My mother died last night.
Originally posted to the Community section of MyMedia;
a bit of content added at the end.
I am personally not opposed to ethical pornography, just as I am not opposed to women choosing to be sex workers (though the legalization of sex work is a hot button, often politicized, so I’ll stop right here on that).
Ethical pornography, for those wondering, is made by people who a) want to be there*, and b) are of legal age to sign contracts to that effect.
I became aware, a couple of weeks ago, of a scandal in Australia, wherein young boys–and I mean boys, as young as 13/14– mostly from expensive private schools, share pornography through online forums created and maintained exclusively for this purpose.
Which, despite the young age of the users, I would still be okay with, if–and this is a big if–the people whose images are being shared had consented to this.
Instead, it turns out, these boys are literally hunting naked images of school girls–in many cases, classmates!!!–to share with other boys across the country. And, as packs always do, the boys, and occasional young adult man, encourage each other to greater depths of immoral behaviour, by rewarding each other for ‘wins’ (aka, specific images of specific girls, targeted often at the request of someone who knows that girl).
Should be, yes.
Tomorrow morning, about 8am Eastern, the medical team will attempt surgery on my mother, for the second time, to try and remove as much as possible of the glioblastoma that’s putting so much pressure on her brain.
The pros: she’s a lot stronger than she was two weeks ago, and has been receiving consistently better care around the clock in this hospital than she had for almost two weeks in the previous two hospitals. Also, the neurosurgeon, the cardiologist, and the anesthesiologist who are caring for her are all very positive about the surgery. The anesthesiologist also said he’ll try something slightly different, to try and avoid a repeat of the first time.
The cons: she’s 81 years old, and has spent over five weeks in hospital beds; also, this type of cancer is very aggressive and, by its very nature, it is impossible to remove all the cancerous cells.
Either way, once more, if you would spare some prayers or good thoughts for her, they will be much appreciated.
Updated 2:20pm Eastern: I just received a one-line text from one of my siblings. My mother is out of surgery, and the doctors will tell them more later. For now, it’s more than enough to know she’s still fighting. Thank you, most sincerely, for your good thoughts and prayers.
Thank you for your generosity of spirit.
Justine Labarlestier, a YA author, has a wonderful essay on Reading While White, about her own evolution, as a white author, on the matter of race. I do hope you follow the link and read the whole thing, but here are a couple of short-ish quotes, to give you an idea:
For years the response to my books—glowing reviews, award nominations, fan letters from People of Colour—supported my belief that I was doing good.
I had read critiques of the white saviour complex but was sure they didn’t apply to me. But one day in early 2009 a black woman blogger wrote a critique of my novel Liar.
Liar has a black teen protagonist. The blogger wrote that the book hurt her, that it was full of painful tropes, and that she would not read anything else I wrote unless it was not about People of Colour because I could not be trusted with the stories of anyone who isn’t white. Further, that she wasn’t going to read any more books with PoC protags by white people because we always get it wrong.
I felt like I’d been punched.
It was the most painful criticism any of my books had ever received and I’ve had reviews call for my books to be burnt and me to be slapped.
I sent the critique to several friends so they could reassure me she was wrong.
Yes, in the face of someone literally stating she had been hurt by the racist tropes in my book, all I wanted was reassurance. I thought my hurt feelings were more important than her actual pain.
Today it’s been thirty one days since my mother had the seizures that put her in a hospital bed.
As I write this, I’m waiting to hear, from my beleaguered siblings, whether the medical team overseeing her care, has recommended to try the surgery a second time, or not; as well as what her prognosis is, under whatever treatment we, the family and the doctors, decide on.
In the meantime, my siblings tell me, she is stable, vital signs-wise, and aware and coherent a good three thirds of the time she’s awake. On the down side, she’s in pain, and uncomfortable with all the many indignities that come with being helpless in a hospital setting.
As Ms Jones said, being the one at the other end of the phone–or text or email–is hell.
Below the cut, a bit more detail, and a couple of rants, so feel free to skip this–I really don’t want to depress anyone with my shit.
I’ve been on denial for almost a week.
The MRI done on my mother last
Friday Thursday showed a tumor in her brain–specifically, a glioblastoma. The diagnosis was confirmed the following morning.
