Monday, September 21, 2020

Justice Department Identifies Ten Amazon Staff Accepting Bribes, Writing Fake Negative Reviews, Targeting Products for Take Downs

When the malicious targeting of my books stopped suddenly, I thought someone must have finally caught the Amazon insiders responsible, and someone had, the Justice Department. A grand jury in Washington indicted six of those involved in a $100M fraud scheme, involving at least 10 Amazon staff who were being bribed. In exchange for bribes, corrupted Amazon staff facilitated attacks against competitors of those paying the bribes, using their inside access to Amazon's network to suspend competitors' accounts and product listings, remove favorable reviews and commentary, write fictitious negative product reviews designed to hurt sales, post spurious comments to intimidate victims and drive away customers, and much more.

Department of Justice U.S. Attorney's Office Western District of Washington issued a press release on September 18, 2020 naming the individuals who had been indicted. EPHRAIM ROSENBERG, 45, of Brooklyn, New York; JOSEPH NILSEN, 31, and KRISTEN LECCESE, 32, of New York, New York; HADIS NUHANOVIC, 30, of Acworth, Georgia; ROHIT KADIMISETTY, 27, of Northridge, California; and NISHAD KUNJU, 31, of Hyderabad, India, who are charged with conspiracy to use a communication facility to commit commercial bribery, conspiracy to access a protected computer without authorization, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and wire fraud.

The names of the Amazon employees being bribed haven't been released yet. The defendants will make their initial appearances in U.S. District Court in Seattle on October 15, 2020. The case is being investigated by the FBI, the IRS-Criminal Investigations, and the Department of Justice Office of International Affairs. The Grand Jury Charges are detailed in a 38-page indictment:

https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdwa/press-release/file/1317986/download

Being on the receiving end of these self-styled "takedowns" for two decades, I recognized every tactic outlined by the prosecution in the charging document. These are the very tactics my competitors had been using to target my books on Amazon with the assistance of Amazon insiders, and as I've been blogging about just as long. My posts about the same are here:

Speaking Out About Ugliness in the Publishing Industry

http://readindies.blogspot.com/2014/09/speaking-out-robert-stanek.html

Unethical Competitors

http://readindies.blogspot.com/2013/01/unethical-competitors.html

Authors who Trash Competitors

http://readindies.blogspot.com/2013/03/authors-who-trash-competitors.html

Authors who are Trolls

http://readindies.blogspot.com/2013/09/authors-who-are-trolls.html

Speaking out About Haters

http://readindies.blogspot.com/2013/06/haters.html

The Internet Isn't the New West

http://www.williamrstanek.com/internet-new-west.htm

My original blog at RobertStanek.com has posts about the same that go back to 2003:

http://www.robertstanek.com/rsblog1.htm

http://www.robertstanek.com/rsblog2.htm

http://www.robertstanek.com/rsblog3.htm

For years now, my every complaint about the targeting of my books was answered with retaliation, whether I wrote Amazon support or the Amazon executive team, and I finally have the definitive answer as to why. 

Despite these indictments Amazon is and remains the most corrupt marketplace on Earth, and this corruption goes from the bottom to the very top of the company, as evidenced by what has happened to my books for the past twenty years whenever I filed official complaints. Hundreds of billions of dollars of commerce flow through Amazon every year, and I'm certain many more former and current Amazon staff will be identified as part of similar schemes.

Thanks for reading, I’m William Robert Stanek, Microsoft’s #1 author for nearly 20 years, and author of over 250 topselling books.












Saturday, September 12, 2020

Connecting with My Friend Walter Dean Myers, Talking Dysfunction & Diversity in America

The first time I met, Walter, aka Walter Dean Myers, we connected, and this led to an odd friendship of a sorts. The thing that bonded us was our similar childhoods, though decades apart. Walter was born in August 1937, my mamma was born in April 1937. Walter lost his mother when he was 2, and my mamma and her sister Dolores lost their daddy even earlier. Walter was given to Florence and Herbert Dean after his mother’s death, my mother, her sister and her mamma moved in with their gramma who raised them for the next few years until their mamma married again.

