So, the election happened.
Now everything feels like it’s up in the air. I had my writing career plan mapped out for the next few years, but it feels like I have to start all over from scratch. That sweet haunted house novel I was working on before the election is no longer plausible. Even all the ‘dark’ novels I’ve written so far don’t feel like horror anymore.
My white husband consumed the entire election as if it was reality television, as entertainment, along with the rest of Canada. “There’s no way that people would be stupid enough to vote in Trump”, he kept saying, while watching in half-glee. All the while, I kept telling him, “You have to take it seriously. People’s lives are at stake. Think about what might happen if he won.” But he didn’t listen. On November 9, he woke up in disbelief and wondered. “How could have this have happened?” Even though I’d been telling him the whole time. He just didn’t listen.
We had a long talk about privilege, but because he’s never experienced the world like I have, he still doesn’t really get it (he goes everywhere thinking that everyone will like him, while I go into a strange place wondering which folk are dangerous). It was exhausting, humiliating, and frustrating. Honestly, if it’s this hard to get through to someone I love, to get him to take my concerns seriously, I have no idea how anything in the world could ever change.
But one thing this has all made clear: voting is not enough. We need to put our ideals into action, and silence is complacency.
Even I am at fault. I’ve never talked to my husband about the racism I’ve faced, or the sexism I’ve encountered. It’s tough. It’s uncomfortable. It’s a burden to relive those things you’d rather just forget so you can go on with (what feels like false) dignity.
I used to be so scared of confrontation that I’d keep away from those people speaking up online, and let them fight the fights without getting involved. I worried that I might just end up facing trolls if I spoke up, and who am I anyway, and that I couldn’t possibly handle that. Some days I even took down my photo, wondering if my non-white face might just make me a target just for existing. There were nights I’d stay awake and not sleep because the blowups on book Twitter (racefail, the badgers, keep ya kind, etc) really got to me, even if I wasn’t involved, because they were usually about people like me.
I prided myself in maintaining a bubble of peace that afforded mental well being, and for those of you who still need a bubble, I get it. I really do. When you have to fight all day in your real life, then you need safe spaces. (If you need them, keep them and guard them well.)
But things changed for me.
My bubble is gone, but strangely, my fear went with it. I’m lucky, and my life and livelihood are not on the line (yet). Any terror I’m feeling is for others, and not for myself (yet). So I will not be silent, or shy away from express my political views: that no one should be denied humanity due to their sexual orientation, religion, race, gender, lack of able-bodiedness. etc.
Talking about this might be hard, but there are a lot of people with far less education who are spouting nonsense like they own the world, so I’m going to take some time to address -isms in the context of writing, because I am a writer, and it is something I think about constantly. I will also start posting some of my diverse reads to support those whose voices don’t get listened to enough. And I will keep writing my feminist books full of diverse people, even if they never sell. And I will try to be vocal in my real life, and step in for people if I see they’re being harassed.
To any Americans wondering why Canadians care at all about American politics: Canada is a tiny country and the USA is its biggest export partner. The economies are interconnected (at least right now) so what happens there will directly affect jobs here. Because we are such a tiny market (population 35 million), 90% of the media we consume is American. This includes TV, movies, music, books, games (never mind the internet, or Twitter). Just like our economies, culture overlaps. And what’s happening right now is also a culture war. It is in no one’s best interest to let racism, homophobia, sexism etc. become normal or acceptable in this world.
To any Canadians who are feeling smug right now and think that it could never happen here: you shouldn’t be. Hate groups have always been here, are moving in, and hateful messages are already popping up. Canada also has a long history of failing indigenous groups. If you’re white, I hope you realize that that racism is not something rare. It happens regularly, even to me, even though I live in one of the most diverse cities in the world. Don’t be complacent. If this could happen in the USA, if Rob Ford could happen, if Brexit could happen, it could damn well happen in Canada too. We need to make sure that it doesn’t.
(And I’m not writing this for cookies. I usually prefer just to act rather than talk about doing things and I am not really comfortable getting this personal, but I thought you might want an explanation for why I’m changing the focus here just a bit, and I needed to sort out my thoughts out too.)