I’ve heard this thrown around, repeatedly, at author conferences, in author groups, in general business advice. All of it, with the caveat that doing so will lose you readers. That, if you aren’t political, you’ll be able to make more money, be able to do better, to be more successful.

And I’ll tell you the truth, I accepted that belief. I kept my politics, my beliefs from the public.

Not necessarily from my writing (as much). Anyone who can read subtext and reads my series know how I feel about certain issues. But, none of those issues are front and center of my work. They don’t, weren’t, the focus of the stories I was telling.

But my Facebook Fan Page, my website, my only recently started Twitter account, etc. has been whitewashed.

Don’t Get Political.

And the majority of those, the people who say things like that? They can afford to say it. They sit untouched in their privilege, in their lack of lived experience or ability to empathise.

Because, the truth is, for some of us; every fucking day is political. It’s a reality we don’t get to choose to ignore whether we like it or not. Even if we sometimes get so enured to it, we don’t think about it.

Don’t Get Political

When I was 12, in Malaysia, a bitch who we carpooled with to get us home when my parents couldn’t drive us decided our Chinese names were too Chinese. So we should get good Christian names. And so, she decided to give me one.

Because, you know, that’s what you do.

When I came to Canada, I had a choice to make. Get a ‘Western’ name, make it easier for people to say my name. Make it easier to get a damn interview, even though I knew most people would think I couldn’t speak / write English properly because of my name and my lack of experience in Canada.

I chose not to, and I lost out interviews I’m sure.

When I was deciding to publish my book, I had to decide if I was going to use a pen name or not. Choose a nom de plume, one that generic and white or use my own. Because, again, would my name hurt my brand? Would my race affect my sales?

And if you don’t think it does, check the studies on innocuous things like interview rates and college applications.

Don’t Get Political

And right now, I’m sitting here, watching people bitch about Covid 19, about the riots. About the protests – as if all the protesters, every single one of them was looting and rioting. As if they didn’t have a right to be angry, after years and years of peaceful and not so peaceful protests, and no real changes being made.

When images of bullies in uniform spray mace at children, beat and tear gas non-violent protesters. When George Floyd was killed, in broad daylight, while a first responder begged to be allowed to check on him.

And charges only being laid because protests happened.

But it’s okay…

Don’t Get Political

Because being quiet, being polite, towing the line is what they want us to do. Because, then, all this shit, all these choices we have to make – the indignities, the jokes about our race, about what we eat, how we talk, about being told to GO HOME – all of it can be swept under the rug.

And I’m lucky. I’m a ‘model’ minority. I’ve LITERALLY been called that, been used as an example of how ‘all immigrants should integrate‘. The shit I deal with is miles behind what others – First Nation, blacks, etc. – deal with.

Don’t Get Political

Where the people who tell us to not be political can safely be quiet. And just ignore it.

And let those who aren’t so quiet, so peaceful get away with it.

Don’t Get Political

Yeah, no. Fuck that shit.

Black lives matter.

Learn your history. LOOK around. Empathise.

Or don’t. But I’m done.