Walter saw me and knew who I was the moment he laid eyes upon me, never asked why I had a copy of Hoops in my hand. He just understood. As a child, I grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood in Racine, Wisconsin, which I write about here. It was rough and tumble, which I also write about, and that was something Walter understood too as he and I both had to use our fists to defend ourselves at an early age.

His family became dysfunctional with alcohol and grief when his uncle was killed, mine when my step-father and sister died because of an explosion. The library and its books became my refuge, as books were a refuge and a solace for Walter.

Reading pushed us both to discover new worlds. For me, the classics. Treasure Island. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Robinson Crusoe. The Time Machine. The Invisible Man. Journey to the Center of the Earth. The Last of the Mohicans. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Around the World in Eighty Days. A Christmas Carol. Frankenstein. Dracula. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The Lost World. And on and on.

Though never an apt pupil, Walter wrote well in high school and his English teacher recognized this, encouraging him to never stop writing no matter what happened to him. My English teacher in the 4th grade recognized my writing skill and encouraged me to write for and edit the school newspaper, as did my Uncle Wally and both of whom told me to never stop writing, never stop challenging myself.


Walter dropped out of high school and joined the army at 17. I joined the air force at 17 after finishing high school because I was homeless and had no other options.

Walter was one of the most prolific writers, with more than 110 books to his credit, and is the recipient of a lifetime achievement award in writing for young adults, as well as many other awards. I also became one of the most prolific writers, with more than 250 books to my credit and counting, and have been nominated several times for lifetime achievement awards in writing.

After Walter passed away in 2014, I blogged about one of his last essays decrying a lack of diversity in writing, saying that diversity existed in writing it just wasn’t always plain to see. Diversity in my books has led to controversy. I haven’t let controversy change my views or my writing, nor have I kowtowed to White publishing, nor to the conscientious objectors who worship at the altar of George RR Martin and abhor veterans.

How odd that even after decades and decades, books must still be thought of as white or black, or for whites or for blacks. It was, after all, an interracial award for children’s books that put my friend Walter Dean Myers in the spotlight in 1969. I’ve written much about division lately in my social justice essays. We humans excel at putting up fences, we just don’t know how to take them down.

This is Not the Time to Stand By and Not Say Anything - We all see the world as we want to see it and we don't always see what's right in front of our eyes.

No ‘Johnny Come Lately’ – These Systemic Problems are Ours to Solve & Resolve - I’m not speaking out ‘just now’ or because it’s convenient, I’ve been speaking out my whole life.

Denying the Brutal History of Asians in Our America is theHeight of Ignorance and Stupidity -Outraged after reading an anti-Asian article today in the national press.

It's Not About White vs Black, Cop vs Non-Cop - When Dr. Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, said on Good Morning America June 3, 2020, 'Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter,' she stunned Robin Roberts.

Peace Officers, Community Counselors & Police Refocusing Needed - The police forces in our country have tried to do too much. Police try to be mental health counselors, drug and alcohol counselors, marriage counselors, victim’s advocates. They try to...

Hearing and Really Listening. Ending injustice meanslistening to all people. - One of the most powerful black voices I heard, listened to and shared about on Blackout Tuesday was that of Ben O’Keefe, former senior aide to Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Racism in America. Poverty in America. Working-Class America - Many who read my posts may judge me as a privileged, white male. You don’t know me. I was born and raised in the metro area between Milwaukee and Chicago.

End Injustice in America. Injustice Affects All - Outraged this morning as yet again peaceful protests are marred by those conducting violence for the sake of violence. Police departments, first responders and private businesses are not the enemy. Silence is the enemy.

Thanks for reading, I’m William Robert Stanek, Microsoft’s #1 author for nearly 20 years, and author of over 250 topselling books.


Sunday, August 16, 2020

Celebrating Wallace Stegner, My Forefather, the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award Winner

Uncle Wallace, as I knew Wallace Stegner, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972, the National Book Award in 1977, but on an ethical basis refused a National Medal from the NEA in 1988. My forefather was like that, always working against the grain, and in that we share common ground. Looking back, in fact, it’s remarkable how much common ground we share in our decades-long careers as writers and in our everyday lives.

