I cannot believe that it was fourteen years ago when my first novel, Without Grace, was published. So much has happened professionally, personally and politically since then. It was also around the time that Arianna Huffington invited me to blog for her brainchild, Huffington Post. I was thrilled to have a place to share my thoughts on the publishing industry, including reviewing books, what was going on personally, and how I felt about the state of politics. Some people, though, felt I, as an author, shouldn’t share my opinions about the last-mentioned. One woman in particular scolded me on Facebook, telling me I would hinder sales of my book if I did so. I had already considered that but felt I couldn’t keep quiet about so many of the issues occurring then. My writing was important to me and I wanted people to discover it; however, the unsettling affairs of what was going on in the world was more important. Yet, in reality, I was a no name and who really cared what I thought?
That leads me to address the idea of those who have a megaphone, so to speak, and share their opinions on what’s happening in our world. Sports figures who take a knee, actors and actresses who call out what they view as wrongs while accepting an award and even politicians who criticize the president are often rebuked, being told they shouldn’t use their voice to express their thoughts. But should they forfeit their right to speak because they have a recognizable name? Should they just play football, or memorize their lines, or turn their back to what they see as injustice gone wild because of who they are? While there are some notable folks I wish would keep quiet when I don’t agree with what they are saying, I think it would be undemocratic to silence anyone from the right to free speech. But we should have the right to challenge without recrimination.
The thing is, there are so many people who don’t have the means to share their thoughts because they are, like me, a no name, but care deeply about how the prejudices and hatred affects them and those around them. This is why I applaud when Colin Kaepernick takes a knee knowing it could be a career-changer, when Meryl Streep, at the Golden Globes, speaks out against the vitriol that the president stirs, or when Stephen King takes to Twitter to challenge the racism coming from the highest office in the land. So far, unfortunately, their actions and voices haven’t seemed to temper the abundance of hatred we are witnessing on a daily basis, but the real enemy is silence, so we must all raise our voices, no matter who we are, to put the brakes on the hatred and prejudice. Because, for what it’s worth, it seems history is repeating itself and that makes me want to scream. But my voice alone is not enough.