Some things that I cared about a couple weeks ago simply don’t matter anymore. And I have no idea why I ever cared about some of the things that mattered to me a few months ago. A pandemic that’s killed 110,000 Americans and caused 40,000,000 to file for unemployment—and watching George Floyd get crushed to death—has redefined for me what matters.
Being able to breathe matters. Not fearing being crushed by someone with power matters.
This month, I’ve been disappointed that my autoimmune disease and fear of being exposed to COVID-19 prevented me from contributing to the voices around the world that have been speaking out against racial inequality. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve spoken out against social injustice and people who abuse their power. And now, at what seems like the most pivotal time in my country’s history concerning the pursuit of racial equity, I’ve had to stay home where my voice can’t be heard. Because I’m a writer, my reflexive response was to write about my feelings. I quickly realized that it doesn’t matter how I feel in this historic moment. The limitations imposed on me by my immune system and the unknown harm that COVID-19 could bring to me do not matter.
What matters right now is that there are people in my country who experience the terrifying reality every moment they are out in public of not knowing if they’ll live to see another day—just because of the color of their skin. I am privileged to not worry about the color of my skin getting me killed. I have nothing to complain about that matters compared to the reality that black and brown people endure.
I’ve also realized that I shouldn’t regret not being able to lend my voice to the fight for racial and ethnic equality. This is because I’ve already written about the matter—three books worth. I published them on the eve of the pandemic with the desire to tell the historically voiceless, “I hear you.” The protagonists in my When Life Was Still trilogy struggle to pursue their dreams in an America that doesn’t provide equal opportunities to everyone. I can’t join a march right now in protest of inequities. But I have shared my thoughts on the matter through the voices of my characters.
I’ve been donating the proceeds of my book sales to FeedingAmerica.org. But this month I want to do something more to contribute to this moment in American history. I want to help secure a better world for future generations. I want to encourage people to use their voting power to make a stand for human decency on America’s Election Day in November and in other elections around the world. I want readers to think about the historical issues my characters contemplate that still present hurdles for marginalized people today.
So, during June, I am giving free e-books of my trilogy in PDF format to anyone who will be voting for candidates who promote and demonstrate human decency. These are the leaders that are needed in all levels of government to address what really matters. If we all make a political statement against inequality and agendas that serve the privileged, then maybe someday people with all skin colors will be able to go out in public and know that it’s safe to just breathe.
For details on how to get free e-books of the When Life Was Still trilogy in June, go to: https://whenlifewasstill.com/ .
© 2020 by Julie Ryan. All rights reserved
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