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When I was in college I took a geology class. I learned about igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. I learned about formations and their layers of sand and stone. Whatever their scale – the immensity of a cliff or the insignificance of a pebble – I saw them as inert and objective, separate from or subordinate to the stories of people, including the story of me. Until I heard Lauret Savoy at the AWP conference earlier this month pose questions such as these:

What’s my relationship with history – told and untold on this land? Is it personal as well as geologic?

Savoy’s words pulled me in and I knew immediately that her talk would be the highlight of the conference for me, even though it was only three hours into the first day of the three-day event.

The conference can be overwhelming not just because of the 12,000 writers it draws, but because of the multiple panels from which to choose. I’m often torn, afraid of what I’ll miss out on by skipping one in favor of another. Sometimes I make the right decision – the speakers are engaging, the topic is as advertised, and I’m busily jotting down notes. Sometimes I’m wrong and wonder if I should duck out of the disappointing one and sidle in late to another.

In the four years I’ve attended panels at AWP, how many times have I found myself breathless, blinking back tears, feeling as if the earth had opened up? Exactly once – when I heard Lauret Savoy speak this year.

I’m a fiction writer who occasionally writes an essay, but without actually knowing how to do it, having never really studied the form. I decided to forego the panel on finding structure in fiction and attend instead the panel titled “Imagining the Essay.”

Rebecca McClanahan spoke first and I scribbled such tasty morsels as “each digression spirals, taking us closer to the heart of the essay.” And “ the collision of the different selves.”

I was happy to write these down, even though I had only a sketchy understanding of them. It felt gratifying to take notes. I was more than satisfied with McClanahan’s talk. I thought to myself, yes, this panel was a good choice. Then Lauret Savoy came to the podium and I realized it was a wondrous choice.filtered

Savoy spoke of literary geology and how the history of human experience owes much to the structure of the land.” Literary geology,” she said, “gives us metaphor and language to explore displacement and erosion of human experience over time.”

I nodded, only slightly, but it was as if a rockslide had started in my head. As if the images collected from that geology class decades ago were shaken from dormancy and exploded to bits. Once the dust had settled, there was a whole new vista, a brand-new landscape.

“The U.S. is a country of ghosts,” Savoy said, “each of us affected by memory and loss. When we re-member, we are putting the pieces back together.”

And then this: “Put the eroded world back into words and transform silence.”

It was not just her words that reverberated in me, but the voice that delivered them. Musical and layered, her voice carried the deeply-felt experiences and accumulated geologies of her life.

The only downside of Savoy’s talk was that it ruined me for the remainder of the panel. I couldn’t concentrate on the words of the two speakers who followed her. My brain and heart were still buzzing with her words. Her voice.

When I returned to Seattle, I bought her book Trace at my neighborhood bookstore, trace-pen-finalistPhinney Books. The book is richly subtitled Memory, History, Race and the American Landscape. This is from the prologue:

I’ve long felt estranged from time and place, uncertain of where my home lies. My skin, my eyes, my hair recall the blood of three continents as paths of ancestors – free and enslaved Africans, colonists from Europe, and peoples indigenous to this land – converge in me.

She writes,

Though I’ve racked long-bygone moments on this continent from rocks and fossils – those remnants of deep time – the traces of a more intimate, lineal past have seemed hidden or lost.

And she invites the reader,

Come with me. We may find that home lies in re-membering – in piecing together the fragments left – and in reconciling what it means to inhabit terrains of memory, and to be one.

How can we not follow her?

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The clothes were smashed together, compressed like prom roses in a scrapbook, faded and musty. Slacks, blouses, jackets, sweaters, and skirts crammed two tiers of rods. Hangars bowed from the years of weight. There was something guileless in the arrangement.

My sisters and I gathered in the room to dismantle the still life.

There were also two dressers and a chest at the foot of the bed. All filled with clothes my mother had once worn or never worn or worn nearly to ruin. All of these spaces we would empty.

My mother had spent her last years in sweat pants and sweatshirts, rotating among a few sets of each. The clothes in her closet had barely been touched in recent years. Some of the clothes were stained from age. Dust had settled on them. Soon we were all sneezing.

It was seven months after our mother’s death. I, the out-of-towner, had returned to do an author event. It was an opportunity for the four of us to go through our mother’s closet, decide what we wanted to keep, what we would give away.

