A Year Later - Four Days in December and a note on Racism

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A little while ago, I posted about this on Facebook and it felt like something I needed to expand on.

A year ago we were getting ready to screen “Four Days in December” at the Tri-Cities International Film Festival. The changes that have happened since then make it seem like that happened in another life. 

The film is available online now.  


Things in this country are spinning out of control. Science is not just being denied, but is being actively undermined at the highest levels of our government. Agencies that exist to protect citizens have been handed to those whose only interest is in exploitation for profit. What a woman chooses to do with her own body is being criminalized to the point that women are being threatened with the death penalty. Human beings - children - are still being herded into camps like cattle where they die of neglect. And so many other things…  

The messages from Standing Rock - solidarity and fighting for what you believe in, have never been more profoundly important than they are right now.

We who went with Veterans for Standing Rock only glimpsed what the Sioux and other Water Protectors lived through for months. But that glimpse was enough to change every person I know who went. Images and emotions are now burned into us about what rampant corporate greed looks like and government that puts the desires of those corporations ahead of the rights and lives of citizens. Everything I see now, from white supremacists spewing genocidal rhetoric, to denying aid to Flint Michigan and Puerto Rico, I view through a lens created by being at Standing Rock.

The popularized ‘Chinese curse’ says, “May you live in interesting times.” Regardless of the phrase’s actual origins, the sentiment remains the same. And we are living smack dab in the middle of that curse. Security, understanding what is going on, and trusting our institutions to do what they are supposed to are now things of the past. And what does the future hold? No on can predict.

With this, I wanted to address something straight on - Racism. As a guy who pretty much looks like a poster boy for white privilege I wanted to speak directly to all the other White folks out there.

Racism is NOT about individual acts of aggression toward People of Color. Racism is no more about individual acts than misogyny is about cat calls and grabbing Women’s asses. Racism is about a system that every white person participates in whether they acknowledge it or not.

I can already hear the hew and cry. Any time we talk about systemic racism, White people lose their minds because we have been taught that racism = acts of aggression. This translates to a knee-jerk reaction where people feel they are being accused of those acts - just by talking about it. We have ALL been indoctrinated into this way of thinking. It is a method that prevents us from addressing the actual issue, which is that the US, like most Western European countries is BUILT on systemic racism. Most White people do not think about their privilege because to them, it’s just the way the world works. The system that allows us to not feel like we might be killed when being pulled over by police, or that it’s only natural for us to have a place at whatever table is set before us, is the problem. That’s Racism.

We don’t consider that the way the world works for a Person of Color is that when they walk into a job interview, somewhere in the back of their mind the question lingers of whether their skin color will play a factor in their chances to get that job. We have no understanding of the necessity for mothers to teach their children how to behave if they are stopped by the police so they don’t get shot. It seems silly to us that there are products being sold specifically so that a Person of Color doesn’t have to reach for anything if they are stopped by police. Most White people aren’t even aware of the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous women, who are ten times more likely to be murdered than ANY other subset of the population in the US. Why is that? Because law enforcement agencies have failed to look into the issue. If thousands of White women went missing or were found murdered the way Indigenous women in the US and Canada have been, people would be up in arms. But because of systemic racism, we are barely aware of it.

If we as White people are going to break the cycle of Racism we need to face it head on. It is up to us as individuals to change the system by changing ourselves. The first step is acknowledging that systemic Racism exists and that we benefit from it. And we need to be open to conversations about it, as uncomfortable as they may be. Talking about racism isn’t attacking us. Just like talking about misogyny isn’t attacking men. Racism a system we exist within and we have the power to change it. And when we understand that, it is empowering. WE, as individuals can make this change, we just have to step up and do it. If you want to know more about why it is so hard for us to talk about systemic racism, I suggest reading “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo.


Keep fighting. Stay strong. Resist what you know is wrong. Look out for one another. And know that there are thousands upon thousands of other people, if not millions, who feel exactly the same way you do.  

If you want to get a much better idea of what went on at Standing Rock and continues to go on elsewhere, I encourage you to watch Myron Dewey’s film “Awake: A Dream from Standing Rock.” (It’s available on Netflix) It tells what happened at Standing Rock from a Native American perspective and goes into the spiritual battle they were fighting then, and continue to fight now.

Also “Black Snake Killaz: A #NODAPL Story,” a film done by the folks at Unicorn Riot. Without their choice to release their footage as Creative Commons (available for use by anyone so long as it is properly attributed), our film could not have been made.

Politics and the blog... What am I supposed to say?

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Wheeew... Where to even begin.  We are currently "living in interesting times," as the Chinese curse goes.

I'm a student of history as well as a creative.  It's clear to me that there will probably never be another time in my life when wielding art as a weapon of resistance will be more sorely needed.  Pablo Picasso said:  "Painting is not made to decorate apartments.  It's an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy."  He was, of course talking about his painting Guernica.


As someone who peddles fictional worlds filled with made up conflict and characters, it sometimes feels like what I'm doing is less "meaningful" than it should be - whatever the hell that means.  It's not like I'm the 'gonna go out and find the cure for cancer' guy, or anything, but given what's happening right now, writing sci-fi and fantasy sometimes just feels kinda 'fluffy'.  

