Tag Archives: social justice

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 And it will not be repealed by our wishes, nor will it be merciful to our blindness.”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.

 

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.

Desmond Tutu

Situations of Injustice

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

Desmond Tutu


My friend Jim shared this on Twitter last night. In the aftermath of the Presidential Election, as I watched my friends—American citizens, who now fear for the loss of their rights and their personal safety—take to the streets, I couldn’t get it out of my head. This belongs here.

Friday Link Pack 12/04/2015

Friday Link Pack 12/04/2015

It’s Friday! That means it’s time for the Friday Link Pack, my weekly post covering topics such as writing, art, current events, and random weirdness. Some of these links I mentioned on Twitter, if you’re not already following me there, please do! Do you have a link I should feature in the upcoming link pack? Click here to email me and let me know! (Include a website so I can link to you as well.) Let’s get to it…

WRITING:

The Most Misread Poem in America
Everyone knows Robert Frost’s famous poem, The Road Not Taken, and everyone (from commercial marketers to college professors) heralds it as some anthem to self-assertion and individualism, but that isn’t what the poem is about at all. Unsurprisingly, everyone gets it wrong.

Are We Alone?
In his short talk UC San Diego, Author Jeff Vandermeer explores the ideas surrounding the stories we tell as we search for something alien outside of humanity and how fiction and science approach such speculation. [Big thanks to Steve Toutonghi for sharing this with me. Loved it.]

[NSFW] Bad Sex Award 2015: The Contenders In Quotes
Every year the Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction celebrates the worst in purple prose, and they’re always hilariously bad. Also very not safe for work, so read at your own risk. This year’s list includes the likes of Morrissey (yes, the one from The Smiths), Erica Jong,  Lauren Groff, and more.

NaNoWriMo Is Over, Now What?
My piece from last year discussing your options as a writer now that you have finished your NaNoWriMo manuscript. Where do you go from here? What should you do with you 40k words? I offer some ideas.

The State Of The Cycle
In which I discuss where things stand with my series, The Bell Forging Cycle, and where things are going as I move forward.

ART:

Kari-Lise’s Annual Art for Everyone Sale
My incredibly talented wife and partner Kari-Lise Alexander is having a sale. From now through Christmas she has original works and studies, prints, jewelry, and even ornaments available. It’s some really wonderful stuff. If you’re looking for something beautiful and unique, I encourage you to check out her store. (I also featured one of her pieces as today’s header image.)

The 15,000-Year History of a River in Oregon Rendered in Data
Cartographer Dan Coe has taken thousands of years of data on the shifting flow of the Willamette River in Orgon and rendered a map that is educational and absolutely beautiful.

New Animated Portraits by Romain Laurent
I love when a technology becomes an art form, and we’ve been seeing it with animated gifs for a while now. In these animated and looping portraits, Romain Laurent takes still images of people and applies fun animations to specific areas. It’s fun stuff.

RANDOM:

When Social Justice Isn’t About Justice
I think most people are in support of equaklity and justice. But what happens when our intentions become so corrupted that we reach a point where we have begin to dismiss other’s rights we hold dear. What happens when we form cultures of victimhood, and justice erodes the very values that found it? An absolutely fantastic piece.

The Case For Bad Coffee
I live in Seattle, arguably the coffee mecca of the United States, and I have been accused of being snobbish about my coffee preferences. However, after reading this, I a half tempted to go buy a jar of Folgers.

You’ll Never Guess What The First Thing Ever Sold On The Internet Was
Were in the middle of the Holiday Season, and like every year the number of people who purchase online is bound to grow. But, what was the first thing ever sold on the internet? Fast Company gets to the bottom of that question.

Our Year Of Living Airbnb
A couple decides to streamline their life and explore the neighborhoods of their city by using AirBnB and using short-term rental options. The result is a unique adventure. [Thanks again to Steve for sharing this.]

WEIRD WIKIPEDIA:

Max Headroom Broadcast Signal Intrusion
“The Max Headroom broadcast signal intrusion was a television signal hijacking that occurred in Chicago, Illinois, United States on the evening of November 22, 1987. It is an example of what is known in the television business as broadcast signal intrusion. The intruder was successful in interrupting two broadcast television stations within the course of three hours. The hijackers were never identified.”

Make sure you watch the video as well:

H.P. LOVECRAFT STORY OF THE WEEK:

The Nameless City
“That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.”

GIF OF THE WEEK:

all day every day