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Posts Tagged ‘we are political monkeys’

We’re not done yet

So Biden has won both the popular vote and the electoral college. Yay! This is, of course, an enormous relief to me.

. . . but if you think that means we can all now cruise along and not worry, think again.

We still have a pandemic to deal with, and it’s not magically going to go away because of an election. Neither is climate change. We need to fix our broken system of immigration, and demilitarize our police. There are countless problems that still need to be addressed, and the momentum for addressing them is going to come from us.

Especially since . . . y’all, this election should not have been remotely close. By any objective metric, Trump has been a disastrously bad president — the sort who should have been catapulted out of office without thinking twice. In previous decades, he would have been. Instead, the election was close enough that it took days to count the votes to the point where news outlets could cautiously say that Biden appears to have won. Because in addition to the problems I listed above, we’ve got a problem right here in our own body politic.

And that problem is quite simply white supremacy. Not just in the active, obvious, neo-Nazi sense, but in the creeping sense where fifty-seven percent of white people voted for the most incompetent president most of them have seen in their lifetimes. You can’t just blame it on QAnon conspiracy theories — and the reason those conspiracy theories are meeting with such an eager audience is, at its root, still white supremacy. Fred Clark at Slacktivist (himself a white evangelical) has for years now been charting out how much of American white evangelicalism is driven by white supremacy: built on a base of justifying slavery, continued in the opposition to the Civil Rights movement, and now desperately seeking grounds to say that no really, they’re still the good guys by embracing overheated lies which tell them at least they’re better than those Satanic baby-killers underneath the local Pizza Hut. Imprisoning immigrants at the border? White supremacy. Our inhumane carceral system? A replacement for Jim Crow laws. Housing policy? Time and again, looking for ways to keep people of color out, to keep them down. And it’s no accident that the voter suppression efforts disproportionately hit those communities. I’m not going to say there are no other factors playing into this mess, but white supremacy is the poison at the root of this tree.

If you are glad that Trump is on his way out of office, thank the black voters, the Latine voters, the Asian voters, the Native American voters. Because if it had been left up to white people, he would have won with ease. Sure, 42% of my own demographic looked at the corrupt, incompetent, pathologically dishonest bigot and said, “please, let’s not.” But that’s not enough. It isn’t remotely enough. We’ve got to leach this poison out, and that means getting more white people to take positive action.

As soon as I’m done posting this, I’m going to go donate to the campaigns for Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, who are headed into runoffs in Georgia. I’m also planning on writing more letters through Vote Forward, which specifically seeks to encourage underrepresented demographics (such as voters of color) to step up to the ballot box. You can donate to Black Lives Matter, the Native American Rights Fund, LUPE, and more. Give your support to the people white supremacy wants to keep down. The more power they have, the stronger we all will be.

A thing you can do to help

Doing something is a really, really good antidote for stress and worry. My chosen Thing to Do: write letters through Vote Forward, which sends personalized messages to voters, encouraging them to vote and providing them with information on how to do so. They specifically focus on young and/or minority voters, i.e. the kinds of people who have historically been underrepresented in our electorate, timing the mailing for maximum effect (this year letters will be going out on October 17th); they’ve got several years’ worth of data backing up the idea that this makes a measurable difference. This year they have blown past their initial goal of ten million letters prepped, so now it’s moving on to the stretch goal of 15 million. Each one takes about three minutes to prep and you can “adopt” voters in batches of five or twenty, so it’s easy to make this as small or large of an undertaking as you want — I’ve done sixty so far and want to do a minimum of a hundred, though once I hit that target I may add more. You can volunteer here.

“A Riot Is the Language of the Unheard”

I make my living with words, but some things are so large and so awful, they leave me at a loss. The death of George Floyd, and what’s happened as a result, is one of those things.

But I should try anyway, because from the outside, you can’t tell the difference between silence caused by an inability to articulate, and silence from a lack of care. And even if my words are going to be inadequate, it’s my responsibility — it’s the responsibility of all those who care, but especially white people who care — to say something anyway. Because just sitting here feeling bad about things? Gets precisely jack shit done.

