"We must read Shakespeare and authors who are women, Arab, Muslim, queer. Most of the world is neither white nor European, and the United States may be a majority-minority country by mid-century. White people will gain more by embracing this reality rather than fighting it. As for literature, the mind-set that turns the canon into a bunker in order to defend one dialect of English is the same mind-set that closes borders, enacts tariffs and declares trade wars to protect its precious commodities and its besieged whiteness. But literature, like the economy, withers when it closes itself off from the world. The world is coming anyway. It demands that we know ourselves and the Other....."
Welcome to the Central Virginia Chapter of Writing for Peace!
Thanks to Sara Bausch for this share.
“Regardless of how anyone treats you, you stand to benefit. While some people teach you who you do want to be, others teach you who you don’t want to be. And it’s the people who teach you who you don’t want to be that provide some of the most lasting and memorable lessons on social graces, human dignity, and the importance of acting with integrity.”
"Remember the deepest desire of the human heart is to belong … to be welcomed … to know you are seen and worthy of kindness."
Thanks to CVWFP Chapter Member Kalimah Patricia Carter for sharing this important read.
The Year I Stopped Breathing: On Being Muslim and American in the Age of Trump
Trump didn’t invent Islamophobia, but he has injected it with a new and lethal force.
".....Our fears were not abstract..."
Almost instantly, mosques were vandalized. Muslim parents agonized over their children’s safety at school. Violent assaults increased not only in number but also in ferocity. As all of this was occurring, we were working hard to look out for one another, while also trying not to lose sight of what this catastrophe meant for the nation as a whole....."
"...we can’t let our energies dissipate...."
"...Like the Japanese-American woman from Brooklyn who offered her help to Muslim strangers in 2001, we need to show the level of concern for one another that the times demand. We need to organize our energies to secure a more just and humane future. And we need to do so with a mass surge of people beside us....."
Hobbies are important. We need escape from the stress of what can seem from tweets and headlines to be a spiraling out of control society.
This is to say nothing of the pressures of work, school, friends, and family. Some people watch or play sports. Some read and many of us mainline TV shows from various streaming services. Me? I sit and yell about dragons and elves. I love tabletop card games and my main obsession is Magic: The Gathering. Most weekends I can be found slinging spells in hobby shops and in kitchens over drinks.
If my mentioning the 25-year-old trading card game summons images of entitled man-babies casting cards between misogynistic slurs that’s… not entirely unfair.
Magic, like much of nerd culture, is having to come to terms with its “boys' club” reputation.
While less high-profile than the recent kerfuffle over Star Wars daring to have strong female characters, and then the toxic mess that was “Gamergate,” Magic has had its fair share of scandals.
To their credit, Wizards of the Coast (the game’s publisher) has stepped up their social justice game. The YouTube content creator who was responsible for driving a cosplayer from the game was banned from organized play for life. Wizards have added LGBT and neurodiverse characters in several recent sets. While obviously still evolving and imperfect, it is nice to see this effort on a corporate level.
It’s too easy for me, a white cis straight man, to sit back and ignore the ongoing toxicity in the Magic community at a local level. “Society is progressing,” I might say, “it is only a matter of time before these issues are erased.” After all, I deserve to enjoy my hobby, right?
But the diverse gamers with whom I share tabletops deserve to enjoy it as well, and to enjoy it now.
Contrary to stereotypes, I play with kids and adults of multiple genders, races, orientations, and gender identities. The kids on the spectrum I play with deserve to play without hearing casual ableist slurs. The LGBTQ players deserve to play without hearing that an overpowered card is “gay.” The women that I play with, who are already asked too often which players’ girlfriends they are, as if that is the only reason they have taken an interest in the game, don’t deserve to have to sit next to cards sleeved with pictures of half-naked anime girls.
This where I have to be better.
I have to remind myself that, even it’s uncomfortable, I have to tell the kid at the next table that his racist joke isn’t cool. No matter how bad my work week has been, I have to call out casual utterances of “f*ggot” and “r*tard” when I hear them.
The game does not just belong to me, and as an enfranchised player, I have a voice to make the community better for everybody involved.
I have to do this even if it means having awkward conversations with store owners and tournament organizers. I cannot be perfect, but I have to be better. Now, especially now, hobbies are important for everybody.
Stephen Ownby is a member of the Central Virginia Chapter of Writing for Peace. He graduated from Longwood University in 2010 with a BA in English with a Concentration in Creative Writing. He writes, hopefully with increasing frequency, poetry and nonfiction about politics and culture. Stephen lives in Henrico County with his wife Carey and their two spoiled cats.