Black Lives Still Matter

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Me in Washington Park, Albany NY (Tulip Fest 2015)

Me in Wash­ing­ton Park, Albany NY (Tulip Fest 2015)

I am on a short vaca­tion to visit mom in Con­necti­cut. I need this time off, more than you know, and I thought it would be nice to see her for Mother’s Day. It’s been a busy few days, but enjoy­able. Yes­ter­day me, mom, and baby took a trip to Albany, NY for the Tulip Fes­ti­val in Wash­ing­ton Park. They crowned the Tulip Queen, who, if I recall, will go on to head a lit­er­acy cam­paign and other inter­est­ing socially con­scious stuff, along with her court. The mayor was there. Lots of ven­dors, with cool, inter­est­ing and friv­o­lous wares for sale, food for which you want to take a lax­a­tive to get out of your sys­tem, thou­sands of gor­geous tulips, sun and hot and gen­eral hap­pi­ness, a lit­tle lake where you could sit under trees and catch a breeze, adult bev­er­ages, peo­ple with kids in strollers, live music… It was nice.

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There were also a cou­ple of small but sig­nif­i­cant (at least to me) protests.

Just as the Tulip Queen was about to be announced a group of about 20 folks stepped for­ward to shout “Black Lives Mat­ter!” They did this for about five min­utes and moved along. This thrilled me. I mean, isn’t that a thing to be proud of? In the midst of tulip queen crown­ing there are still peo­ple who want to come out and remind us of the things that are truly impor­tant to the coun­try and world at large. The Tulip crown­ing is impor­tant in the city of Albany, part of its Dutch her­itage, and a vehi­cle for ser­vice for the young woman crowned, but there are things even larger than this. The bru­tal­ity that young black men encounter on a day to day basis is enor­mous and tragic. Though the spot­light shines brightly on this issue now, it isn’t nearly bright enough, and it isn’t new. Mod­ern tech has been said to make slaves of us, but I say it is a God­send. There are few things more beau­ti­ful than a cam­era phone.

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Later, as me and fam­ily strolled through Wash­ing­ton Park, I saw a group of elderly white folks also tak­ing a stand for Black Lives. This struck me harder and deeper than even the first protest. I had to stop, take a pic­ture or five or six, give them my thanks and a thumbs up. I know there are good peo­ple out there, but we (and by we, I mean, I) often expect the old guard to be out of step with cur­rent issues of race. Espe­cially the old white guard. This is an erro­neous con­cept, at least in part.

After this, I was stopped by the local press. Well, a man with a cam­era and a mic. “Can I ask you a few ques­tions about what you saw over there (refer­ring to the Black Lives Mat­ter protest)?”

Sure,” I told him. I’m sure he saw me and thought, this lady is a for­tune in diver­sity. And, you know what? I’m happy to be.

He asked me what I thought of the protest. And also, “Have you ever expe­ri­enced racism?”

Mwa-ha-ha-ha! That was the jack­pot ques­tion of the day. And a slightly stu­pid one, if I may say. I’m African-American, I’m Mus­lim, and I’m a woman.

Have I ever expe­ri­enced racism? Take a guess.

It’s easy to get caught up in our day to day busy. Our day to day busy quickly and eas­ily becomes more impor­tant to us than the huge things that are hap­pen­ing out there in the world. Our car trou­ble, or the fact that we need to pick up eggs and milk for tomorrow’s break­fast, or the cof­fee stain on our work shirt, is emi­nently more press­ing than say, the plight of the Pales­tini­ans, or hun­gry chil­dren in our own coun­try, or the sex­ism women face in the work­place, or the lives of black men that are being stolen whole­sale by the very peo­ple employed to pro­tect and serve them.

This all made me think about a brief but very mean­ing­ful Twit­ter convo I had with a few friends recently about what it means to be an allie. Admit­tedly none of us had all of the answers, but I can say this. Being an allie is more than lip ser­vice. Being an allie is stand­ing out­side in the heat, hold­ing up signs in silent protest, when every­one else is walk­ing around drink­ing gal­lon size mugs of lemon aid. Being an allie is tak­ing a chance at ruin­ing every­one else’s good time to remind them that dammit, there are lives at risk out there and that it affects us ALL even though it may seem like it doesn’t. Being an allie is tak­ing time out of your day to stand in the midst of a Tulip Fes­ti­val only to be ignored and over­looked by every­one else. Except me.

