If you're wondering why I, a fantasy fiction writer, have put this kind of post on my website -
The short version: to me, it currently feels as though the turbulent times we're going through requires visible action.
The longer version: I see the strangely pervasive thought that artists shouldn't display their political opinions crop up a lot. [Musicians and actors seem to get this far more than writers, admittedly.] I don't talk about everything to do with my life, either with the people I know offline and the people I don't know online. What I do choose to talk about is, of course, telling.
I am - shock - a person, a jumbled, complicated and ever-changing creature with varied passions, preoccupations, biases and opinions. Artists make work about the world as filtered through their own individual lens. Therefore everything I create is a reflection of my experience, so much of which is related to living in the society I belong to. Expecting an artist of any kind not to discuss their societal and political views feels kind of like expecting me to try consciously breathing through only one lung. It's baffling. These are not separate things. I am an artist because I am a person. I am a person because I am an artist.
We talk a lot. But we don't do a lot, not because we're all callous arseholes, but because we feel like nothing we do on an individual level makes much difference. I'd love us to get to a state where that last bit is no longer our default thought. It might not happen in my lifetime, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't try to contribute to its eventual manifestation.
June 10th 2020: What a difference a week makes. I'm now focusing on the longer-term action section for myself. For me, successful lasting change seems to happen largely through these two ways: education, both in schools and outside, and reforming our democratic systems to re-empower individual voters, so this is where my energy is currently going.
June 2nd 2020: Considered, effective strategy over the most useful ways to dismantle the systems that perpetuate the grim levels of inequality in our society is necessary but can come later. To me, this is now a crisis management situation.
I've been looking for practical advice on how I can contribute to fighting the clear escalating fascist response to the Black Lives Matter protests in America and here's what I've found so far:
[I am not in America, I am in the UK. It's messily written but it's research and it's now.]
ACTION I CAN TAKE RIGHT NOW
DONATING help the front line of on-the-ground organisations and protesters.
- donate to The Movement for Black Lives Fund - benefits hundreds of organisations that implement 'black-led rapid response efforts and long-term strategy, policy and infrastructure investments in the movement ecosystem.'
PROTESTING visible white support seems vital right now, as is creating a non-violent threat to authorities that doesn't go away and needs to be faced.
-> if you're high risk from COVID-19, or you live with someone who is, for christ's sake don't go. Amplify documentation of protests from sources you trust, or donate instead. <-
- Wear a mask. Take hand gel if you have it. Take water and snacks. Charge your phone to document the things you see. Go with a friend, never alone. Let someone else in your life know where you're going and update them during. Leave if you feel unsafe.
I plan to self-isolate for several days after any major protest I attend, because I'm lucky enough to be able to do so without major issues.
- Online protesting - this one is hard for me. I've kept discussions of my political life off social media for a long time. I tend to find online conversations around important issues shrill and reactionary, and opinions rather like the proverbial assholes.
But visible support of any kind feels increasingly necessary. So I'll concentrate on boosting other people. I'll research before I boost anything at all. Amplify sources I trust talking in the way that I find most useful. That's it.
LONGER-TERM ACTION I CAN TAKE
SUPPORT DIRECT ACTION CAMPAIGNS/ORGANISATIONS (UK specific):
- Citizens UK - practical community organisation to effect social change with local chapters.
- Support campaigns for voting reform ('first pass the post' is a hideously flawed system that means voting democracy in the UK and the USA is largely bullshit, no wonder we think voting does nothing).
- Find out how my local MP votes on different issues here.
- Extremely easy facilitator to send them a message here.
- push for more diverse resources in schools. Here are thorough, impressive education packs and toolkits from the UK's largest anti-racism educational charity.
- push for campaigns to reform of the way British history is taught in schools - from personal experience and general evidence there's a whole lot of glossing over going on. Links tbc.
- push to equip the next generations with practical knowledge of the systems we are all expected to function within, and a sense of the contributions we can make to society. Basically, mandatory education and active experience of community work, citizenship, and personal finance. Links tbc.
I'm still researching and figuring longer term actions out for myself. Gonna keep updating.
Fair warning: it'll involve me trying to learn about systems change and attempting to distil for myself the most effective ways of back-end influence and citizen lobbying. Lol.
Reading I am finding useful, a continuously updated list:
- this extremely well-informed and pragmatic book on how to effect social change.
- a good breakdown of types of voting systems (although I could do without the starring system).