The oldest of us slid open the closet door and began removing items one by one. The styles ranged over decades – padded-shoulder blazers of the eighties, blouses in op-art prints, oversized sweaters, and more than one leopard-print jacket or windbreaker. The variety of sizes reflected our mother’s fluctuations in weight as she sometimes dieted, other times let her body reach its natural dimensions.

It was quick work for the most part. Look at this, we said to each other, holding up this or that item as if we were browsing a department store rack. What about this, we asked, suggesting that one or another of us might wear it or keep it for some other unknown reason.

Before my mother retired in the early 90s from her job as a retail clerk, she had an active wardrobe of slacks and skirts, blouses and sweaters, casual flats and low-heeled sandals.

There were lots of reds. My mother wore red well. Even the ugly red Christmas sweater. It’s a color that’s bold and upbeat, which my mother could be even though at heart she was shy. There were earthy colors too, which complemented her skin tone.

And the cool colors – deep blues and purples, which I think she preferred later in life. I could be wrong about this. After all, I’m the one who lived away all these years, seeing her a mere once or twice a year, and otherwise only talking to her on the phone – something she wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about. The phone was awkward, just our voices being transmitted, no image of our furrowed brows, darting eyes, or the clothes we were wearing that might hint at our feelings, our unspoken needs and wants, or the ways we may have failed each other.

Then there were the black clothes. Basic, goes-with-anything black. Somber. Chic. Arty like the black button-down sheath with white piping. Something that might have been in style in the 60s. It was the only dress in the closet. Why had she kept it? What memories had it held for her? What stories did it hold? What stories could I make up about it?

Most were things we could not wear (too old, too stained, too big) or would not wear (too ugly). We made big piles of clothes that were to be given away. But we rummaged and sorted and we each found a few things to take away, to inherit and maybe to wear, maybe to fold away into our own drawer or hang in our own closet.  I kept waiting to come upon that one garment that would speak to me about my mother’s life.

I settled on an old black cardigan with white flowers embroidered at the neckline. It was worn and pilled and had lost its shape. But I wanted it. I was sure of it. I have never had any writing superstitions or charms. But I decided I would invent one for myself. I would make this sweater my writing sweater. It would embrace me as I wrote. I would button it up in the winter and roll up its sleeves in summer.

For these moments, my mother and I would be close.

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It was my choice to spend Christmas alone.

Early Christmas morning my husband flew to L.A. to spend the holiday with our older daughter Natalie. She had just returned from a trip to the Philippines and getting her jetlagged self onto another plane to come to Seattle was out of the question. I’m heading to L.A. on January 2 on my way to a book event in San Diego. It didn’t make sense for me to make two trips to Southern California so close together. As for our younger daughter Ana, she’s in another hemisphere altogether, traveling in Colombia after having spent six months in El Salvador. She popped up on Instagram on Christmas Eve. It’s how we know her location: social media and my texts asking, where are you now? (Lima, Peru is the answer to that question as of today.)

Christmas by myself would be fine, I told myself. And it was. The streets were quiet when I went for a walk that morning, with hardly a car in sight. Fog shrouded the lake so even the walkers partridge2and runners on the path seemed spectral and hushed. For lunch, I ate goodies I’d picked up at the co-op the day before, including a slice of pumpkin pie. It did feel weird to eat my holiday meal with the just the cat at my side. I turned on the TV and we watched a Christmas episode of The Partridge Family. I admit to getting a little teary-eyed when the family lip-synched “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to a man who was spending Christmas alone. The cat was unmoved.

I set out extra bowls of water and kibbles for the cat, packed up my laptop and a change of clothes, and took a bus downtown. Let your heart be light, I hummed. My bus was minus the weekday work crowd so it was just the down-and-outers on the ride. Nearly all the seats were filled.

I checked into a boutique hotel where the mini-room I had reserved was perfect for a mini-writing retreat. I’d barely settled in at my laptop, when I decided to go see a movie. The writing retreat would suffer a slight delay. But movies are stories and stories feed other stories and I wanted inspiration. Even if I had to sit through endless previews, the rustling of popcorn bags, and the inevitable talker because there’s always a talker two seats away.

