I think about the future a lot lately, like every day, almost endlessly. For one thing, I turn 68 in a few months and the future is not as long or as far away as it once was. For another thing, I have a grandson now, and I wonder what the future means for him. Will the air be clean enough, water plentiful enough, health care available enough? Will white power structures continue to ignore, suppress, or discount the existence of people of color? This last question was very much on my mind this past week.
I watched the impeachment trial – all five days, though after the first two, I made feeble attempts at writing while it played on my laptop. I saw the House Managers present to the Senate a cogent, persuasive, and fact-based argument for conviction. They were on the side of truth.
I saw the defense bumble, lie, obfuscate, and engage in theatrics because they had nothing on which to base a defense of the ex-president’s role in inciting a racist, white supremacist mob to overtake the Capitol and hunt down lawmakers. They were nowhere near the side of truth.
On Saturday when the senate voted I watched, even though the outcome was predetermined. As the roll was called and the inevitable happened, I still cried.
On Twitter, Ricky Davila tweeted: I know it was expected, but every single one of those not guilty votes were a gut punch.
My feelings exactly. Despite the racist history of this country, despite my own witness to injustice, I still held a glimmer of fairy tale hope that maybe this time magic or a miracle of enlightenment would move the Republicans to truth.
On the same day that I was toggling between CNN’s coverage of the impeachment trial and my Twitter feed, the Seattle Times tweeted the story about the writers of color calling for the resignation of Hugo House’s executive director due to lack of faith in her ability to address the systemic and structural racism that many writers of color have experienced and attested to over the years.
A letter from the group with signature support from over 200 writers was sent to Hugo House last July delineating its grievances. The lack of action from Hugo House since then prompted the recent resignation demand.
Anastacia Renee, Claudia Castro Luna, Dujie Tahat, Harold Taw, and Shankar Narayan have been at the forefront of this effort. They encourage community members to demonstrate support by writing to Hugo House at firstname.lastname@example.org with a cc to email@example.com, by making their support public through social media, op-eds, or articles, and by writing to donors and public and private funders.
In the meantime, five board members have resigned and over 70 Hugo House teachers have pledged to strike. Members of the writing community believe it’s past time for a change.
Once while sitting in the mostly white audience at Hugo House waiting for an event to begin, I overheard the conversation behind me between two women who were discussing their latest writing triumphs and disappointments. One of the women, after sharing that she’d been accepted to a well-known writing conference, bemoaned the rejection she’d received from Hedgebrook, the writing retreat for women on Whidbey Island which has long practiced inclusiveness in terms of race, culture, age, and other determinants of diversity. The woman attributed her rejection to her being white, the implication being that something was taken or withheld from her deserving self. In that auditorium full of white people, it was no wonder she seemed not to understand the sharing of space, opportunity, and resources. This is the mindset that extends to organizations and governments, one that requires systemic transformation.
I end once again with a video of Ilio, who at 16 months discovers something new about the world every day. His days are made of wonder and joy and a healthy measure of grumpiness. As he heads into the future, I hope there will be a society in transformation to greet him.