Tag Archives: fear

Disturbed by Prejudice: Hunger Games, Writing and Public Perception

I’m not gonna lie.  I’m extremely disturbed.  First the bullying in our schools, the homophobia with the Clementi/Ravi case and now, the outcry over casting decisions for Hunger Games.

If you haven’t heard, the scuttlebutt is that some people are downright angry that several key characters in the film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ novel were…not quite what they pictured.

Namely, and I quote: “why did the producer make all the good characters black smh” and “why is Rue a little black girl?”

Um, because she was in the book.  And even if she hadn’t been, what difference does it make?  Rue is an innocent, sweet child who was thrust into the games as cruelly as all the other kids.  Her death was tragic–on the page and on the screen.

Not all agree with me.  In fact, one such tweeter admitted that Rue’s skin color on the big screen ruined the movie for her.

Another took it one step further: “Kk call me racist but when I found out rue was black her death wasn’t as sad”

Okay, I’ll bite.  That is extremely racist.  And seriously messed up.  A young child’s death isn’t sad because her skin is darker than yours?  This sentiment hearkens back to the day of Nazi Germany.  It echoes the hatred heaped on the Irish in America’s early days.  It encompasses the sheer viciousness of our planet’s history.  It is a sad commentary on just how un-evolved human beings really are.

I’m not gonna lie, people’s ignorant, undereducated and outdated beliefs creep me out.

I think this is why my younger juvenile lit is full of bullies.  I like to tackle the issue of fitting in.  I like to empower my characters and encourage them to take control of their destinies by believing in themselves and not abiding by the labels provided to them by others–ignorant, undereducated and outdated others.

By doing so, I hope to empower and encourage kids to come out stronger, smarter and less likely to spread hate and prejudice themselves.  We need to break the cycle of bullying in our society–by kids and by the adults who should know better.

I applaud Ms. Collins for the beautiful portrayal of her characters.  I applaud the casting decisions and am thrilled that the Hunger Games movie was not white-washed.  Because, guess what?  We are only as good or as bad as our behavior.  And bad behavior knows no skin color.

On days like this, I’m embarrassed to be blonde-haired and blue-eyed.  I don’t want to be judged by the color of my skin.  Because, honestly, I am the sum total of what I’ve done, what I believe and what I feel.  Not what I look like.

I’m too disturbed to ask any questions, so please feel free to share your thoughts on the topic.  Any tips you have on how writers can help perpetuate acceptance rather than intolerance would be greatly appreciated.

To read more about this, hop on over to the post Racist Hunger Games Fans Are Very Disappointed.

Afraid of the Flush: Writing Fears

Sock Dog returned from her first hunting trip a few weeks ago.  I cannot repeat in public Dear Hubby’s choice words over her performance.  So, off she went to a different dog trainer.

The verdict?

Sock Dog, the almighty pheasant hunter, is afraid of the flush.  She’s got a great nose, she’s enthusiastic and athletic.  She’s everything a great hunting lab should be–except terrified of the birds when they flush from the tall grasses.

Ever get the feeling that writers are no different?

It’s like we’re bred to write, but we’re afraid of success.  We hear the flutter of wings in the distance and drop back behind others.  We allow fear (of success, of failure, of ourselves) to paralyze us and keep us from taking that next step.

Anyone else ever feel this way?  How do you overcome the fear of the imagined and take the next step that will lead you to the very thing you’ve been dreaming of?  How do you learn to delight in the flush regardless of whether or not you get the bird?

Curious minds want to know.

Thoughts on America’s Melting Pot and Prejudice

Yesterday, I had the dubious pleasure of flying home from a visit to my sister.  She lives in Virginia, not too far from Washington DC.  It also happened to be the 10th Anniversary of 9-11.

I’ll fully admit to being slightly disconcerted by this fact.  My time waiting at the airport to board my plane made it clear others felt the same disquiet.  It didn’t help that terrorist plots had been uncovered and that every television was tuned into the memorial services at Ground Zero.

It also didn’t help that from my vantage point, at least a dozen individuals of Arabian descent also waited for their planes.

Observations over the next hour made me a bit ashamed of the melting pot we call home.

We clearly hadn’t melted.

Not that airports are the friendliest places to begin with, but the cold-shoulder literally sent goosebumps over my arms.  A ring of empty chairs surrounded each small group of dark-skinned, dark-haired, turbaned individuals in an otherwise crowded place.  People either averted their eyes or openly stared.  Nobody cracked a smile or passed along a kind word. 

Folks, I’m just gonna throw this out there.  We have all been the outcast at some point.  By America’s very nature–by human nature–our heritages come from the oppressed and disgraced.  We are all the product of some form of derision based on where we came from or what we believed.  Our blood–and our pasts–are not pure.  And yet, we strive to break free of the connotations that once defined–in the eyes of those feeling supreme–our genetic history.

We fail to consider that, while we are shaped by our heritages, we should not be stereotyped by the past.  Nor should we stereotype our present.

My German ancestors do not make me a Nazi.  Heck, by the time World War II broke out, they had already melted in America for generations and fought for their new homeland.  Likewise, I couldn’t shoot a bow and arrow to save my life despite the Native American blood that mingles with the rest of my genetic code. 

I’ll venture to say that the families in the airport were not responsible for the terrorist attacks a decade ago.   

My heart aches for the loss on September 11, 2001.  Families were torn apart and a hole was left in our collective conscience–physically via the Twin Towers and emotionally via our current state of cultural fear.

When our flight was called, two young men of obvious Arabian descent stood and gathered their things.  They had been sitting beside me, conversing quietly in their native tongue.  A total of eight people prepared to board and I commented to the men that our final destination didn’t seem very popular.

Immediately, the masks they wore fell away and they grinned back at me.  For one brief moment in the wake of pain and discomfort, they had become human.  Accepted and not judged by actions that were not their own.  That tiny act of kindness allowed them to melt into the greatness of America. 

Dear readers, I challenge you to examine your prejudices, stereotypes and fears as they pertain to the people you encounter each day.  Are these biases founded in the reality of your life, or are they part of a more collective mindset?  Can you break them and make the difference in someone else’s day?  Do you even want to?

You don’t have to publicly answer those questions, but I would like you to consider the legacy you are leaving behind.  Because, really, we alone are responsible for our actions and the impact we make in our homes, our communities and our world history.   

You are all in my thoughts and prayers.