Recently a popular book blogger announced that they won’t be supporting authors who talk about politics, their children, and other non-book topics. Artists have always shaped the world around us, since the world around us is what shapes our work. Looking back through history, artists have been on the frontline during any great social or political change—either through expression, or through persecution.
The first novel I ever published, Sade on the Wall, was a culmination of years of watching loved ones struggle with addiction and being powerless to save them. I’d recently lost a high school friend to a heroin overdose, a close relative had disappeared to crack addiction, and an ex-boyfriend hurt me physically and emotionally for years while succumbing to alcohol and multiple drug addictions. If I chose to not talk about my personal life or social issues, Sade on the Wall would not exist.
None of my books would exist.
Survivors of rape, sexual assault, and incest know better than anyone else what the price of silence is. Any trauma survivor knows. There’s only so long that you can squash down the things that hurt your soul. Eventually, it either consumes you or you have to free your voice.
You have to speak your truth.
In the past year and a half, I’ve begun speaking my truth. My voice gets louder and louder, and with every step of my journey to healing, I feel more free.
I will never be silent again.
I will continue to talk about my traumas, my autoimmune disease, my cat, and my godkids. And I will continue to talk about the horrible things that Trump and his cabinet are doing to my country and her people.
If we all remained silent, if we all kept the things that are important to us to ourselves, what would the point be in being human? Humanity is about connection; we’ve needed art to explain the world around us since the dawn of time. When we find others who share our experiences, we feel less alone. We are supported. We are able to press on and survive.
Too often we turn the other cheek to suffering. We walk past the homeless veteran begging for change, turn up the volume on our headphones while our neighbor beats his girlfriend, pretend not to hear other classmates make fun of a disabled student. The worst kind of silence is apathy. To refuse to speak out is to enable the suffering, to assist the oppressor. Few spoke against Hitler, and he systemically violated group after group of innocent citizens, altogether murdering millions and millions of people. Hardly anyone spoke against Roosevelt when he rounded up Japanese-Americans, took them from their homes, and put them in camps, violating their American civil rights in a hypocritical attempt to protect Americans.
I understand that many readers use books as an escape hatch. I know I always have. Some people don’t want to think or hear about bad things because they have enough going on in their personal lives. I completely understand needing to insulate yourself and create a safe space.
But I will not be silent for the sake of selling more books.
I’ve always written to make sense of the world around me and my personal life. I created Jett to cope with a family member struggling with alcohol abuse; I couldn’t make my loved one stop drinking, but I could write about Jett’s journey to recovery.
I can’t stop the Trump administration from persecuting Muslims and taking away my healthcare, but I can write about two teenagers fighting white nationalists in their city.
I can’t cure my autoimmune disease or control my pain, but I can write about a queer spoonie and the girl who rescues her from her pain prison.
I love my readers and I appreciate your support, but I will never change who I am for the sake of selling more books. First and foremost, I am an artist. A real person with real worries, struggles, and triumphs. Words are the only weapon I’ve ever had, and with them I speak the truth.