I saw Fences. Denzel Washington was faultless in his portrayal of a flawed and complex man whose dreams have been thwarted by the fact of his blackness. He took up most of the screen time, but when she was on screen, Viola Davis matched him. I later read that though August Wilson wrote the screenplay in 2005, he wouldn’t allow the movie to be made unless it was directed by a black artist. Good for him. Good for Denzel for getting it done.

Later my husband and I talked on the phone, he from his hotel room in Hollywood and mepizza from my Seattle boutique hotel whose restaurant was closed for Christmas. I was starving since more than six hours had passed since my holiday lunch of co-op treats. The front desk had recommended a nearby pizza place so I was waiting on the veggie pizza I’d ordered for my Christmas dinner. I was cranky because I was hungry, so after my husband told me about his mishap in the airplane bathroom, we hung up.

I ate my pizza in front of the TV, watching The Parent Trap and I kept thinking how sad it was that Natasha Richardson had died and how since then Liam Neeson had been making those screaming, bloody action movies as if that was the way he could express his grief, and also there was pre-adolescent Lindsay Lohan and I felt sad and nostalgic for innocence and cuteness.

I started to miss the cat.

My sister called from San Diego. She started passing the phone around so I could speak to my other sibs who had gathered for Christmas, but my phone ran out of minutes on the second sister.

So I wrote a little bit, read a little bit, listened to blues on the radio.

Christmas alone wasn’t so bad.

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One evening the week before Thanksgiving, my husband and I were sprawled in our opposite corners of the couch, watching the evening news.

“Next week isn’t Thanksgiving, is it?” he asked.

“Nah,” I said.

But it was. And we had no plans.

He decided to try to book a table at a restaurant, but the only available option was if we wanted to have dinner at 2:30 in the afternoon. We didn’t.

And that was fine. Thanksgiving came too soon and we had no time or energy for it. We were drained from the last days of the presidential campaign, the election results, and the aftermath. Anyway, my husband asked, “Why do we even celebrate Thanksgiving? I mean, you know, genocide?”

In the midst of the election-related turmoil, my story collection Hola and Goodbye was released by Carolina Wren Press. It came out November 1, a week before Election Day. On November 2, I boarded a plane for Raleigh, North Carolina, courtesy of my publisher who had booked me for several events. I left my solidly blue state for a swing state whose Republican governor signed HB2 into law, banning local governments from passing anti-discrimination ordinances and requiring transgender people to use the public restrooms of their biological sex.

Everyone I met apologized for the politics of their state. Of course, these were book people, people for whom stories informed their worldview, expanded their experience, deepened meredith-college-studentstheir empathy. My story collection, which deals with an immigrant generation and subsequent native-born ones, was warmly embraced at the bookstore where I read, the conference where I sat on a panel, and by a group of Latina students at a women’s college.

At my hotel, I greeted the mostly Latino housekeeping staff in the hall each morning, and chatted with the Haitian, Russian, and Somali servers at breakfast. On my last day, Election Day, the African-American desk clerk grimly informed me that the hotel would be the site of the Republican Party election night gathering. As I sat in the lobby that afternoon waiting for my shuttle to the airport, I watched the preparations for the big night, which I was certain would be a disaster for the GOP. Because after all, how could a lying racist, sexist, tax-dodging, unscrupulous businessman with no knowledge or experience of civics or civility win the presidency?

As my Iraqi shuttle driver and I discussed the election and our hopes and fears, I imagined the hotel staff of immigrants and refugees, serving trays of hors d’oeuvres, refilling glasses, wiping up spills, collecting empty plates and stacking them in dishwashers – in other words, catering to and cleaning up after the people voting against their interests and livelihoods, and for a man whose campaign repeatedly insulted them.

I got my own brown body back to my blue state, but not before I checked early election returns while still in the air, which made the turbulence juddering the plane pale compared to the agitation in my ribcage. By the time I landed and got a cab, things were dire. My cab driver (an immigrant and a Muslim) and I were silent as we listened to NPR. When I got home, my husband and I could only exchange somber looks before going to bed.

My Seattle book launch at Elliott Bay Book Company was four days later. My energy was low, the base of my neck ached, and I had a sore throat, but it was my party, scheduled months in advance, and my sisters, brothers and cousins were coming from California, not to mention, as it turned out, one of my daughters and some high school classmates making surprise appearances.