Wallace Stegner was a tall man both in stature and legend. I have the tall part down pat. Like my wife of 31 years, his wife of 52 years, Mary, was short, rising only to his shoulder, and as instrumental to his work as the air he breathed. Uncle Wallace was an adopted son of Utah, as I am of Wisconsin. Our home states are where we grew up and what we think of as home even though as adults we chose to live elsewhere. I split my time between Washington and Hawaii when I can, just as Uncle Wallace travelled between homes in California and Vermont.

He and I had hard-scrabble childhoods. We were moved about by our parents, to the countryside in our youth. We experienced the worst of poverty, the failings of our parents. We learned early that you didn't complain, that you must keep a stiff upper lip, and that you never abandoned anything you started. He and I fell in love with the West, each in our own way. All of these things influenced our lives and make our writing unique.

Uncle Wallace schooled me regularly against succumbing to the trend du jour of headquarters, aka the American publishing houses in the east. I was to write whatever the hell I wanted, theme du jour be damned. Writing our way came with a heavy cost; we paid heavy penalties for being out of step with the literary establishment. He was impatient with my early writing, always wanting it to be more staid and literary. Once he understood that I saw writing as a challenge to the soundness of my character, as he did, he embraced it heartily. Although my work was eventually published and/or distributed by nearly every major American publisher, I still did it my way and bent the publishing world to my will just as he did—and when headquarters wouldn’t bend enough I went independent just as Uncle Wallace told me I should do when it was time.

Credited as the co-creator of the modern creative writing industry, having taught writing first at Iowa, Harvard and Wisconsin, and then at Stanford, where he built the prestigious program, Uncle Wallace blazed trails by teaching young people to write literature. As a respected and skilled teacher myself, I gave instruction on new technologies and am credited with transforming the computer writing industry with my plain language style. A style that Microsoft eventually adopted for its own, having been unable to bend me to its will to write in Microsoftese, that unknowable language only Microsoft itself truly ever understood. Millions of training courses taught by Microsoft and others used my words as their foundations.

Uncle Wallace wrote short stories, fiction and nonfiction. His more than 30 full-length works include 13 novels, with the Pulitzer Prize winning “Angle of Repose” and the National Book Award winning “The Spectator Bird” being among his best known works. His eight works of nonfiction include an autobiography, a biography and a book on teaching creative writing. Wallace Stegner believed steadfastly in the American West and in later years in its preservation, which he wrote about in essays and several collections. Thanks to his words and encouragement, conservation and the environment are constant themes in my own work as well and especially in my Bugville Critters books.

Most of Uncle Wallace’s correspondence from his long, storied writing career, both personal and professional, was kept and curated by his wife, Mary, and is now shared by the Special Collections Library at the University of Utah. But I know personally that the collection doesn’t contain all of his correspondence. Uncle Wallace threw a long shadow over my life and career. He’s a reason I became an editor and columnist for the school newspaper in the 4th grade and never stopped writing afterward. I wrote to challenge myself and prove my character every day, just as he did. 

He challenged me to succeed on my own, on the merits of my work, and I did. I signed my first contract and broke into publishing on my own in 1995 writing nonfiction, nearly 2 years to the day after Uncle Wallace passed away, having written many original works of fiction that garnered his approval but were as yet unpublished. He told me to never lose the writer’s voice I’d found and encouraged me to always keep challenging myself, to prove my character through my writing, to write more about my life and experiences, and to most especially continue my crusade against the literary establishment. This was at odds with the way his son, Page, wrote. Page was an academic at heart and a historian, who also taught creative writing for many years, but mostly published scholarly works.

My forefather Wallace Stegner told me winning the Pulitzer was impressive but it didn’t really help sell his books or pay his bills, nor did the National Book Award, nor the three O’Henry awards, nor the two Guggenheim fellowships. It wasn’t that he didn’t like fame, hobnobbing with the elite, or his charmed life. He appreciated the accolades bestowed upon him, but it all became a distraction from his writing. His works in his lifetime sold hundreds of thousands of copies, they did not sell millions. Because of this, he often took on projects for the money, which is something he told me not to be afraid to do. The craft of writing is about the writing. Professional writing is work. Professional writers write to pay the bills and pay the bills I did as I wrote for major publishers across several decades.

