So, I haven’t spoken directly about the recent chain of racial events and outrage—specifically, but not limited to—the death of Floyd. Part of this is because I dislike politics and social posturing and my hobbies are where I go to escape from the dreary state of the world, not re-submerge myself into it. It’s within fantasy, whether a novel, video game, or anything else, that I can find genuine heroes, drastic social change (usually for the better), and villains who eventually get what they deserve.
I know that’s a poor excuse, but I wanted to be honest. Unfortunately, there’s some truth to the saying that everything is political, and there’s really no escaping it. So, I wanted to make it perfectly clear that I fully support Black Lives Matter and that I more than anyone want to see social change. As a Person of Color myself, that might go without saying, but, eh, we live in a world where flat-worlders and anti-vaxxers exist so it’s probably better to clarify one’s personal perspective and standing.
However, I will be talking about my own personal experiences. It’s going to be kind of long, and as a Puerto Rican, not especially related to Black Lives Matter. I want to be clear that this isn’t an attempt to steer away from the current topics or the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement—especially now—but simply me speaking about my own experiences and thoughts.
So, saying that, all these recent events have left me unhappily wondering if any meaningful changes will occur. I mean, it’s taken extreme outcry and the highly public, viral murder of a man to cause what are right now really just surface-level reactions, and now message is being muddled by stuff like the looting and a lack of social agreement around what to do with all this immediately available outrage and motivation. Yes, we’re still doing something worthwhile and fantastic and it IS helping, but I’m terrified that this might all burn out before long.
Terrified, because we don’t want things to just settle back to the way they were before. I talked a little about this on the /r/Fantasy subreddit, touching on a moment during my childhood when a neighborhood of white folks assumed we were black and asked us “politely” if we could leave because there’s never been trouble in the neighborhood before and they wanted it to stay that way.
Yeah, you heard that right. A group of strangers came together and “politely” (their words, not ours, and this was the basis for their defense against being called racist by my father) asked us to uuuuuh sell the house we just bought and go cause trouble somewhere else, because, you know, that’s a simple turnaround.
Let’s forget the fact that we’re Puerto Rican, so not technically black (we do have a lot of West African ancestry though). Let’s also forget that this is not only blatantly racist and really fucked up, especially because they assumed we were problematic merely based on their biases. What made things really terrible were the three following years, in which they made our lives a living hell. They called the police weekly (nowadays we see how the police are abused as a system of white privilege, but that never clicked in my head as a kid and youth), and even outright lied to them about noise complaints or domestic violence complaints (neither of which were true). We ended up getting to know the cop who came regularly to our house pretty well; he and his partner were, thankfully, good and understanding folk.
Our beloved neighbors also sent their grandkids and kids to nudge me and my brothers for dirt, or walked by our house and constantly questioned all the work my dad was doing (did he have a permi to cut that tree, was that a shed he was building in the backyard, why are we repainting the house when it already looks fine).
To me, that still stands as one of the most vivid examples of racism, but it was hardly the last. Even now, here, in Portland, Oregon, it’s pretty bad, and the casualness of the racism I’ve seen is honestly surprising. Granted, this is based on my very anecdotal experience, but I’ve never felt more uncomfortable anywhere else in my life, and as both a military brat and a former soldier myself, I’ve been to a ton of places.
And none of this even begins to touch on the many people who have suffered far worse than I have or who have outright lost their lives or loved ones because of racism, such as with Floyd. It does, however, help show that the racial/cultural/gender issues in our nation are deeply rooted and far-reaching.
We definitely need to go further and encourage true change, but I’m not sure how. Wondering where all of this will go as the year draws on is also a little nerve-wrecking, but I’m going to remain optimistic. I’ve seen a lot of positivity from people in general, which is truly heartwarming, but in the back of my mind I can’t help but realize that nothing will really change unless the systems supporting things as they are also change, and that’s going to take some serious effort. We shall see, I guess.
Sorry about the rambling. I don’t know where I was going with all this, but I felt like I needed to get it out, so there it is. 2020 has been a horrible year full of terrible events. I don’t know what to feel about that other than disappointment and sadness, but the military taught me that adversity can sometimes make people stronger, so maybe we’ll come out of all this suffering a better society.
Anyway, I’m off to finish the last bit of polishing for my manuscript. Have a glorious day and a wonderful weekend.