Tag Archives: america

William Pickens

Our Blindness

“To cheapen the lives of any group of men, cheapens the lives of all men, even our own. This is a law of human psychology, or human nature. And it will not be repealed by our wishes, nor will it be merciful to our blindness.”

William Pickens


A lot has been on my mind over the last three days. The hate on display in Charlottesville is the antithesis of the America I was raised to believe in, and it sickens me. In the aftermath of an event like this, a lackluster response those from those in power can resonate. It doesn’t take a decent person three days to solidify their opinion on racism, bigotry, and hate.

It can be disheartening to see failures in leadership, and that can bring about cycles of depression and despair. If you find yourself in those places, I would encourage you to stay strong. Do not lose hope. Get active. Be a help to the helpless, be a voice for the voiceless, and defend the defenseless. As I said in November last year: despair isn’t how you defeat evil. Action is.

 

Three Quotes on Libraries

Three Quotes on Libraries

“Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.”

Ray Bradbury


“I have found the most valuable thing in my wallet is my library card.”

Laura Bush


“Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower


There’s intent here, a reason why I selected libraries as today’s topic. Consider this a passionate plea in support. Why? Well, yesterday, Seattle Review of Books shared a proposed Republican budget from Texas Representative Bill Flores, chair of the Republican Study Committee. Within their Blueprint for a Balanced Budget (read it at that link) it proposes cutting federal funding for Libraries (less than 0.01% of the budget.)

Appalling as that may sound, it’s a serious proposal and one that could end up on the desk of our new President. I shared it yesterday unsure of how to react. I was stunned and shocked and disappointed. Especially knowing how important the library system has become for our country. The library meant so much to me as a child and remains crucial to me as an adult. In an era when non-profits are struggling to make ends meet the Library system remains a vital institution in helping enrich our communities. Cutting funding is an ignorant and dangerous step in the wrong direction and it baffles my mind that defunding would even be considered.

This morning, my friend Matt Nelson (creator of the wonderful Catbeard the Pirate) joined me in an impassioned plea for the support of American libraries. I highly recommend you read his own thoughts and experiences. You can either start reading using the tweet below or check out this easy to read Storified version. It won’t take long and it’s worth your time.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Defending the Defenseless

Over the last week, America has seen an uptick of hateful intimidation and harassment towards minority people and groups. The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported over two-hundred cases alone, it’s been on the news, Jim C. Hines has a collection of incidents on his site, and activists like Shaun King have been keeping a running tally of reports.

This has become immediately personal to me. It’s happening to my friends. I’ve seen cars vandalized. I’ve heard former coworkers tell stories about being verbally harassed. I’ve seen people get hateful emails and Facebook messages because they happen to be married to someone who isn’t white. It’s appalling.

Sadly, on some level, none of this is too surprising. Racial division has split America for a long time, and it’s not strictly an American problem. Similar harassment happened in the UK aftermath of Brexit (another campaign fueled by anti-immigrant/minority sentiment.) Hateful bigots get empowered by rhetoric, so it’s not shocking to witness it going on here in America. (Disappointing, yes. Surprising, no.) This sort of behavior puts everyone on edge and emotions run hot. But we can stand up to this.

“Whatever you are, be a good one.”

Abraham Lincoln said, “Whatever you are, be a good one,” and I plan on being a good one. There are many things we can do to help defend those who need it most right now. So I figured it’d be handy to present some options for those who are interested in helping.


Donate

Many folks out there won’t witness this sort of activity. (Seriously, consider yourself lucky.) But you’re going to read about it, and you’re going to want to help. Consider giving to organizations that defend those who can’t defend themselves. Here are four good ones.

Note: This is just a small list focusing on a subset of groups. There are so many other charities and activist organizations that need you help. The important thing is to give. Most organizations have options to do monthly or one-time payments. Any amount helps. Give what you can.


Act

If you see harassment happen, get involved. Don’t wait for the victim to turn to you and ask for help. Alert the authorities if you see vandalism. Step in if you witness abuse. I posted an excellent quote from Desmond Tutu last week about the danger of remaining neutral during situations of injustice. Go read it.

The illustrator and artist Maeril put together a handy comic on how to diffuse a harassment situation and how you can help. The comic focuses on Islamophobia, but it serves as an excellent guide to stopping most harassers. Again, if this doesn’t work, alert the authorities.

What to do if you are witnessing Islamophobic harassment


Engage Locally

Take a stand against hate. Look for local ways to help out minority communities in your neighborhood. Volunteer at or donate to your local homeless shelter. Many churches have groups that offer help to the needy and work to welcome immigrants into communities. Work with your local food bank. Get involved in groups that welcome refugees and work with minorities.

For example, during the upcoming holidays, Kari-Lise and I are working with the International Rescue Committee to sponsor a local refugee family and provide them Christmas presents. We want them to feel welcome in our city, and little acts of kindness like this can go a long way to making an immigrant family feel welcome.


Hate groups are empowered right now, so don’t expect this sort of behavior to go away. (They’ve been on the rise all year.) Even if it lessens over the next few weeks, it’s clear that the animosity is there, bubbling under the surface. We have a long way to go before America, and humanity in general, is past its deep-set racism, bigotry, and hate.

Despair isn’t how you defeat evil. Action is.

Americans: Go Vote

Americans: Go Vote

It’s November 8th here in the United States. The day we cast our ballots for the next President of our country. While I have readers all over the world, I’m going to take a moment to talk to those who are American.


Go vote. Please vote. Please. Every race is important. From your school board to local offices to your state and city elections; not just our national election.

We do mail-in voting here in Washington, so I already voted weeks ago. I’m not going to tell you which way to vote. (Although, over the last few weeks I haven’t been exactly silent on my support.) What am I am going to do is encourage you to do it. It’s important.

For some places, casting your vote will be easy. In many others, thanks to voter suppression movements, it’ll be much more challenging. As I posted yesterday on Facebook as an American citizen, no one has the right to stop you from voting, if you’re in line to vote when the polls close THEY ARE LEGALLY REQUIRED TO ALLOW YOU TO VOTE. Remember that. Same goes for your employer with a few caveats depending on your state. [Details Here]

If you’re intimidated at polls or have problems voting, keep these numbers handy:

  • 866-Our-Vote (English)
  • 866-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish)
  • 866-API-Vote (Asian Languages)

Find out more information at: 866ourvote.org

It’s a big day for our country. Go vote and let your voice be heard.

Young Americans Are Reading

Chalk this one up as good news for writers (and civilization in general.) A new study from Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project has shown that young Americans are reading and they’re reading more than older Americans.

“We found that about 8 in 10 Americans under the age of 30 have read a book in the past year. And that’s compared to about 7 in 10 adults in general, American adults. So, they’re reading — they’re more likely to read, and they’re also a little more likely to be using their library.”

Read the full article and listen to the radio report here at NPR.