I never wanted Uncle Wallace’s academic career, awards or social calendar. Sure I’ve taught in colleges, hobnobbed with royalty, met and dined with presidents and generals, been paid thousands to speak to captains of industry, but I’ve always preferred the simple life, regular folk and the quiet comfort that comes from routine. The simple routine of putting words to paper is my routine, and that’s something Uncle Wallace would have appreciated as he always wanted to do more writing and less hobnobbing.

The name Wallace Stegner never became a household name in his lifetime. Nor has he become a literary celebrity, despite three biographies written about his life and career. He is thought of as a great but uncelebrated writer. He was okay with that and with what he’d achieved, just as I am okay with what I’ve achieved. Over the past 35 years, I’ve written hundreds of original works and they’ve been translated into 57 languages and counting. I’ll take millions of copies sold over fame and celebrity any day.

Traveling in France some years ago, I couldn’t help but smile and remember Uncle Wallace when a Parisian acquaintance told me that the American west was all cowboys riding the range and how the cowboy hat and boots he was wearing were just like the ones the real American cowboys wore. Uncle Wallace would have understood the irony in that statement because he rejected these superficial aspects of Western mythos, telling me more than once that the idea of the cowboy alone on the range was completely false. The West wasn’t about rugged, self-reliant individuals, it was about people coming together and cooperating to accomplish much more than they could alone.

Thanks for reading, I’m William Robert Stanek, Microsoft’s #1 author for nearly 20 years, and author of over 250 topselling books.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Stand in Solidarity, Raise Your Voices Not Your Fists for Our America

Regardless of whether you are for or against the demonstrations happening across our America, it's time to listen to the voices of the protestors. "People are out here for multiple reasons in addition to sending a message about Black Lives Matter. It's about making sure that we have protected our right to protest and engage in free speech... It’s about [many other things as well]…" Portland demonstrator, via The Guardian. Federal troops should not be used indiscriminately against our citizens and certainly not with snatch and grab arrests.

Police brutality and injustice affects every race, creed and ideology, but there aren’t many good resources available to track this and this is on purpose because our government does not want us to know. However, one resource that tracked deaths in police custody from 2003 - 2009 found 4,813 persons had died during or shortly after law enforcement personnel attempted to arrest or restrain them. With "homicides by state and local law enforcement officers being the leading cause of such deaths," accounting for 2,931 (60.9%) of such deaths. Of reported persons who died during the process of arrest, they represented all people. 95 percent were male; 5 percent were female. About 42 percent were white; about 32 percent were black; about 20 percent were Latino; about 6 percent were Asian or other.

Ready answers for the change our America needs are already out there. CAHOOTS is one of them and it provides an excellent model for the future of policing in America. First implemented in Eugene Oregon, where I lived years ago, CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets), is a program that reroutes 911 and non-emergency calls relating to mental health, substance use or homelessness to a team of medics and crisis-care workers. These special teams respond to such calls instead of, and not alongside, police. This highly successful program has been in place for OVER THIRTY YEARS. In Eugene, CAHOOTS handles approximately 24,000 calls a year, which is about 17% of all police calls and has proven over and over and over that it is a boon to police, not a detriment. CAHOOTS does this by allowing police to focus on combatting crime and allowing community programs to handle mental health, substance use and homelessness issues.

Programs modeled after CAHOOTS have been successfully implemented in Olympia, Washington where I've lived for that past 25 years, and in Oakland California. New York City wants to implement a similar pilot program for two precincts in which EMTs and crisis counselors would respond to mental-health calls instead of police. But the time for pilot programs and baby steps is past. Our America needs action. Our America needs commitment to change. It’s time to rethink policing. A police response is not the kind of response needed when people are having a mental health, substance use or homeless crisis.

The police in our America have tried to do too much, gone far beyond their area of true expertise, which is fighting crime. Police departments have grown too big and consume too much public funds. Police try to be mental health counselors, drug and alcohol counselors, marriage counselors, victim’s advocates. They try to police schools, enforce traffic laws, ensure public safety and on and on. With all this is there any wonder why there is dysfunction? Why police can’t adequately fight crime in big cities? Why police are failing us?

