Join us as Brandon Witt goes Outside the Margins.
There’s many things I’m excited about as I transition to my little bitty house. The biggest is that it will hopefully allow me to write full time while being supported by my two part-time jobs. Besides that, there are a host of other reasons I’m thrilled at this new adventure. One of them, as un-PC as it may be (and if you know me at all, very few things annoy me as much as PC culture), is the racial diverse neighborhood to which I’m moving. Honestly, it’s made a few people uncomfortable in regards to possible safety, although, I believes more due to socio-economic factors more than actual race.
Confession time. As excited as I am about this particular aspect, now that I’m coming more face to face with the daily interactions, I must admit, I’m feeling a bit trepidations. Granted, I’ve long ago left my farm-boy, mid-west, lock-the-car doors when you see someone with skin that isn’t snowy-white. (Remember, I said I’m not PC, and I tend to say things how they are. I grew up in an Ozark town of 3,000 people. You do the math.) And, while those days are far behind me, the people of color that I’m around (yes, every color) are either friends, co-workers in non-profit fields, or families of my students. In all of those factors, there’s a safety net, an equal footing. In my new neighborhood, at least right now, there’s not an equal footing. And, I’m not sure how to handle it sometimes. Do I have a shot of fear go through me when I see a male-figure walking towards in me in a hoodie? Yeah, I do. I wish I didn’t. I’d like to lie and I that I don’t look twice, but my heart rate increases and I’m afraid. For a million reasons. In my head, they’re gonna see some faggot, and that’s asking for trouble. Then reality sets in, and I realize that I ‘can pass’ if I have too. However, if I do, then I’m some tatted-up white guy who’s been called a ‘meat-head’ on occasion by people judging from my appearance—probably when I’m not wearing one of my flaming scarves. That muscley-tatted look can come off as a challenge, as a threat. Considering I’ve never been in any type of physical altercation, I would assume that ‘look’ would evaporate fairly quickly.
Taking a step further, even my home depot, where I’ve practically been living lately, is largely staffed by a racial diverse group of people. I’ve had to come to the realization that I don’t like asking for help from people that aren’t white. Not because I think I’m too good to speak to them or anything, but because I don’t want to come across like I’m treating people as lesser than me, like they are there to serve me. And, yeah, I realize that’s their job. They’re at Home Depot. They are there to help this dumbass who doesn’t know a thing about home improvement and needs every step spelled out for him.
In fully disclosure, I think this feeling is heightened because of the state of our country right now, at least for me. I’m a talk-radio junkie, and I get news feeds from both the right-wing and left-wing junkets (I feel like I get a more genuine picture of reality that way). In my recollection, at least in my adulthood, I don’t remember a time of more racial tension. It seems every day lately, there is a new story about a black kid getting killed by a white cop. Now you hear about cops getting killed for being cops. Just like I have the humiliating shot of fear go through me when I see a hooded figure walking towards me, maybe they have a shot of fear go through them when they see a tattooed, muscley white guy headed their direction (sans scarf and corgi, of course). It’s also the first time in my adult I’ve though of it as us and them. Truly. And I hate. And while I’m more afraid than I was, more than I want to admit honestly, I’ve even more glad to be making this move.
I have similar jolts of trepidation with other groups (people with Christian bumber stickers, people in big trucks, people with an American flag on their car—-you can only get yelled ‘faggot’ so often before you start to make sweeping connections). However, I’ve grown accustomed to those. This will be a new discovery.
You shouldn’t give into fear. You should write the novel. You should take leap. You should look in the other person’s eyes. Sure, sometimes you might crash, but, more often, you fly.
In addition to just needed to get this out there, at the risk of saying something offensive, there is actually another point I’m… wondering about. And, while I’m not trying to be offensive in anything, really, I’m not going to grovel if I have accidently offended. I’m tried of all of us being offended about every fucking thing. Nothing changes if we can’t speak because someone is offended. Growth takes some offending sometimes. And, so does freedom. However, offense is not my purpose. My purpose it twofold:
One, I want to open up communication around this issue (and, yes, I know many people are talking about it across the country), and I’m not wanting a political debate. I’m just talking about you and me, we members of community, regardless of what kind of party our pigment might be having (whether we are neighbors by zip code or Facebook connection).
Two, I want open up compunction around different races in the MM fiction world. I have two stories published about African-American characters (one gay, one lesbian). I hopefully will have a short-story and two novels with black gay men as leads—I say black in this case because these are about fairies, so I don’t know if they would really classify themselves as African-Americans, as they would be pretty offended at being grouped in with humans in general).
There has been a lot of talk about if women have the right to write gay fiction. Honestly, at this point, I’m sick to death of hearing about it. Of course women have the right to write about it. If you have any other notion about their ‘rights,’ you’re an idiot. And yes, feel free to be offended. Luckily, you have the right to believe your asinine sexism theology, so go right ahead. However, there is a similar question about whether a white person has the right to write about minority characters. And, of course, the question isn’t really about the ‘right’ but more about the ‘should.’ Let me tell you, writing a different race than me is hand’s down one of the scariest things I’ve ever done in regards to my writing. Part of me wishes I were doing it to be provocative or to change things for the better. I’m not, honestly. These characters, just like all others, came to me how they are. So I write them, scared or not. However, I do worry about backlash or, even worse, writing it incorrectly.
There you have it. My too-many-jumbled thoughts that I had to get out. For better or worse. If you’ve made it this far, you deserve a cheeseburger!
~ Brandon Witt
About Brandon Witt
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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