But then again, that presupposes there is a greater reality or truth out there.  In our current situation, we can't argue "truth" because it's become a meaningless slogan.  Facts are irrelevant in a world where people in power simply choose whatever reality they want, spinning fabrications that their followers believe even when they don't match what they see with their own eyes.  

I'm certain I'm not the only person who verges on being paralyzed about what to do, what to say or how to take action.  And as we all know, speaking out puts a target on our backs.  I've had friends arrested, doxxed, and it's become so common for people to be threatened that we're becoming immunized to it.  If you are a Person of Color, Immigrant, Muslim, LGBTQ or are part of any number of other groups, every direction you turn is threatening.   So, many people don't speak out.

I've been told to 'stick to your fandom,' talk about your fictional worlds or anything else - just don't bring up politics.  Unfortunately, we're kind of in a place where we can't get away from it anymore.  Those arguments might have held water a few years ago when people weren't marching under Nazi flags, ripping children away from their parents, putting them in cages and calling for journalists to be lynched.  But that's where we are now.  Some people have the privilege to stay silent.  They know that things won't affect them immediately because they aren't part of one of these targeted groups.  The word those people need to keep in mind is - YET.  They haven't been targeted - yet. 

So, what are we as spinners of fantasies, game writers, novelists, entertainment bloggers supposed to do?  It's simple really - "MAKE ART!"

Paul Sizer is an artist I follow and respect.  He's never shied away from meeting these things head on.

For me, it's about doing what I set out to do as a storyteller - communicate.  Now, it may not happen in the traditional ways I normally think of.  For example, there are a couple of songs that have been in my playlists a lot lately.  I'm sharing them because they kind of cut to the guts of what I'm feeling.

Under the God - Tin Machine (David Bowie) 1989 (Prophetic much, David?) - Lyrics and music - but who wouldn't rather watch Bowie in a live performance?  "White trash picking up Nazi flags
While you was gone, there was war
This is the west, get used to it
They put a Swastika over the door."


Cross the Line - Superchick

"They want us to lie down, give into the lie, 
that nothing has to change and no one has to die.  
But that's not the secret but I know what is
Everybody dies, but not everyone lives." 


I've been going back and forth about whether or not to even do a post like this, whether to open Pandora's box if you will.  But after talking with friends I decided to head down this road.  We're in a strange no-man's land these days.  Many of us understand that to be silent is to be complicit, but we aren't interested in turning our blogs or other outlets into strictly political venues.  But to say nothing is disingenuous.

If I say something and it offends someone who believes that what is currently happening in this country is good for us, is that someone I really want to follow me on social media?  And before we go down the whole mock civility rabbit hole, let me be clear.  I have friends who are on the opposite side of the political spectrum.  That's not what I'm talking about.  

Nazis marching, people chanting about an ethnostate, kids in cages, people calling for journalists to be lynched?  Sorry, we're never going to see eye-to-eye on these things.  If I were putting out a personals ad for people to follow me on social media there would have to be a section that says, 'racists, misogynists, bigots and science-deniers need not apply.' 

I will let St. Deadpool express for me.

 "Listen, the day I decide to become a crime-fighting shit swizzler, who rooms with a bunch of other little whiners at the Neverland Mansion of some creepy, old, bald, Heaven's Gate-looking motherfucker... on that day, I'll send your shiny, happy ass a friend request!"

How the hell we are in a position where video game companies have to explicitly say, 'Nazis are bad.'  

"Wolfenstein (Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus is the new game) has been a decidedly anti-Nazi series since the first release more than 20 years ago. We aren't going to shy away from what the game is about. We don't feel it's a reach for us to say Nazis are bad and un-American, and we're not worried about being on the right side of history here." - Pete Hines from Bethesda ("It's disturbing that Wolfenstein can be considered a controversial political statement" - GameIndustry.biz )

A great and telling line from the game, "Come and get f*cking me you fascist, nazi pig!"

And from the folks at Ubisoft, who produced Far Cry 5:

“We started building this game three years ago,” reflects Far Cry 5 director Dan Hay, “we could have never imagined, and to be honest I wouldn't have wanted to... that in some ways, it's echoing out in the real world.” - from "How Far Cry 5 became more Political that Ubisoft Intended"  

So, where does that leave me?  Right here.  I'll continue primarily blogging about writerly things, sci-fi, fantasy, and other geeky stuff, but I'm also not going to censor the rage, fear, and anxiety I'm feeling.  This blog is me, or at least as much of me as I'm comfortable sharing with the world, warts and all.  And some of those warts are what I will and will not stand for, what I believe in.

So, if you're a fascist, neo-nazi, bigot, misogynist, or anti-science nut, consider yourself warned.  This may not be a comfortable place for you because Black Lives Matter, Families Belong Together, I'd rather sit in a stall next to a Trans person than a violently repressed one, Planned Parenthood saves lives, universal health care should be a human right, the world is round and climate change is real.  

Oh, and...