Because reasons, it was only about an hour ago that the neurosurgeon finally met with my siblings. My mother will be having surgery tomorrow morning, starting sometime around 11:00-11:30 am Eastern. Barring complications, she should be in recovery about four hours later.
Any good thoughts or prayers you may spare for her wellbeing, are deeply appreciated.
Update: couldn’t do the procedure, because her blood pressure spiked too high and too long. On waiting mode until a geriatric cardiologist can evaluate her, see if the surgery can happen at all. If not, determine course of action.
Thank you, again, from the bottom of my heart, for your good wishes and prayers. She’s alive, awake, and resting, and that’s already a victory in the circumstances. Thank you.
An excellent, if long, follow up, to the Fireside report on SSF and black authors, with some pointed answers to oft asked questions, written by a Black, published author of SSF short stories:
Hi. I’m a small time SFF writer. I’m black. I also submit short stories to paying SFF markets. Most times I’m not successful in selling my stories. A few wonderful times, I am. Do I see lots of stories published in top SFF markets with faces like mine? No. And believe me, I search for them. It’s not the most scientific process: Are the characters black? Do I detect an inference to anything black-ish? Hmm… that author’s name sounds black, lemee google em up right quick. Again, not exactly a science. But it’s what I got. Are the gatekeepers at these SFF markets black? Rarely. At least rare enough that when one or two are, they show up in black SFF spaces to announce with hopeful desperation: “I’m working at so-and-so. Please, please, please submit your stories because the slush is whiter than a Gods of Egypt, Noah, Exodus triple-feature!”
Because if black SFF writers are being underrepresented in short story markets, then SFF as a whole is going to be less representative. Think I’m exagerrating? Okay. Here’s a neat trick: name five black SFF writers off the top of your head that you’ve read or even heard about–whose last names aren’t Butler, Delany, Okorafor or Jemisin. If you struggling, best keep reading.
When black writers are excluded from these markets not only do we lose out on connections and networking, but simple cold hard cash. That’s money that might fund a trip to a con, or to attend a writer’s workshop, or a better laptop/software, or the space and time to write, or rent, or a basic incentive to publish–cuz altruism is noble, but it don’t pay none. Given the long history of wealth exclusion for black people in America, there’s a discomfiting knowledge that under representation in some of these paying SFF markets creates a type of financial inequity that is essentially shuttering black creativity.
(7) Maybe “race” isn’t the only reason your story is rejected. I actually saw someone write this. With words. Thanks for splainin’ how submitting and rejection works Sherlock. No one is saying that race is the sole reason black writers are not being published in mainstream SFF. This seems, in fact, to be a sly way of making the “quality” argument: the universal lament of concern trolls to just about every appeal for diversity, in everything. When I get rejected, and it happens lots, I understand all sorts of factors go into that. Maybe the story doesn’t fit their needs. Maybe it’s not that good. Maybe they’re pretty stocked up on steampunk pirate stories. Issues of race and diversity are just one added factor. I don’t just automatically say “Bet I was rejected because I’m black!” That’s just what you see in wack 1980s and 1990s sitcoms and movies. In real life, black folks go through entire mental quantum field models of self-doubt before even raising the “R” word–if only because we expect to be finger-wagged by a society that almost never ever believes us. When you hear a black person “cry” racism, trust that we done already quadruple-checked our math. But I also understand that “quality” is as arbitrary as anything else.
[b] The burden of change here is on SFF markets not on black writers. I repeat, the burden of change is on SFF markets not black writers. Don’t tell black people to open up their own SFF markets. Don’t say, “well you guys gotta submit more.” If SFF markets want diverse stories, they’re going to have to do more than simply state it and then wait patiently for it to happen. Words and intentions are nice. But without concerted action there’s not going to be much change. SFF markets are going to have to take part in engaged activism to bring in black writers, to increase the submissions of black writers and to publish more black writers. It ain’t gonna happen by osmosis.
Seriously, go read the whole thing–if I could, I would quote the entire thing here, because it addresses all the many explanations and justifications given to exclude Black authors, and pretty much all minorities, from mainstream genres across the board–the same argument can easily be made when talking about romance, mystery, historical fiction…You name it, think about it, and you’ll see just how true this holds for literature in a country that is not homogeneous in its makeup.