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So here is my main problem with racism. .. It doesn’t make sense. Hating people for their skin color is just so amazingly stupid. Above is a flesh tone set of pastels and the thing that grabs my eye is that they are all shades of brown. Some are lighter, some darker, some have grays and some have pinks and some have yellows added but they are all browns. Human skin is not pure white nor is it pure black, it is varying shades of browns. So racism based on skin color is just. . . stupid.
So if it isn’t about skin color then it must be about other things and those things are all tucked under an umbrella of color. Things like cultural norms, language, religion. . . and we group them all under a blanket of color because it is easier to hate categorically rather than specifically. In other words, racism is just lazy bigotry.
My ancestor fought in the American revolution. He fought to help bring this country into being. Other ancestors later came from Germany, Sweden, Wales, and a few from the indigenous American Indians. The thing they all had in common is that they really had nothing in common except that they came to this country to find something better. To find a safe place.
Fast forward generations and this country is rich in culture because of exactly this reason. Many people from many lands adding their own unique culture to the mix that is America. There are no cultures, with the exception of certain native tribes in remote places, that have not been influenced by other cultures. The human race is blending ideas, thoughts and cultures on a constant basis so the palette of culture and norms is, like that of color, varied hues of the same. Each is dynamic and blends with the rest at times or can be used to created vibrant highlights standing alone. They are not alien to each other though. They are all based on the basic concept of being human.
Religions are a hornets nest of possible reasons for hate I guess. People get zealous about it really fast which is why our country was founded to accept religions. It was created to be a safe haven for religions. So I really do not understand people claiming to be patriots hating with such zeal anyone who believes differently than them. To me, that hatred is the most un-American of things. It is the antithesis of the founding father’s efforts.
As far as language. . .use a frickin translation app and get over it. I mean really, hating people because you don’t want to open an app to communicate is just stupid.
So this leaves me with only one possible reason for racism.
Fear due to lack of understanding.
Fear of being left out.
Fear that one’s own identity is not strong enough and that the self will be lost to the storm.
Plain and simple. . . and I do not understand how you can be proud of allowing fear to rule your thoughts. I do not understand having pride in being a prick because fear makes you feel small and insignificant.
It’s just fear.
We’re all shades of brown.
We’re all shades of each other.
You don’t have to be afraid.
A tree is such a fitting symbol of courage. It is always true to itself. An oak tree planted in a pine forest, growing up surrounded by pine trees will always be an oak tree. It never tries to become a pine. It never tries to hide the fact that it is an oak. It is always true to it’s nature. That is courage. Being true to the self, in spite of having overwhelming pressure to conform.
(artwork pastel on gatorboard treated with acrylic ground and watercolor wash)
Many years ago I happened to be at an auction house that had a variety of antiques of all kinds going up on the block. I was there with a friend whose family had several pieces for sale. One of the star pieces for sale at the event was a fountain pen once used by Samuel Clemens (i.e. Mark Twain). The provenance stated it had been used during the period he wrote “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” and I was spellbound by the artifact.
Here, sitting before me, just a glass pane away was the tool used by this amazing writer. The very device used by the writer that changed how we write, the voice of books that changed American and the world’s literature. A man who never met a boast he couldn’t top or a story he couldn’t stretch to the very limits of possibility.
It was like a magic totem or fetish to me. Of all the items there and all the interesting histories, that item, that pen was all I could see. It was the personification of being a writer. It was a link to genius and a talisman that I was certain would propel me to get off my ass and write like I always dreamed of writing. The price was . . . equally awe inspiring so I just stared and drank in every aspect of it I could before they got annoyed with me and asked me to stop drooling on the display case.
I remember that pen though. It’s been close to 30 years and I still remember that pen like I had just seen it a moment ago. I do not covet ownership of it. I don’t wish I had the money to get it. Instead I enjoy the idea it is out there somewhere. Like some mystical beast loose in the world. I think of it as better to be out there, the mere sight of it inspiring people to dream . . . to write . . . to create wonderful things in ways no one ever imagined before.
What if I am not good enough?
That is the quiet, ever present whisper in my head as I am trying to finish my first novel. I am confident in the idea and the story. I am sure of the twists and action and the overall story arch and message. I am especially sure of the message which is ironic because that is the major underlying theme of the story.
Yet sometimes the words feel like they won’t come. They feel all bunched up and twisted inside my head so that they don’t flow. Then I wonder ‘what if they are not good enough’. Maybe there is a reason they won’t flow. I know the story is good so maybe it is just the teller of the story that is lacking.
I have published collections of erotic stories that did well enough. I know I can write but what if, in a cruel quirk of fate, I am just not good enough to write something that doesn’t end with a money shot? What if base titillation is the peak of my ability?
I know the advice to just push through and to believe in your own words and not to worry because you can always revise and rewrite. I know those things are all true but still I find myself paralyzed at times by my lack confidence in my own ability to tell a story to the fullness that I think this story deserves. We’ve all read things or seen movies that were good ideas slaughtered by bad writing or, worse still, just left limp with a muddled, lack luster telling. It is like the story was betrayed in the telling.
If I could tell you this story you’d understand why this is so ironic, my own battle with fear. I actually completed it once. I typed out 93,000 words and finished it only to realize that telling it in third person didn’t work. The power of the story is lost if I am not directly linked to the story in first person. I have to own the story even though I am not basing the character on myself in any way; I have to own the point of view. I just feel if I am not willing to put myself into it, to bare myself to it, it means nothing and this story deserves to mean something.
So I am going to be 51 in a little over a month and I am still paralyzed by my fear of not being good enough. I am pushing through, I am pushing the story out because I can always go back and revise and rewrite . . . but it is not easy. Maybe it is not supposed to be.
Maybe the facing of my own fear is the price I have to pay for writing this story.
It is a lot easier to write smut. As long as it titillates, it’s ok. It has served its purpose and fulfilled expectations.
I want something more than OK though. I want this story to be the thing I see in my mind, the emotions I feel in my heart as I write it. I want the power I see in it . . . I want to share that.
I hope I am good enough.