For those who believe the police are the enemy, I ask you to consider that the police themselves must be part of any solution developed. We need our men and women in blue, but we need them focused on fighting crime. A police force focused on crime might finally be able to succeed. It’s a warzone in many cities across our America. In 2019, nearly 15,000 people were the victim of homicide or accidental shooting. There also were 409 mass shootings and 30 mass murders.

For police who believe we, the people, are the enemy, I ask you to consider that criminals commit crime, demonstration in itself is not crime, speaking up is not crime, asking for and expecting sincere change is not crime. Police should be stepping up and helping us bring about change, not beating we, the people, down with batons and tear gas. I ask you to consider how you would act if your mother, father, sister, brother, or children were out there demonstrating. Would you beat them down? Would you tear gas them? Would you betray their right to demonstration?

For those destroying our America as part of protest, I see your pain, I hear your anger, I understand, but I ask you to consider tomorrow. Your tomorrow, our tomorrow. The tomorrow of your brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. The tomorrow of your children and their children. Our words and our unity through these challenging times can do so much more than our anger, than our outrage. Develop a message, develop your message. Raise your voice, not your fists. Win hearts and minds by telling us with your words and your unity what you think and what you feel. Help us fight for change and justice by telling us about the change you want to see and representing this change. Help us define our tomorrow for our America.

For the moms and the veterans out there on the frontlines helping to defend our right to demonstrate, our right to free speech, I say thank you. I am with you in spirit, if not in self. We are America, we are democracy. Totalitarianism has no place in our America.

Thanks for reading, I’m William Robert Stanek, Microsoft’s #1 author for nearly 20 years, and author of over 250 topselling books.


Thursday, July 2, 2020

Denying the Brutal History of Asians in Our America is the Height of Ignorance and Stupidity

Outraged after reading an anti-Asian article today in the national press, printed under the guise of the Black Lives Matter movement. Anyone reading my past articles knows I absolutely support Black Lives Matter, and have since 2015. If you’ve read my articles you also know that a common theme in my social justice posts is that we as a society need to stop building fences, to stop letting things divide us unnecessarily. We will never end the destructive cycles in which we find ourselves if we do not hear and listen to those around us. Nothing will change if we keep pointing fingers and blaming others.

Asian pain does not lessen black pain, nor does Latino pain or Native American pain. When you publish an article in the national press claiming Asians stood on the necks and backs of blacks, climbed the ladder of success while stepping on the hands of blacks, you are showing not only your ignorance but your lack of humanity and compassion. It does not matter the race, creed or ideology of the author—racism is racism. Worse is when the racism is wrapped up and given to us by a Race & Gender columnist in an article entitled “Dear Brown People: I’m About to Wash Some Dirty Linen in Public. Consider This An Overdue Act of Tough Love” by the Toronto Star. The author of the article may be brown, from India, but she has no clue whatsoever what Asians have endured in the USA and Canada—and it shows in the endless parade of stupidity and ignorance throughout the article.

The history of Asians in Canada is similar to Asians in the USA. In the USA, Asians first came to America in the late 1830s, as cheap laborers in the fields of Hawaii, then increasingly as cheap laborers for gold mines, factories and railroads. According to the 1880 census, in California alone there were over 100,000 Chinese.

From the beginning, anti-Asian hostility was widespread and rampant throughout the USA and Canada. Asians were treated like animals. Lynchings were common, as were large-scale attacks and outright massacres, such as the Rock Springs massacre of 1885 where white miners killed nearly 30 Chinese immigrants, having accused them of stealing their jobs, and the Snake River Oregon massacre of 1887 where whites massacred 34 Chinese gold miners.

Anti-Asian hostility grew and grew until the USA and Canada boiled over in explosive riots, including the Pacific Coast riots of 1907 which spread from San Francisco California to Bellingham Washington to Vancouver Canada. The list of injustices and brutalities against Asians in the USA and Canada goes on and on and on from there, and includes the involuntarily internment in "camps" of Japanese Americans from 1942 to 1946. The first internment camp operated in southern California. Nine others were established between 1942 and 1945, holding approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans in California, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Arkansas and Arizona.