I messaged Jacque Larrainzar whose band Secuencia Acústica was providing the music for jacque-and-drumthe reading. We had planned a traditional Mexican song, a couple of boleros and some salsa tunes. Please add a song of protest and unity, I said.

So she opened with El Pueblo Unido (Jamás Será Vencido), The people united will never be defeated.

Her powerful voice and the drumbeat lifted me and I hope it did others. I read three short excerpts from my story collection – one about an immigrant from Mexico whose slow acquisition of English isolates her even in her own home, another about a young girl whose dreams of starring in an MGM musical are dashed when she is told that Mexicans don’t become stars in Hollywood; and a third about a young woman who having never learned to speak Spanish, the language of her immigrant grandmother, goes to Mexico to search for a lost self. Each excerpt was followed by a song from Secuencia Acústica, including the popular bolero Sabor a Mi.

I felt immense good will, support, and community in that space where so many stories have been shared. Here’s a reviewer of Elliott Bay Books on Yelp (with typos removed) whose words captured my hopes for the evening:

Attended Donna Miscolta’s Hola and Goodbye: Una Familia in Stories book reading.  With a divided nation, Donna’s heartfelt reading about the 3 generations of this family with roots in Mexico and California, beautifully blended with Latin music of unity was well timed.

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The following weekend was filled with other book-related events so when Thanksgiving Day arrived and we had no dinner to go to or to cook, we gladly spent a quiet day biking, walking, reading, listening to music, and writing. We did venture out once in the car on that dreary rainy day and ended up at Whole Foods where I had a plateful of mashed potatoes, turkey and gravy, and Brussel sprouts. So a Thanksgiving meal after all, to celebrate not genocide but the things I’m thankful for – family, friends, a city and county whose leaders have pledged to retain its policies that protect immigrants, and a vibrant writing community.

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Photo by Allison Green

The month ends with beauty, joy, and hope. I was elated to be among the two dozen writers invited on Sherman Alexie’s Indies First Authors on a Bus to celebrate independent bookstores on Saturday, November 26. The bus traveled to three bookstores – Third Place Books in Seward Park, University Book Store, and Elliott Bay Book Company. Each place was festive with booksellers, writers, and readers. Each writer recommended a book to readers. Mine was Fire Girl: Essays on India, America, and the In-Between by Sayantani Dasgupta.

One of the striking things about this book is not just what a good storyteller Dasgupta is, but how well she listens to the stories of others to make discoveries about the world and about herself. This is, after all, the reason for stories.

Which is why I often reference this statement by the incomparable Sherman Alexie: “I firmly believe in the power of stories to change the world, and I firmly believe in the power of one story to change one life at a time.”

Let’s all keep reading.

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Congratulations to Patty Enrado, winner of Week 3 of the #UnaFamiliaInPhotos Twitter
contest!  Her photo of her, her father, her sister, her aunties, uncles, and manongs is captioned “Family get-togethers always involve pig roasting.” It’s a photo that conveys family ties, tradition, and celebration.  patty

The runner-up is Michelle Peñaloza who submitted a photo of her father, handsome and youthful, sitting on a bench with a congenial group of family or friends.

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Each will receive an Hola and Goodbye keepsake.

The names of the five winners and runners-up were written on slips of paper and tossed on the carpet in the foyer near the Carolina Wren Press table at the North Carolina Writers’ Network Conference in the Crabtree Marriott in Raleigh. The slip of paper landing nearest a designated line was declared the winner. It also happened to be the only slip of paper that didn’t land flat on the floor, but instead stood upright – a sign we took as an omen. Witnessing this event were Robin Miura, director of Carolina Wren Press, and Tammie Ward Rice, also with the press.

And the winner of a copy of HOLA AND GOODBYE is Michelle Peñaloza!

Thanks to everyone who entered and to those who have supported the book so far with your tweets, likes, and, most of all, your purchase of the book.

Congratulations to Jennifer Munro, the winner of Week 2 of the #UnaFamiliaInPhotos Twitter contest! Captioned with “I owe everything to my mom,” Jennifer’s entry is a lovely expression of family connection. It also happens to reflect the generational theme of Hola and Goodbye. Jennifer will receive an Hola and Goodbye keepsake and a chance to win a copy of the book. The final round of contest entries starts Tuesday, October 25. View contest guidelines.