One of the things that really struck me in reading Ijeoma Oluo’s book So You Want to Talk About Race was her metaphor of the abuse victim, replicated on a society-wide scale. It’s easy to look at many things abusers do in isolation and think “well, that wasn’t good, no, but it wasn’t that awful, so why are you making such a big deal out of it?” But looking at them in isolation misses the point. If my husband says something hurtful to me, I can cope because he doesn’t usually say such things, and I know he didn’t mean to hurt me, and I’m confident that when I say “hey, that bothered me,” he’ll listen and apologize and avoid that in the future. In the case of an abuser, though, it’s yet another blow landing atop an existing bruise landing atop deeply-buried scar tissue — and all of that damage is also the abuser’s work.

In this situation, the abuser is society as a whole, white society most particularly, and the victim is marginalized people. Particularly marginalized ethnic groups, but others as well.

Jim Hines posted a good quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., and I’ve taken my lead from him in using part of that quote as the title for this post. What we’re seeing right now is the result of centuries of abuse, and centuries of America — white America — refusing to listen. Of white America making changes here and there, sometimes big ones (abolishing slavery), but more often small, grudging ones . . . or no changes at all. Read Jim’s post for the statistics on what institutionalized prejudice looks like. If you’re white, imagine raising your son knowing there’s a 1 in 1000 chance that he will die at the hands of the police, and ask yourself how okay you’d be with that. Imagine this has been happening to your people for decades, and before that it was Jim Crow, and before that it was slavery. And the genocide of Native Americans and everything else white America has done to people who look different.

Imagine those blows hitting, again, and again, and again, and again, while people around you say “why are you making such a big deal out of this? Why are you angry? If you want to see things change, you should ask politely.” While continuing to ignore the polite requests you’ve been making for years and decades and centuries.

And let’s be clear: if you’re thinking right now “we’ve got to vote Trump out of the White House in November,” you’re not wrong . . . but you are woefully undershooting. We can’t wait five months to start doing something, and we can’t pretend that swapping who’s at the top will be enough to fix things. Change needs to happen everywhere. And it needs to start yesterday. Right now, do you have a little money to spare? Donate to Black Lives Matter, or the NAACP, or the ACLU. Write to your local lawmakers — city, state, and federal — to push for change where you live. Ordinarily I would encourage you to find a local protest and join it, but in these times of plague, I don’t think in-person action is the best idea.

And speak up. Say something. Even if your words are inadequate. What I’ve written here certainly is — but it’s better than writing nothing.

Every day is Voter Registration Day

Yesterday evening, I thought, “oh, crap. I was going to make a post about National Voter Registration Day, but I missed it.”

And then I thought, “screw that.”

So yes: Tuesday the 24th was National Voter Registration Day. You know what else is a good day to register? Literally any day you like. Here, have a link — just click on that to get rolling.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The best response to the attempts to undermine our nation is to democracy so hard at those people they can’t pull their shit anymore. To vote in better officials at every level, from the presidency down to the local dogcatcher. All our protests, the letter-writing, the sit-ins — those are all responses to the things done by our elected representatives, demonstrations of support for their good actions or efforts to push them in the right direction. You know what makes that easier? Having people with actual human ethics sitting in those seats to begin with.

So register. And better still: ask the people around you if they’re registered. If they’re not, here’s the link again. Step One, register. Step Two, vote. Step Three, profit. No question marks in the chain there; we know exactly what to do. We just need to get out there and do it.

After elections, chop wood, carry water.

It would be too much to say I’m relieved. That would imply a more sanguine outlook on the next two years, the next four, the next decade than I actually have. Given the path this country has been on, it’s going to take a long time to truly turn it around.

But I’m not crushed, either. And given how I feared I was going to feel tonight, I’ll take that. There are a lot of things to be pleased with from the election results. If there are some to be disappointed by . . . well, that was always going to be the case.

Either way, the next step is the same. We keep organizing. We keep shouting. We keep voting. We keep protecting the vulnerable, the marginalized, the people the Republican Party is determined to wipe away, by violence or law or just plain disregard. We keep striving for that more perfect union, because it ain’t gonna happen without a lot of work. And nobody can do that work but us.

The past and the future

cover art for ARS HISTORICA by Marie BrennanThe past: Ars Historica is on sale now!

The past is prologue . . .

Kit Marlowe. Guy Fawkes. Ada Lovelace. Kings and sailors and sainted nuns populate these seven stories of historical fantasy by award-winning author Marie Brennan. They span the ages from the second century B.C.E. to the nineteenth century C.E., from ancient Persia to the London of the Onyx Court. Discover the secret histories, hear the stories that have never been told — until now.