The fight for civil rights for Asians and other non-white immigrants began in the late 1800s due to countless laws that were passed to bar and ban the immigration of Asians to the USA and Canada. In the USA, these laws include the Page Act of 1875, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the Geary Act of 1892, the Asiatic Barred Zone Act of 1917, the Immigration Act of 1924, and the Tydings-McDuffle Act of 1934.

The fight for civil rights for Asians and other non-white immigrants continued through the early and mid 1900s. In the USA, it was not until 1943 that limited success for civil rights for non-white immigrants was achieved, with the Magnuson Act which ended total Chinese exclusion, with an allowance of 105 persons to immigrate a year, but still did not allow Chinese to own property. In 1946, the Luce-Cellar act allowed Filipino and Indian nationals to become naturalized citizens and own property. It was not until 1952 that this success was expanded, with the McCarran-Waller Act where Asians and other non-white immigrants were allowed to become naturalized citizens, but still maintained the quota system which extremely limited Asian immigration. These successes occurred decades before the broader civil rights movements of the 1960s.

To say Asians and other non-white immigrants owe everything to the civil rights movement of the 1960s is to show your stupidity and ignorance of the history of the USA and Canada. Yes, the enactment of the 1965 Immigration Act ended many of the exclusions of the 1924 Immigration Act and earlier acts. However, the 1965 Immigration Act would not have been possible without the landmark acts that proceeded it over the course of several decades and due to the tireless fight for equality and civil rights by Asians and other non-white immigrants. These were not separate paths. One could not and would not have occurred without the other.

Anti-Asian racism, discrimination and hatred continues to this day. Denying the brutal 190-year history of Asian Americans, and the equally brutal 170-year history of Asian Canadians, in our America is the height of stupidity and ignorance. Shame on the Toronto Star and its journalist, Shree Paradkar.

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Thanks for reading, I’m William Robert Stanek, Microsoft’s #1 author for nearly 20 years, and author of over 250 topselling books. Be the positive change you want to see. Speak up, make sure you are heard. Everything is possible.

For the record, I am, of course, married to an Asian American and my children are Asian American. My Asian family extends through generations.

Monday, June 22, 2020

It's Not About White vs Black, Cop vs Non-Cop, It's About Inhumanity vs Humanity. It's About Justice in America

When Dr. Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, said on Good Morning America June 3, 2020, "Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter," she stunned Robin Roberts. But Dr. King knows something that we all should. We give words power by raging against them. We take back the power by embracing them, by not letting them divide us, by not allowing them to make us lose our focus. This fight of our lifetime is not about white vs black, cop vs non-cop. It's about inhumanity vs humanity. It's about justice in America. Do we want less death for all? Do we want to achieve justice for all? Do we want an end to the cycles of crime, poverty, violence, addiction, discrimination and racism that afflict our America?

Your view may not be my view, but that does not make it a wrong view. Brutality. Force. Injustice. Discrimination. Inequality. Poverty. Racism. Inhumanity. These are our enemies. Our reasons for wanting these things to end do not have to be 100% one way or another. Our reasons for wanting these things to end do not have to be unless and until it is your way or my way.

Why do we let these things divide us? Why do we waste energy railing one against the other? Embrace the words. Take back the power. Focus on what matters. Focus on the issues of brutality, force, injustice, discrimination, inequality, poverty, racism and inhumanity in our America.

We have learned nothing, done nothing, far too long in this country. We’ve put up fences. We’ve closed ourselves off. We’ve made rules, divisions, but we’ve created no solutions. We’ve solved and resolved nothing. If we want to end destructive cycles, we must not only hear those around us when they speak but we must listen.

Communities, and especially black communities, across America say we want less violence, less brutality, less force, less injustice, less discrimination, less poverty, more support, more understanding, more equality, more humanity. Someone saying ‘Blue Lives Matter’ only lessens cries of ‘Black Lives Matter’ if we let it, if we give these words the power. Someone saying ‘All Lives Matter’ only lessens cries of ‘Black Lives Matter’ if we let it, if we give these words the power.  Take back the power by embracing the words, not letting them divide us, not allowing them to make us lose our focus.