#Black­Lives­Mat­ter

Still.

Amistad Memorial in New Haven, CT

Amis­tad Memo­r­ial in New Haven, CT

Amistad Memorial in New Haven, CT

Amis­tad Memo­r­ial in New Haven, CT

Off To A Nice Start

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Last year this time I was not feel­ing very accom­plished with regard to my writ­ing. I was writ­ing, don’t get me wrong, but I couldn’t have been any less focused. The book I had planned to com­plete by my birth­day (Sep­tem­ber) seemed more daunt­ing by the day and there was a point when I con­sid­ered giv­ing up this “writ­ing thing”.

I didn’t, of course, and I am glad for it.

This year is off to a fan­tas­tic start. I sold a story to Escape Pod and it will be fea­tured dur­ing the Artemis Ris­ing event dur­ing the month of Feb­ru­ary. I fully expect you all to check out that series of pod­casts because they’re going to be spe­cial. They’re all writ­ten by women. If you know any­thing about me, then you now that I am totally ded­i­cated to see­ing more women, more POC, more Oth­ers writ­ing and pub­lish­ing sci­ence fic­tion and fan­tasy. We need var­ied voices, yeah?

I’ve also qual­i­fied to become a mem­ber of Codex, which has seri­ously hum­bled me. Many of the won­der­ful writ­ers that I have been read­ing and lis­ten­ing to for the last 3–4 years are there. They have been insanely invit­ing and wonderful.

Today, I took a moment to update my writ­ing career bingo card. Look­ing good. Many of the white squares are now pur­ple. (Thanks Rach by way of Christie Yant) for hook­ing me up with that won­der­ful moti­va­tional tool.

Here’s to more accom­plish­ments this year for me and YOU.

 

The Power of Story

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What makes a video game work for you?

I have spent the last six days play­ing Dragon Age: Ori­gins. When I first started the game a few weeks ago, I was a lit­tle skep­ti­cal. The graph­ics look old, and high fan­tasy in games have never been my thing, my pref­er­ence being Sci-Fi. But friends and my daugh­ter encour­aged me to keep play­ing, to give it a chance, to allow myself to be immersed in the story.

Guess what? I’m hooked.

I still think the graph­ics are eye can­cer and I find that some of the mis­sions feel down­right padded. I mean, is it really nec­es­sary for me to travel through miles of under­ground tun­nels for an hour just to reach the were­wolf den? It’s enough to make a novice like myself scream and throw the con­troller out of the win­dow. The game isn’t ter­ri­bly diverse with regard to the humans, but there is char­ac­ter cre­ation, so…well, there’s that. And do not even get me started on the sys­tem of com­bat. Bor­ing. Or the com­pli­cated con­trols. Argh.

Obvi­ously these aren’t the aspects that keep me com­ing back. And for the record, that is my unof­fi­cial gauge to deter­mine if a game is good. It’s the, Do I want to go back and fin­ish this?, test.

I do want to fin­ish DA: O, because of the story. Admit­tedly the whole “You are charged with sav­ing the world/universe.” is incred­i­bly over­done, yet there is still some­thing com­pelling about know­ing that the fate of every­thing rests on your shoul­ders. Even bet­ter though, is play­ing a game where the rela­tion­ships you cre­ate and cul­ti­vate with other char­ac­ters have a direct impact on if and how well you meet  your goals.

Sto­ries like this force you to care. This is where all of my unfin­ished games have failed. Weak sto­ries. Beau­ti­ful graph­ics and great fight­ing mechan­ics can not carry a game, at least not for me, longer than a cou­ple of hours. They won’t make me care. They won’t com­pel me to return.

So, I’m going to fin­ish DA: O, and I never thought I would say this but, I might even do a sec­ond play through so that I can really catch all the nuances and side mis­sions and explore all the nooks and cran­nies I’ve missed this go around.