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I share several things with my father, deceased now for twenty-three years. One is the daily crossword. My father did it each afternoon when he came home from work. That’s my habit too. Each evening I log in to the New York Times and do the crossword. I can check my stats page to see my solve rate, my current streak of solved puzzles, my total number of puzzles solved.

The best part, the cutest part, is when I complete the puzzle and the page plays a tune – a lively, congratulatory ditty. Catchy – the kind of thing that sticks in your head. If you were to ask me to hum it, I would utterly fail at reproducing it.

That’s something else I share with my father – the inability to carry a tune. This deficiency has seldom caused me too much grief or mortification simply because I accept my lack of a musical ear, am resigned to my flat voice, and never, ever sing.

Other things I can’t do: cartwheel, apply mascara or eyeliner, return a volleyball over the net.  All things I’m rarely called upon to do. Like singing.

When the poet Michelle Peñaloza invited me to participate in a literary event to celebrate the elders in the Filipino-American community in Seattle, I readily agreed. We would read short pieces that celebrated family. We would invite the elders to share their stories. There would be karaoke.

I think my brain skipped over that last part. Or I convinced myself it was optional, like relish at the condiment bar.

But eventually it became clear that each of the writers was expected to sing karaoke, which included me, the worst singer in the world.

In the weeks before the event I was too busy with other concerns to give much thought to the karaoke element of the program. But when the week arrived and I needed to decide which short piece I was going to read, I also realized there was no way in hell I was going to sing in front of a room full of people. A few days before the event, I emailed Michelle and asked for special dispensation. She kindly granted me a karaoke waiver, but asked that I not divulge the favor to the other writers who might also want to back out – a total karaoke mutiny had to be avoided.

When I arrived and mingled with the other writers prior to the start of the program, I deflected or dissembled when one or another asked what song I was going to sing.

“Not sure yet,” I said, offering a shrug of indecision.

“It’s a surprise,” I said, all mysterious and coy.

The piece I had decided to read was a short essay about my mother imparting to me a ring my father had given her. The essay recently appeared in Split Lip Magazine. It seemed appropriate to an occasion that that was celebrating elders, family, and community. It occurred to me that if I were to sing, that is, if I had the ability to sing anywhere close to in tune, I knew exactly which song I would’ve chosen. If.

bobAfter Bob Flor read a couple of poems from his new chapbook Alaskero Memories, he gamely warbled his way through “Fly Me to the Moon.” Then Michelle read some of her poetry and raised the bar with a hand-wringing, heart-clasping rendition of img_20161007_165421“Crazy.”

The audience was primed. The show was rolling.

I stepped to the stage. I read my essay about aging, mother-daughter awkwardness, and unexpressed love. Then it was time for me to exercise my special waiver.

“Instead of singing a song …” I began and was immediately met with groans of … what? Disappointment? Disapproval at not playing by the rules? There were emphatic thumbs down, vociferous protests.

“So fire me!” I exclaimed from the stage, my arms raised in capitulation. But the protests continued.

I raised my voice above the din and began anew. “Instead of singing a song,” I said, again, “I’m going to talk about one.”

That went over well. More noises of disapproval.

But I plunged ahead. I told about my mother’s favorite song. How she had requested that it be sung at her funeral, and that it was. I recited the first verse of the song about renewing memories and then the last verse about a yearny heart and regrets about roaming. I told them that even though this was my mother’s favorite song, she herself had never roamed. It was my father who had roamed from his home in the Philippines, arriving in San Diego where he met my mother just about the time that her favorite song was popular on the radio, in ballrooms, and on TV. I told them that when they were married at the courthouse, their one witness was one of my dad’s shipmates, Cres Miranda, also a Filipino. Over the years, my parents lost touch with Cres Miranda. But on the day of my mother’s funeral, eight-seven-year-old Cres appeared, having driven himself from Las Vegas to San Diego where he heard my mother’s favorite song sung for her.

I was a little choked up when I said that Cres Miranda’s gesture was a reflection of the Filipino spirit of family and community, but I managed to sputter an invitation to anyone from the audience who might know the song to come up and sing it.

After I stumbled back to my seat, my eyes welling, another one of the writers, Maria Batayola, stood up and said to the audience, “Come on, you all know it.” A chorus rose up, bloomed like a rose, and it seemed the whole room was singing “Sentimental Journey,” and it was downright beautiful. And that, too, was a reflection of the Filipino spirit of family and community.