‘Black Lives Matter’ says listen and hear us. ‘Blue Lives Matter’ says listen and hear us. ‘All Lives Matter’ says listen and hear us. Let’s listen and hear, let’s reach across and embrace. Let’s not give these words power over us. Let's find common ground. Conventional ideas and conventional solutions have failed us. It’s time for radical ideas and radical solutions.

We cannot solve the issues of brutality, force, injustice, discrimination, inequality, poverty, racism and inhumanity with one great sweep of the brush. We cannot solve the issues of brutality, force, injustice, discrimination, inequality, poverty, racism and inhumanity without inclusivity.

Are there answers to be found by turning the problems around, by viewing the problems in different ways? By viewing them through each other’s eyes? What drives brutality? What drives use of force? Is it fear? Is it anger? Is it hatred? Is it the unremitting cycles of crime, inhumanity and violence? Why are we afraid? Why are police officers afraid? Why are we angry? Why are police officers angry? Why do some hate police? Why do some police hate? Why do the cycles of brutality, inhumanity and violence never end? Why cannot these cycles be broken?

There are many intractable conflicts in this world. These bloody conflicts that drag on and on. The world has grown weary of them and yet they remain. Nothing seems to ever be solved because there have been no successful strategies to resolve them, nor even success in ameliorating them.

Disputes between communities and police involve many issues. Communities around our nation, and especially black communities, see their own dying at the hands of the police. The police see their own dying at the hands of those they are trying to serve and protect. Yet this is not a zero-sum struggle, something that one side must win and the other must lose.

Communities around our nation, and especially black communities, see themselves as victims, surrounded by threats. They are vulnerable, haunted by all the injustice, inhumanity and brutality they have witnessed. They fight for their very existence and may do unacceptable things in the name of fighting for their very existence. Rioting, looting, as examples. There is mistrust. All sides have resorted to other means when diplomacy has failed.

Rare is the time when there is progress, for rare are the ones who are willing to take a first step, let alone a second or third step. There are skeptics who don’t believe resolution is possible. There are blockers who try to ensure negotiation does not lead to unfavorable resolution. There are extremists who seek resolution at the other’s expense. There is hardening of our position to the point we no longer hear. There is transference of our grievances and fears from generation to generation.

We’ve partitioned our society. White America, Black America, Latino America, Asian America, and on and on. We’ve created enemies outside of these partitions. These partitions multiply inequality, injustice and inhumanity; they do not end them. We’ve created different value systems for our versions of America. These different value systems only serve to prolong and entrench poverty, racism and discrimination.

Our government has worked to contain and prevent upheaval. Our government has turned a blind eye, not committed itself to resolution. The path toward resolution requires top-down strategic leadership and a progressive opening up of America so that our communities become intertwined, and the path toward resolution requires bottom-up people-to-people diplomacy that persuades our leaders to achieve our goals. Discussion, reciprocal negotiation, resolution require trust. Trust of all sides. Hearing from and listening to all sides. Hardening the position of one side or another will not resolve anything.

To move forward, we must overcome the passions of the moment and the memories of the past. We must embrace the shared threat to our America that should we fail yet again, our republic will fail. We do not want our America to succumb to extremism. Our common ground and shared interest in remaking our America in the image of one and all will ensure our American dream forever. Together we can achieve an inclusive our America.

Thank you Ella for teaching me about community-centered leadership through your words. Black lives matter.

Our America Together. Our Participatory Democracy. Our America Forever.

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Thanks for reading, I’m William Robert Stanek, Microsoft’s #1 author for nearly 20 years, and author of over 250 topselling books.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

No ‘Johnny Come Lately’ – These Systemic Problems are Ours to Solve & Resolve

I’m the author of over 250 books, 150+ professionally published and 100+ small press/indie published. Not only has my nonfiction been published and/or distributed by every major US publisher, it has sold over $200M at retail and been read by millions. Was asked recently if you’re so passionate about #diversity, #equality, #fairness, #justice and all the other things you’re railing against in your essays why have you been silent? Where was your social commentary 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago. Or is this something you decided to speak up about just now? ‘Just now’, my head nearly exploded, ‘Just now?’ My reply: Have you actually read any of my books? Have you actually listened to anything my books have to say? Have you actually listened to anything I’ve been saying?

