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can be resistance too
Someone once asked me why I wrote such diverse casts of characters. I replied, “That is the world I live in, and the world I want to live in.”
At the time, I was living on the Oakland/Berkeley border in California, a place much more culturally diverse than Portland, Oregon, which is 75% white. And, whereas California cities have trees planted in monoculture, Pacific Northwest diversity comes from a wide variety of trees and birds.
The diminishment of one sort of diversity and the expansion of the other was startling when I moved here. The lack of racial diversity is not a direct threat to my life, the way it can be to the Black, brown, Asian, and Indigenous people living here. But it does diminish some measure of community health and joy.
Besides, a threat to anyone is a threat to us all. That’s how societies and ecosystems function. Homogeneity is not only unhealthy, it is not truly possible.
Author and puppeteer Mary Robinette Kowal once said of writing:
“It's not about adding diversity for the sake of diversity, it's about subtracting homogeneity for the sake of realism.”
I still write with as much diversity as possible, because, as said, I want to reflect the world as well as build a world. We all build worlds, just not all of us do so through fiction.
Yesterday, I stood on a hot sidewalk beneath my Totoro parasol, waving a small trans flag festooned with rainbow ribbons. Why was I out there with a group of adults blowing bubbles, and waving rainbow flags? Because diversity was being threatened.
The Gender and Sexuality Alliance at a local elementary school had planned a small, completely optional Pride celebration. One parent complained, took it to the press and social media, and a flurry began, getting picked up by a notorious hate group and spreading. As a result, some other adults decided to phone in death threats, send hate mail, and threaten to show up if this optional event took place.
The Gender and Sexuality Alliance is meant to be a safe space for LGBTQIA students and their friends. This upheaval clearly threatened any sense of safety they may have been building for each other.
We wanted the children to know we supported them. We wanted to let them know that, even though bigotry and fear had shut down their celebration, we celebrated them anyway. Many parents and guardians thanked us as they passed en route to pick up the children after school. So standing out there across the the street from the school at least helped a little.
“Tell the kiddos we support them!” I said.
Diversity is a fact of life. All healthy ecosystems rely upon diversity. When hatred, ignorance, bigotry, or fear try to diminish diversity, everything suffers: soil, sky, people, art.
So today, I hope you have a safe, welcoming place to be. And I hope you find ways to champion diversity where and when you can, becoming a safe, welcoming space yourself.
We need you.
best wishes - Thorn
The ebook of Bookshop Witch is still free if you need a brief escape into a fun story where justice and community are both found in the end.
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