How does one write, in times like these?
I feel guilty for not being at the protests (my wife and I are both at high-risk for covid-19). For not being and doing more, both now and in the past.
I can make changes going forward. Donate to Black Lives Matter and to Bailout Funds. Push locally for police reform. Vote for candidates that will hold our police accountable.
But where does writing fit into that? How can I justify spending time…just, writing stories?
Because I have kept writing, even as the police have tear-gassed my old neighborhood. As helicopters fly overhead, towards the next showdown between the people and the “heroes” that are supposed to keep them safe.
On the one hand, I write because writing is my escape. A way for me to tune out the world for a bit, and come back to it ready to rejoin the struggle.
On the other hand, I write because writing is a form of activism.
When we read, we can enter the mind of a character completely. See the world entirely through their lives. Cry with them, when the world throws them down. Shout with joy when they triumph over those who would hold them back.
We can build empathy with people and situations we never thought we could. We can also see the dark sides of our own selves, when thoughts and habits of our own are cast in a different light, or shown to us from someone else’s perspective.
So I write to escape, yes. But also to create something that can change someone’s mind.
It’s not as fast as signing a petition, true. Or joining a protest. Or calling a government official pressuring them to be better. Which is why I will continue to do all those other things.
But I will also write.