Where were you in March 2020? When science was shunned, again? When a well-known author’s fear of the unknown gave fuel to the fires of transphobes? When in May a man cried, “I can’t breathe”?
I’m thinking about the future and the human rights questions of the next generation. Will they be angry at us for the part our ignorance played? I don’t know. I don’t know how to write this post either, so bear with me.
COVID-19 is probably the worst worldwide disaster since WW2, but it’s not the only disaster in 2020. Before COVID-19 we had Australian wildfires, with koalas declared functionally extinct in the wild. Since the first outbreak we’ve seen a new level of police brutality in the US, stemming from the murder of George Floyd. And on and on.
From my vantage point, it seems like 2020 is trying to show us our flaws. Maybe we should consider 2020 a harsh critique from the universe. Perhaps it’s unwanted and cruel, but be honest with yourself–change is uncomfortable and time-consuming. History is a good example of our stubbornness; it often takes martyrs and wars before we can improve society. Think back to suffragettes, the Magna Carta, Rosa Parks. 2020 is slamming some of humanity’s greatest flaws into our faces and we need to fix them.
We have a lot of flaws. We take healthcare for granted. We debate scientific facts. We turn a blind eye to our biases. I’m not a politician, but democracy seems to be floundering due to lack of information. We care more about a celebrity’s haircut than we do about deforestation in the Amazon. I can already see 2020’s human rights issues being swept back into the recesses of our minds, too unpleasant to focus on for long. Yes, news is called news for a reason, but we can’t just forget last month’s crisis.
While Black Lives Matter protests have continued in the US, it feels like a lot of the world has already forgotten. We need to start taking responsibility for our actions and for the actions of our governments. However, these are lofty expectations I’m setting. Change is not instantaneous, it requires time and knowledge.
So here’s what I’ve decided to do about it. I want to use this platform to discuss underrepresentation in stories and in the writing community over the next few months. I’m hoping that this will include looking at representation of POC, LGBTQ+, mental health, and disabilities. We live in an incredibly varied and vibrant world and it’s time that the content we consume started reflecting this.
The first step: educating myself. I am a white, cis, bisexual female, so I’m hoping to use a mixture of books and help from others to create posts which deal with representation. I plan to talk about areas which should be improved, controversial questions, and creators and content with excellent representation which you should know about and read/watch. If you have any suggestions, feel free to comment on this post or contact me privately.
This is a time for all of us to seek knowledge. Read more science. Read more books by Black authors. Tell people when you find a story with good representation. Be open-minded and always act with kindness.
Dear 2020, thank you.