I live in a world that is, by design, comfortable for me. I don’t come from wealth, but I have never worried about whether my basic needs—nor even most of what I want—would be met. I was raised in a kind and loving family. The American education system (public school, private liberal arts college, graduate school at a prestigious university) was a good fit for me. I am a White cisgender woman who came of age in the 80s and therefore have benefited from the feminist movement that made it much easier to be a White woman in our country. I am in a monogamous marriage with a cisgender man, so I have all the benefits of passing as heterosexual, even though that label doesn’t accurately describe my relationship history nor my self-image. I am in good health—physically, emotionally, mentally—and have access to resources to help me stay that way. I am comfortable, and with that comfort comes safety.
My comfort and safety grant me a lot of choice. Choice about whether to step out of my comfort zone. Choice about where to risk my safety, as my safety is assumed. Choice about whether to even think about others’ comfort and safety. I am allowed these choices by virtue of my life situation. And I feel obligated, by virtue of my Unitarian Universalist faith, to make considered and informed choices that expand my worldview; that increase my sensitivity to others’ needs; that decrease others’ oppression and discrimination; and that cultivate world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.
A choice I’ve been making recently is in the books I’m selecting to read for fun. Of course it’s important to read all those anti-racist non-fiction books that are now topping bestseller lists. But it’s equally important to seek out authors and lead characters in fiction who are BIPOC, transgender, or otherwise representative of those who are not typically represented in dominant culture.
In recent years I’ve enjoyed reading novels by N.K. Jemisin and Angie Thomas and Tomi Adeyemi and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. In recent weeks I’ve read several novels that have exposed me to even more experiences and perspectives. Their authors and/or protagonists are genderqueer and/or immigrants from countries in Asia and/or Jewish. They are stories about love and coming of age and class and race and fitting in. And all of them are just fun.
Here are my five most recent for-fun reads:
- Something to Talk About, by Meryl Wilsner
- Girl Gone Viral, by Alisha Rai
- Parachutes, by Kelly Yang
- This is Kind of an Epic Love Story, by Kheryn/Kacen Callender
- Frankly in Love, by David Yoon
Meanwhile, I am overwhelmed by how many Big Things are unfolding in our community, country, and world right now. Any one of them would be an appropriate topic for this space or a Sunday worship service. And it feels refreshing that it’s not all Bad Things, and that we actually have some things to celebrate, even when those celebrations subtly (or not so subtly) remind us how much oppression and injustice still exist among us.
We observed Loving Day last week, celebrating the anniversary of the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruling that invalidated all anti-miscegenation laws that remained U.S. states. On Friday, June 19, we celebrate Juneteenth, marking the day in 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, and announced that the Civil War had ended and enslaved persons were now free (two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation). This month we celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride (and I do hope you’ll plan to attend our truly celebratory Pride worship service on Sunday morning, June 21, at 10am). This week we’ve learned of rulings from SCOTUS that protect rights of LGBTQ+ folx from employment discrimination and that protect the rights of undocumented immigrants who are served by DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). And daily I celebrate the news stories of young people who are leading in the fight to undermine white supremacy culture and patriarchy—leading in Howard County, leading in our nation, leading around the world.
I celebrate. Hope-fully.
In Community (C #4),