I'll be honest. The daily good was hard to find today. A crime was committed in my country, a boy was killed. He was killed for being a person of color. A decision was made about the man who killed him, and result of that is that that man walked away. That is what happened. It is not the first time this has happened in my country: it has happened over and over, an ugly series of welts across the American landscape.
I've been thinking all day what the good could possibly be today, and finally, tonight, there was a clearing in my head, and the good showed itself. You'll find the daily good just below the beautiful art featuring Maya Angelou's quote, which is by a talented artist I discovered online awhile ago: Nate Williams.
Photo and art courtesy of Nate Williams. His website, here.
Here is the good: it is not adequate to simply grieve for the loss of this boy and so many others like him. It is not enough to post on your Facebook or Twitter status that you are sorry, that you are sad, that you stand in solidarity. It is not enough to post links of essays, photos of cities on fire, protests.
In particular, if you are not a person of color, it is truly not enough.
What is enough? Enough is opening your arms wide to diversity in your life. Don't just chatter; show, demonstrate, act.
What is enough? Enough is not reacting immediately when a person of color challenges you about you've said. Don't just say you are open; listen, reflect, be accountable.
These are things I'm always working on, I shall work on them forever, as I will never know what it like to not be me and to not have the privileges that come with being me.
There are many ways action can happen, and to me, the most important thing I can do as writer, as a creative, as an artist is to include diversity in my work, my platform, my website, my social sharing, and my projects.
Awhile I wrote an essay for Devi Lockwood's blog, called The Half Empty Bookshelf, on the lack of diversity in travel writing. I still remember the moment she asked me to write it, and I will admit I felt unsure and nervous to write about the topic. As a woman, I do get frustrated with the lack of women's narratives in the traditional realm of the travel genre; but as a white person, I felt ill-equipped to make statements about the lack of diversity.
But that essay spread around like a fire. It lit things up. It illuminated things. It brought diverse people together. It started a conversation in certain circles where before there was none, or only a faint whispering. It was loud. It filled the room. And it has created opportunities and collaborations, subtle shiftings, movement.
In 2015, I'll be one of the writers launching the online travel writing magazine, Borderless. It will be something entirely new: a magazine run by women and those who identify as women, featuring travel writing from all genres from diverse writers. The name comes from a something a friend said to me recently:
And it's true that women do.
But it's also even more true that people of diverse backgrounds, whether skin color, belief, gender, and more need to write without those borders, too. And more importantly, they need to live without those borders.
It's important to not just say you feel badly about something that has happened. It's important to not just have conversations with people in your circle that look like you and live your same life. It's important to open the doors of creative life and invite the whole world inside, and create partnerships which give voice and equality to everyone. Collaborate.
A boy has died, needlessly, because he was not the same skin color. He was killed, needlessly, because we live in a culture which gave him no voice. His life ended, needlessly, because we have refused to share equally.
(Thank you for to the writers of color who advised me on the structure and content of this post. I am grateful for your words and collaboration.)