Wednesday, November 23, 2016

In Light of the Presidential Election, a Promise to Readers and Friends

Dear readers and friends,

I rarely write about real-world politics, focusing instead on issues like misogyny, authoritarianism, environmental destruction, and fearmongering in my fiction. I make my characters face these issues because they’re problems that affect real people I’ve met, known, and care for.

It’s for this very same reason that, today, I feel obliged to discuss real-world politics. I won’t bore anyone with a long tirade, or levy accusations at anyone. There’s plenty of that to be found elsewhere online. Instead, I offer a plea and a pledge in the wake of the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.

To those who are scared and uncertain as to what their future will be like under a Trump presidency, I understand. Know you have a friend in me. I’ll speak to that more in a moment, but first…

My Plea

…to those who have said, “What’s the big deal?” or “Get over it, your side lost,” or have perhaps gone so far as to say, “Quit being such a pussy!” (and I’ve heard people I know say these things), I ask you to take a moment and consider what you’re really saying.

Like most everyone, I’m the member of multiple communities. I’m a spec-fic writer, an educator, a musician, a sports enthusiast, a neighbor, a family member, and as such, I’ve met and come to care for a wide array of people. These people cross the spectrums of race, gender, sexuality, religion, age,
income, and nationality, and many of them, in one way or another, are part of marginalized communities.

It’s these people who have been told that their liberties will be taken away from them by the President-elect. It’s not about being Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal—it’s about having hard-fought liberties taken away.

If you’re someone who thinks a Trump presidency isn’t a big deal, or that people should just get over it, I entreat you to honestly ask yourself how you would feel if the incoming president

  • said you and your family aren’t to be trusted and might be placed on a registry simply because of your religion?
  • said you and your family are rapists and murderers because of the country where you were born?
  • said you can’t marry the person you love, or if you’re already married, your marriage could be legally invalidated?
  • said little to nothing when an organization with a proven history of murdering your ancestors openly supported him?
  • hired staff and cabinet members who have openly been hostile to your community simply because of your religion, race, or heritage?
  • made fun of a disability you have, and pledged to remove laws ensuring you’re able to get proper medical care and other vital services?
  • consistently demeaned you, suggesting that you’re only worth is in your physical appearance, and that you are unfit to make your own healthcare choices because of your gender?

These are all things that President-elect Trump has suggested or done, and this is why so many people are scared and angry. To suggest that they “grow-up,” “shut-up,” or “go away” shows an extreme lack of empathy, and exhibits an attitude that flies in the face of our constitutional ideals.

My Pledge

I’m as uncertain about the future as anyone, but I’m privileged by the fact that I’m white, male, straight, educated, and have the familial support to help my wife and I get through any hard times. As such, I see it as my responsibility to support those who are not so privileged. To that end, here are the things I pledge to do.

As a Writer

  • Continue to explore issues of otherness, diversity, equality, and environmental justice in my fiction.
  • Strive to introduce and promote more diverse voices from the speculative fiction field here on my blog with interviews, guest posts, and perhaps even some fiction excerpts from guest authors.
  • Be an active voice for human and environmental justice.

And More Importantly, as a Human

  • Be a good neighbor in all the communities I’m a part of, and strive to meet more people within these communities and get to know them.
  • Read more work by diverse authors, because I know I can’t get to know everyone in person but that by reading their stories I can begin to understand them, and understanding removes fear.
  • Continue to be an educator, teaching literacy, creativity, empathy, and climate science.
  • Be an advocate for protecting our environment.
  • Stand up to prejudice and bullying.
  • Educate myself on peaceful means of conflict resolution, and strive to always find peaceful solutions, but at the end of the day, fight for what’s right. And I mean fight in the literal sense. In the immortal words of the Most Interesting Man in the World (and the only ad campaign I’ll ever repeat), “I’m a lover, not a fighter, but I’m also a fighter, so don’t get any ideas.”
  • Offer a safe refuge for anyone who is a victim of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Antisemitism, or any other form of prejudice.
  • Continue to educate myself on cultural differences so that I can become aware of my own inadvertent prejudices.

I don’t hold any allusions of grandeur. I know I’m not a big-name author. I know my actions won’t cause widespread change or better the world at large. However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned this far in my life, it’s that I can have a positive impact on those I interact with. We all can, if we just give ourselves license to do so, and hold ourselves accountable to do the right thing.

In solidarity,

-Garrett Calcaterra

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