Scott's note: Angel Colon returns to Do Some Damage today to guest blog, but he does not come to talk about his just published book of short stories, Meat City on Fire (and Other Assorted Debacles). This book collects a number of the stories Angel has published the last few years in different venues, and it provides a good way to get acquainted with his writing, if you don't know it already. Angel is unpredictable in his stories, and in this collection there is a lot of variety, different tones, different voices. And if you have read his stories before, or heard him read at Noirs at the Bar, well, here's a nice way to have a bunch of his shorter stuff all in one volume. I mention the book in this space even if he doesn't. And I'll add that you can find the collection here.
But as I say, Angel isn't guest blogging specifically to talk about his new collection. With everything going on, Angel is hear to address the state of affairs of certain things as he sees them, and as we would only expect from him, he does not hold back:
Without further delay...
So What the Hell Comes Next, Fellas?
by Angel Colon
by Angel Colon
Don’t think I need to run down the stories we’re hearing lately regarding sexual assault. We’re all hip to this bullshit and we’re all hip to the fact that a lot of houses need cleaning. Renee Pickup summarized this on DSD a week or two ago (CLICK) and I think she laid it out better than I can (it’s not my place to either).
First, though, I think it’s important to restate how little authority I have here when it comes to the recent stories women have shared. I’m not speaking for any of the abused because, frankly, my privilege has left me unscarred. What I can share is what I think men like me should do in order to provide a message of support and to move things in the right direction as allies.
I’m also very aware there are tons of people who are working their asses off to address and work through these issues (some for decades). I’m in no way belittling that work. And fellow men, if this all makes you flush red in the face and makes you feel defensive, well…shit dude, you might have some real reflecting to do. I probably have a metric ton of reflecting to do myself.
So what comes next?
I don’t think that any of us can affect massive change alone, that’s obvious, but I do think small, incremental steps with concrete results—actual value add, to steal a term from my corporate self—is a path that many if not all of us can follow.
So what exactly do I mean? Well, for one, how about you take an hour a day and research new writers from underrepresented communities in our genre (especially women)? Sisters in Crime has a pretty extensive list on their site HERE. Go check that out. Grab an anthology or book from an author that sounds interesting. Maybe give a few clicks to their websites—share a blog entry or two. Small steps. Incremental change. Those small changes can become the norm easier than you think.
And I’ll elaborate for fear of coming off “angry” or self-righteous (*smirk*): big change is always fought against the hardest. Big change has brought us to where we are with constant bickering and cowards shrieking about their rights too. It’s silly and it’s easy to roll our eyes, lecture, and move along. And while there are absolutely things we should flip the bird to—like, always punch Nazis, ALWAYS—I think we do need to take the fragility of those horrified at the thought of more than five successful female writers in a genre into mind. Not because they’re important or they need to be “understood” but because they’re what I’d call a “toxic stakeholder”, the person with a vested interest in no change with just enough pull to ruin it for the majority. That sound familiar?
So that covers a broad piece. What about the pieces of shit that are making many of our friends and peers feel unwelcome physically right now? What about the people who are holding onto trauma every single day and who feel that unburdening themselves would only make things worse?
I think it’s time we call the abusers out—and I’m talking again to my fellow male crime writers—and take some of these assholes to task. We’re at a point that we shouldn’t be scared of reprisal anymore. And I’ll admit my own silence hasn’t helped matters either. I’m as much at fault as anyone else in this mess, but ultimately, this piece isn’t for me to feel better, so I’m going to stop there. I’ll only say I’m sorry.
Last bit (and I have it on good authority that this is probably the only part that matters): we need to listen and learn. I think some of us are pretty comfortable with owning conversations and being more active participants in our social situations (I am fully aware of how loud and obnoxious I am, so to anyone nodding all smug-like, let me assure you: I know myself). Stopping and listening doesn’t lessen a soul; if anything, it amplifies the voices that need hearing. That’s good stuff!
So, to those out there directly affected: I believe you and will stand by you. I’ll also work to be mindful of my own bullshit because I’m not perfect and always have more to learn. I think it’s incredibly important for the men in this community to do the same and work towards making the scene better than it’s ever been.
It’s cliché but it is truth: when one of us succeeds, we all succeed. Embracing change and protecting those with unlimited potential should be our default setting. You have any idea how many of these sentences I’ve rewritten?
How can writers NOT embrace change, for fuck’s sake? It’s all we do. And seriously, the writing stuff—maybe there’s a way for me to put my money where my mouth is. More to come.