Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.
The above quote is pinned to the board above my desk, and I like to read it now and then to keep myself positive. At the moment, I seem to be glancing at it a lot.
A lot of people are saying that they're taking the time to listen and learn, and that's great. But it's not enough.
It's up to all of us to raise our voices and do what we can to make the world a fairer and a better place. Fostering equality isn't someone else's job; it's ours.
Most of us know what the goals are.
Most of us feel like we're decent human beings.
But are we doing enough to make this right?
So yes, let's take time to educate ourselves, but we have to follow that up with action. Maybe that's through some small action, such as donating to a charity (see below). Maybe we can do a little digging into a company's ethical standards when we choose where to spend our cash. Maybe we can volunteer. Or maybe we can do something as simple as signing a petition or sending an email to a government representative. Because those in power have a tendency to hold onto the status quo, and we can't let them get away with that. When leaders try to brush inequality under the carpet, we have to hold them to account.
This could be a turning point.
This could lead to something great.
But if we stand by and let the desire for change become a distant memory, if we let our attention be drawn elsewhere as the 24-hour news cycle rolls onward, and if we let those who've died be forgotten, then we'll be complicit in the continuation of injustice and inequality.
We don't want that.
We want change. But wanting it won't make it happen.
For that, we need action.
Personally, as a writer of fiction, I need to do what I can to represent all kinds of people fairly. Inclusion and equality need to be baked into everything I produce. In the past, I have tried to be even-handed in my work, but I still have a long way to go. From my days as a teacher, I learned good principles, and many of those lessons have stayed with me. But I know I can do more. There are so many voices that are under-represented in the world of fiction. How can I help those people to be heard?
I recently listened to a presentation from Hera Books – they're working to help writers from under-represented groups. You can find them here.
Of course, there are many groups who deserve a better chance, and there are many charities offering help. Those charities need our support, now more than ever. Too many people are discriminated against on the basis of their gender, their physical or sensory abilities, their sexuality, the colour of their skin.
But here are a few links:
You can access educational resources on the Black Lives Matter website in their series What Matters. Watch it here.
And you can donate here: donate to BLM
Also, The Stephen Lawrence trust do great work.
On a practical level, you can contribute to Community bail Funds.
After searching around, I decided to donate to SARI – Stand Against Racism and Inequality
Let's all do something to help.
It's our job.