Hallo out there in internet land, and thanks to Judy and Marianne for having me here as a guest blogger.
Most of my books have some amount of humor in them, and you might be expecting something silly here today. Unfortunately, something I heard not too long ago really floored me when I heard it, and that made me want to talk about a more serious topic for once.
I deal with that quite a lot in my day job. I teach in a school system with more ethnic diversity than some major metropolitan areas. Ok, I teach in a school system IN a major metropolitan area. Beyond that, I teach in an area where the economy is… Depressed? That’s somehow too light. This economy makes a bus full of Goth kids look like the Partridge Family. The only reason I mention that is that I’ve noticed for some reason, when incomes fall, body modification becomes the norm rather than the exception. Every other student is tattooed, pierced, dyed, or otherwise modified in some way.
So I teach in a very diverse environment.
In my books, when I’m not writing Urban Fantasy, where plenty of the characters aren’t even human, I’m writing Steam Punk. The Steam Punk I’ve written, perhaps unsurprisingly given where I spend my days, has a cast of characters with at least as much diversity as the school I teach in. OK, some of those characters haven’t seen the page yet, but they’re there waiting for me to write them. Those characters get up to the typical things characters do; loving, hating, working, playing, fighting with one another and by one another’s sides.
So I write fiction that’s got a pretty diverse cast.
Now, the comment that blew me away was by an adult, someone I would expect to have matured beyond the petty ‘he looks different to me’ concerns. However, as I was typing away in the computer lab, I heard the comment ‘Checkerboard? Oh, that’s disgusting’. When I looked to see what the other person was talking about, it was a printout of a middle aged man who had tattooed his entire face in a checkerboard pattern.
Was it striking? Oh, definitely. Was it life-altering? If he intended to get a job in the corporate world, it probably was. Was it something I’d do personally? I don’t see it happening.
Was it disgusting?
That comment sensitized me to the comments I was hearing after that. I heard a lot more comments about what ‘disgusts’ some ostensible adults: a girl dressed up as and acting like a guy; an interracial couple; a couple that sits in one another’s laps at lunch every day. All of these have been deemed ‘disgusting’.
Are any of those things ‘disgusting’? Really? They’re odd, yes. They’re not ‘normal’. But… Since I’ve become a parent, my bar for ‘disgusting’ has gone up a few notches: the contents of a diaper; eating (perishable) food that’s been hidden under the couch for a week; eating… Well, I’m going to STOP now, because there is literally NO limit to the amount of ‘disgusting’ two little boys can come up with when they put their minds to it. Suffice it to say, when I say ‘disgusting’, I’m talking about something that has the potential to make me blow chunks.
Now that I’ve perhaps killed your appetite with the stories of little boys doing what little boys are wont to do, back to the writing and the teaching and the point of this whole essay. When it comes to writing, I’ve had a few bits of imagery that I would label ‘disgusting’ (I write some things with Gothic Horror elements), but it never occurred to me to put body modification or interracial couples on that list. I write about love and courage and humor, and those things know no color or creed or orientation. When it comes to teaching, at least once a week I bring the point home to my students that it is NOT OK to use terms describing ethnicity or sexual preference as a slur.
So… My point.
Most of us reading this today realize the kind of intolerant behavior I’m talking about today is NOT OK. If you don’t… Well, if you don’t, why don’t you tell me why you think it’s OK. If you DO realize it’s NOT OK, then do something entirely different for me. Next time you hear or see someone being intolerant, stand up and tell them it’s not all right. You don’t have to be pugnacious about it. All you have to do is Not Be Silent.
That’s not too hard, right?
If you liked what you read here (or if you didn't and want to give me a piece of your mind) please come visit me at http://www.robertcroman.com/. If you'd like to take a gander at what I've written, cruise on over to http://www.decadentpublishing.com/, keyword Robert Roman and check out my books!
Bob started telling stories when he was a kid. He didn’t start writing them down until a few years ago. When he did, folks read them and asked for more. They keep asking, so he keeps writing.