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.
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 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.
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.