The future: if you are able to vote today, please do.

Nevertheless, a whole lot of us persisted

cover art for Nevertheless, She Persisted; ed. Mindy KlaskyYesterday saw the release of Nevertheless, She Persisted. There are many things with that title these days, but this one is mine — well, mine and that of eighteen other authors from Book View Cafe. It is, as you might expect, a collection themed around female persistence in the face of adversity. If you feel like you need that sort of encouragement right now, or you know someone who might, or you want to support the general idea, or you just think that sounds like something you would like to read, you can get the ebook directly from Book View Cafe, or from Amazon, Nook, iTunes, Kobo, or Amazon UK; if you want a print edition, those are available too, from Amazon US or UK.

My contribution to the anthology is “Daughter of Necessity”, which is one of the stories I’m proudest of having written. It was inspired by an essay of Diana Wynne Jones’, and of course she herself is the woman whose work inspired me to become a writer in the first place.

It’s been six months since Elizabeth Warren was silenced on the floor of the Senate. Keep on speaking out. Persist. We will stand strong.

    Table of Contents

  • “Daughter of Necessity” by Marie Brennan
  • “Sisters” by Leah Cutter
  • “Unmasking the Ancient Light” by Deborah J. Ross
  • “Alea Iacta Est” by Marissa Doyle
  • “How Best to Serve” from A Call to Arms by P.G. Nagle
  • “After Eden” by Gillian Polack
  • “Reset” by Sara Stamey
  • “A Very, Wary Christmas” by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel
  • “Making Love” by Brenda Clough
  • “Den of Iniquity” by Irene Radford
  • “Digger Lady” by Amy Sterling Casil
  • “Tumbling Blocks” by Mindy Klasky
  • “The Purge” by Jennifer Stevenson
  • “If It Ain’t Broke” by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
  • “Chatauqua” by Nancy Jane Moore
  • “Bearing Shadows” by Dave Smeds
  • “In Search of Laria” by Doranna Durgin
  • “Tax Season” by Judith Tarr
  • “Little Faces” by Vonda N. McIntyre

The Battle for the Net

I posted a little while ago about today, July 12th, being the “Battle for the Net.” The short version is that the FCC is trying to roll back the “net neutrality” protections we currently enjoy, which would have the effect of letting corporations control how you interact with the internet. Think of your cable company: you know how they charge you more money for “premium channels”? You might find yourself paying your internet provider extra fees to access “premium sites.” (Not paying the sites; paying Comcast. Or whoever provides your internet connection.) Sites they don’t have a financial stake in might load more slowly. Streaming sites could be throttled to the point where you can’t watch a video or listen to music or play an online game without constant hiccups.

All of those things are bad. But here’s what’s worse.

Think about the flood of online political activity we’ve had in the last year. All those petitions, all those videos, all those political blogs. Right now, the only thing controlling your access to them is your level of interest and will to engage. But if we let the FCC empower internet providers to become the internet’s gatekeepers, then it may get a hell of a lot harder for us to make our voices heard. A lot of the groups speaking out right now are precisely the ones being disadvantaged by the current administration’s policies; they’re the ones who can’t afford to pay prioritization fees to keep their sites from being buried. This would be another way to screw them over, to make sure the voices we hear first, last, and loudest are the ones with money behind them: a negative feedback loop that ensures that power stays in the hands of those who already have it.

We can’t let this happen. Call your senators. Call your representative. Write a letter to the FCC. Speak up now, while you still can. As tools for speech go, the internet is up there with the printing press and the invention of writing itself — and our democracy depends on freedom of speech. We have to protect it.

The Battle for the Net: July 12th

So, net neutrality.

It’s an important thing. Without it, cable companies will have far more control over what you see and do online: they’ll be able to slow down or block websites, or charge apps and sites extra fees in order to reach their audiences. They’ll push you toward sites belonging to companies who can afford to pay for “prioritization.” Marginalized communities and voices will be muted by the power of money, and your ability to say “I want to hear them” will be weaker, too.

Ajit Pai, the new FCC chairman (and not coincidentally, a former Verizon lawyer) thinks this sounds great. Me, not so much.

There’s a protest planned. I’ll be back on this topic July 12th, because I’ve signed up to participate. If you want to do the same, you can sign up at that link. My microphone isn’t huge, but the more of us that shout together, the louder we get.

Let’s get loud.