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Thanks to those who entered photos in the #UnaFamiliaInPhotos contest on Twitter. A panel of three selected Lana Ayers  as the winner for her photo captioned “After dinner disgruntlement.” The runner-up is  Dizzy Freedom shown below with some of the other great entries. The winner and runner-up will receive an Hola and Goodbye keepsake and a chance to win a copy of the book. A new round of contest entries starts Monday, October 17. View contest guidelines.

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Hola and Goodbye is a collection of stories about three generations of a family. In anticipation of its November 1 release from Carolina Wren Press, I’m running a contest on Twitter and inviting Twitter users to post a family photo with a caption.

The photo above is of some friends of my grandfather, who was also a boxer. Below is the caption,  a line from “Ana’s Dance,” one of the stories in Hola and Goodbye.

“She came upon a small yard where several young men were engaged in various boxing exercises  – punching a bag or sparring with an invisible opponent.” #UnaFamiliaInPhotos

Enter this contest by sharing a photo on Twitter for a chance to win an Hola and Goodbye keepsake or a copy of Hola and Goodbye. Here are the contest rules:

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When our first-born daughter was four, she asked me why she was the only one at her nat-5-yearspreschool who didn’t have a white mother.

I don’t exactly recall my answer to Natalie’s question, posed to me over twenty-five years ago. I’m sure I made some attempt at explaining that my heritage – Filipino and Mexican – made up part of who she was. The other part came from her dad, who is white. Our daughters have my dark eyes and dark hair, but Natalie has my husband’s skin tone and Ana has mine.

I was reminded of Natalie’s question recently at work when I helped organize and host the fourth in a series of literary readings intended to spark discussion of race and racism. I work for King County, which through its Equity and Social Justice Initiative encouraged employees to submit proposals that would help advance the goals of ESJ in or out of the workplace. The team I’m on was funded to produce four events as part of the ESJ training available to employees. The format consisted of two local poets presenting their work followed by a facilitated discussion on race and racism. Poets featured earlier this year were Quenton Baker and Casandra Lopez, Troy Osaki and Hamda Yusuf, and Anis Gisele and Shin Yu Pai.

In our last event, Kiana Davis and Djenanway Se-Gahon, two extremely poised and dandk2articulate young women, presented work that referenced a defining moment in childhood for them.

Kiana described how when she was four she wanted a doll, but could find none on the store shelf that looked like her. It made her believe that little brown girls were invisible. “We learn what’s beautiful and what’s ugly as we grow up,” she said.

When Djenanway was in kindergarten, her teacher singled her and two other children out for special attention by dandkasking the children with “melanin in their skin” to sit in the center of the carpet as a prelude to their celebration of Martin Luther King. Djenanway said that over the years she’s had to learn to dissociate the words different and discomfort because they had been so fused in that kindergarten moment.

When Natalie first observed that she was different from her peers for not having a white mother, I’m sure that I tried to respond in a way that assumed she was asking out of curiosity and not shame or discomfort. I wanted to set the tone for similar experiences she was bound to have in the future.

I knew my children’s experience would be different from mine. Where I grew up, I saw brown and black people in my neighborhood every day. Even so, I didn’t escape childhood without wishing I’d been born blonde and blue-eyed. As Kiana said, “We learn what’s beautiful and what’s ugly as we grow up.”

In elementary school, when Natalie’s friends realized that darker-skinned Ana was her sister, they wondered if Ana had been adopted. Another time, when a classmate of Natalie’s saw me, she asked Natalie if I was the family’s nanny. Such was the experience of these students when it came to people of color.

When my husband and I bought our house in North Seattle in 1984, only sixteen years had passed since the racial restrictive covenants in place in my neighborhood had finally been outlawed. Thirty years later, it’s still rare for me to see more than a few people of color where I live. Change takes time, especially if access to housing and other rights have been historically restricted through social institutions.

The ESJ Literary Project at work gives me hope that change does happen. Bringing writers of color into the workplace to share their stories has people listening, thinking, admitting confusion and discomfort, and asking questions. “What do I do?” asked an audience participant who confessed to feeling helpless.

Kiana and Djenanway offered these actions: Go to the Reparations website. Be an ally. To get started on the latter in Seattle, try going here.