Bough Breaks is one of those Lifetime-esque psychological thrillers. It’s about a relatively well-to-do couple (wife is a chef, husband is a lawyer) who wants to have children but can’t so they find a surrogate. At first she seems like a nice, normal girl (with an abusive boyfriend). Of course, the girl actually turns out to be violent and dangerous, and becomes obsessed with the husband and tries to seduce him into leaving his wife.

The entire main cast of this film is black, but the film isn’t about race. Dave and Alonso reacted to this aspect of the film by saying it was not representative of anybody’s reality in 2016. Because the only thing minorities in America experience is racially-motivated violence and devastation. And of course there are NO black people with good jobs or who live in nice neighborhoods, or who have any. other. problems in life. I’m sure what the guys were getting at was that the lack of inclusion of any aspect of what we now see on the news on a regular basis made the film that much more unrealistic. But here’s the thing: when I or other black people I know hear that there’s a film with a black cast that is not about slavery or being black, there’s generally celebration. Because the slave and the ghetto person on the rise seem to be the only narratives we fit into on a regular basis. But we’re people, people who like to be entertained just like everybody else. Sure, you want what you’re watching or reading to resonate with you, but you also want to be able to forget about the real difficulties plaguing you, even if it’s just for a few hours. I am not entertained by the news that yet another black person was murdered by police (which apparently just happened in Charlotte, NC where my family is). I want to have the option to enter a fantasy world populated by people who look like me. And if in that world there’s no mistreatment of black people, so much the better. It makes me feel normal for a little while.

So my verdict is this: I don’t believe that creators of color (or from any marginalized group) are duty-bound to include the trials and tribulations they have experienced because of their minority status in the art they make. Yes, the world needs to know these things, but the world also needs to know that race (and sexuality and gender) is only ONE part of a person’s identity.

What I’ve Been Reading/Will Read

So the book I’m writing (yes, still) is mostly horror with some sci-fi, gothic (which is slightly different from horror) and other biz mixed in. So I’ve changed tack on the critical part of my dissertation/thesis and will likely end up rewriting the whole thing (just the critical part — HELL no, I’m not throwing out the novel and starting over… I’m almost done with it!) with a focus on horror fiction specifically.

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SO, I’ve been reading more horror-focused stuff and have made a list of authors whose work I still need to read asap:

— Clive Barker
— Arthur Machen
— Peter Straub
— Dean Koontz
— Kathe Koja
— Ray Bradbury
— Ursula Le Guin
— Octavia Butler

*The last three are sci-fi/fantasy, not horror

I also want to read the rest of the books shortlisted for the Man Booker this year. I’ve read Eileen. Not a fan. I think my expectations for it were too high (and different according to how the book is described. It is NOT a thriller). But I’m interested in checking out the other five!

I’m currently still reading Lesser Bohemians. I only read it at work before our meetings for some reason. On my next day off, I’m gonna try to buckle down and finish it. I really like the book! I just don’t pick it up when I’m at home. No idea why.

So, there you are; all caught up.

Happy Writing Wednesday, everybody!