There is a general feeling that politics shouldn’t be discussed in a professional setting. I don’t always agree with this, but I try to keep my Ranty McRant pants in a hard-to-reach drawer, so I don’t pull them on too often. Mostly I write about books I love, or post photos of my cats, or other
totally irrelevant vitally compelling information.
(Here, here’s the cat. You’re welcome)
That may be true in more typical election years, but this is not a typical year. This year the Republican candidate is an explicit racist, xenophobic bully who has not only spewed all kinds of dangerous hyperbole, but, even worse, has normalized this type of behavior so that all kinds of people — even kids — feel that it is okay to say out loud the racist, cruel, sentiments they feel.
Maybe it’s better this way. Maybe we’ve turned over the proverbial rock, and are allowing sunlight and air to hit the slimy, blind, wriggling creepy-crawlies beneath it. Maybe now that we, as a nation, see what is fermenting in our Obama-is-President-so-we-must-be-past-all-that-race-stuff country. This kind of hate is not new to the era of Drumpf, as I call him, but he has legitimized it. Now instead of whispering, more Americans feel comfortable shouting their distrust of Muslims, their anger against immigrants, their lack of concern over the racial equality gap. He has made this okay.
Today I happened to read this post on the blog #DedicateYourNoTrumpVote (which has all kinds of compelling and moving stories). In it, an author writes about her son Omar, and how a fellow student said to him, “When Trump’s president, you’re out of here.”
One ten-year-old to another.
This one gut-punched me. I cried a little. And I realized that, as an author for kids, this IS my business. These are my customers, if you will. These are my market segment. These are my people. And they are scared.
And you know who else is scared, because they’re facing the brunt of this hate? The authors, illustrators, and creators of color who stand at the front lines and take hit after hit from cruel and ignorant people so that they can keep pushing toward the goal of more inclusive children’s literature. They stand between haters and readers, between racists and kids of color trying to find themselves and their stories in books. And for their pains they get death threats, hate mail, professional setbacks, and more.
So I’m going to go ahead and #DedicateYourNoTrumpVote to the kids I write for, but also for the warriors of #WeNeedDiverseBooks, who saw a problem and turned a complaint into a movement, who created internships for diverse young people to get into publishing, who put a spotlight on #OwnVoices titles by highlighting diverse authors telling their own stories, who who speak up again and again for those whose voices are continuously silenced. I dedicate my vote to them, and hope to keep walking with them, in order to form a more perfect union.
There are a lot of these justice warriors, but I dedicate my vote to a few who I Twitter-know well, and have actually managed to meet in real life once or twice: to Ellen Oh, and Mike Jung, and the wonderful magical Kaye (who prefers not to use her real name)
I dedicate it to everyone at We Need Diverse Books.
And I dedicate it to kids like Omar, who is scared of where he will belong in a post-Trumpian world. Because he belongs right here, and our job, as writers, parents, librarians, teachers, and humans, is to make him feel welcome.