I’m not speaking out ‘just now’ or because it’s convenient, I’ve been speaking out my whole life. This is a fight of a lifetime that I hope is resolved in my lifetime. The best way to end inequality, racism, discrimination, injustice and all the other things that sicken our world worse than any pandemic is to shine a light on them, to keep shining a light on them even where there seems to be no hope. And so, I have shined a light, I have continued to shine a light even though I knew I may never be heard.

One of my earliest stories, written in the 1980s, is about the demise of native, indigenous and other peoples and the compounded tragedy that their languages are lost with them. The heroine of the story rages against the white majority (referred to as Majority-1), sacrifices her life, her husband, even her children to preserve what little she can of a nearly lost language—and the people the language represents. That story speaks to the futility of this lifetime fight that I recognized even as a young man, and yet the heroine fights. She fights because she cannot rightly do otherwise.

That story has been published in several collections, including Absolutes and Other Stories. The original version of that story ended with the scientific facts about the demise of native, indigenous and other peoples and their languages. The title of the story speaks to yet another factor that compounds the tragedy: Silence. Silence is death. Silence is complicity. That title being: “Silence is Golden.”

Was asked, well told, recently, how come none of my books feature People of Color. My response: Have you actually read any of my books? FACT: Over 120 of my books feature People of Color. Of these, one of my favorites is the Magic Lands series, which includes Journey Beyond the Beyond (Intl as Into the Beyond) and Into the Stone Land (Magic Lands #2), and has been collected in several editions and omnibuses.

Magic Lands is an allegory for our modern world. The main character, Ray, is a POC, who must battle with stigma, racism and the perceptions of those around him as much as the wild elements and incredible dangers of his homeland.

FACT: The critters in over 100 Bugville Critters, Bugville Learning, Bugville Jr books represent the diverse peoples of our world. I wrote the books as bedtime stories for my own children because they weren’t represented in picture books. I wrote the books to show everything I wanted to see in the world and everything I wanted them to see in the world. My wife and children are POC.

Yes, I really was asked by white publishing to remove #Diversity and #POC from my Bugville Critters Buster Bee books. Thus focusing only on the Bee family. Yes, I really did refuse and publish independently.

Yes, I really was asked by white publishing to remove #Diversity and #POC from my Bugville Critters Lass Ladybug books. Thus focusing only on the Ladybug family. Yes, I really did refuse and publish independently.

Yes, I really was told that Lass Ladybug's mother should be married to another ladybug. Thus, not having the perception of interracial marriage. Yes, I really did refuse and publish independently.

I also told white publishing it was not perception at all, it was a point of actual fact. White Mrs. Ladybug was married to a black man, that black man was also Mayor of Bugville. This IR couple had one white child and one IR child. And no, I won’t be changing any of it.








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Thanks for reading, I’m William Robert Stanek, Microsoft’s #1 author for nearly 20 years, and author of over 250 topselling books. In closing, I hope it's clear to you dear reader that this essay isn’t about being black or white in America, or even about being a POC in America. It’s about making the right choices, for the right reasons, and sticking with your convictions.

Years ago I could’ve easily removed POC from my books as white publishing wanted me to, and I could’ve easily cashed the six- and seven-figure checks for the rest of my life because that’s what was offered, but I chose not to. Not only because it was morally wrong and reprehensible to me, but because what would I be saying to my children, to the world, if I did so. I’d rather the few read my work, than my work to represent something I do not believe in.

I understand that I’ll never understand what it is to be black in America. I also know that as a white person in America it’s not only my responsibility to speak out against discrimination, inequality, injustice, intolerance and racism, it is my moral obligation. It is the moral obligation of every white person in America. The system is failing people of color. It’s not their job to fix the system. They can’t. It’s a white system, it’s a white problem, and if us white people don’t fix it, it’ll never get fixed.