• Kenesha Williams

Writing While the World is Burning

Updated: Jun 22, 2020

So, 2020, eh? We’re in Chapter 6 (June) of The Book of 2020 and that means that even amid a deadly pandemic, Black people must go out and protest against senseless murders of Black people by the police. This round of protests inspired by the murder of George Floyd has led to massive protests worldwide along with corporations and other businesses (finally) proclaiming Black Lives Matter.

Many people/corporations in different industries are promising to do better and institute policies and procedures to address and fix systemic racism. I don’t know what’s finally changed the hearts (I hope) and minds of institutions to finally recognize the systemic racism that permeates every single thing in this world (literally the world), but maybe the pandemic was the finger on the pin of the grenade of recognizing racism. We’re all at home with little to distract us (professional sports, vacations, etc.) and maybe that sparked a realization that hey, maybe Black people have a point about this racism thing.

Not that there hasn’t been push back. Amid protesting police brutality, cops all over the US proved the protestors’ points by inflicting more brutality. Natch! And if the people on Facebook and Twitter crying reverse racism, the people losing their jobs for their racist actions, and the razzle dazzle of the All Lives Matter crew are any indication, there are many people unhappy about the direction that this country is (finally) going in. Seems like ALL LIVES don’t matter and equality is not really a goal for a vocal few (I hope it’s a few).

Okay, okay, what does all this have to do with writing?

How does one write a novel when the world is in flames? How do you focus on the world you’re building when the world you live in is falling apart? My answer to that is, Black writers (artists, creators) have always created with the specter of racism looming behind them (in front of and on top of them).

So we just keep keeping on, hoping that our art will be a respite in the midst of the storm du jour.

I write mainly to entertain (but if you learn something new, then awesome), but I also write because I think we need books with Black characters that run the gamut of fantastical creatures (hello Black vamps, witches, demons, and other magical beings). And I’m not alone in that belief. Black characters (in any genre) also serve as windows for non-Black readers as well as mirrors for Black readers.

So, while the world is burning I’ll be resisting in my own way by writing the stories I want to see myself in, stories where women who look like me, my friends, family, and the woman in the picture above are the heroes, stories where we save the day and ourselves. Yes, I’ll be in my office, burning up my keyboard.