Saturday, May 2, 2015

All Cats Are Grey (Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge)

Racism is an opinion, a mind-set. It is not a crime, however misguided we feel it is, and however often we may observe that it leads to criminal actions. 

When we demonize "racism", it is no less counter-productive than demonizing people because of their skin color. Or religion (or lack of it). Or the flag they salute, or the party they vote for.

But the opinion that "my" race/skin color/religion/party/national affiliation is better than "yours" is just an opinion and you know what is said of opinions, right? (They are like anal openings; everyone has one.)

It is human nature to observe skin color along with other characteristics. It is human nature to categorize those we meet into groups according to what we have observed: black people, bicycle riders, dog lovers, police, rednecks, grandmothers. And racists.

This week's Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge challenges us to find a way past this automatic classification, one that allows us to be human, but doesn't require us to condemn someone we have never truly met, just because we observe that they fall into a particular group.

April 29, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that tackles racism. Think about common ground, about the things that rip us apart as humans. How we can recover our identities in a way that honors the identities of all individuals? What breaks the barrier of other-ness? Imagine a better tomorrow that doesn’t need expression in riots or taking sides on social media. As writers, think about genres, characters, tension and twists. We can rebuild.

I believe the answer may be both difficult and simple: Observe, but don't judge. Or perhaps, judge, but don't convict. Wait until you have more than just the split-second evidence of your eyes.

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All Cats Are Grey


Hearing twigs snap behind him, Henry leaned forward to feed his campfire—more warmth, but it still barely lit his fingers.

"Join me?" he called. "I have coffee."

Three bulky shapes loomed out of the darkness. "Thanks, man." The fire-light was insufficient to tell who spoke. "You need more firewood."

Henry laughed. "No, I practice the old way, 'Indian build small fire, huddle close, stay warm; White Man build big fire, stay warm chopping wood.'"

Silence from the other side of the fire, until a sap pocket flared up to gleam from three deep-brown faces and his own white one.