Beautiful Americans

atb4x6clearHm. Given his fussiness about flag integrity, I wonder if my design here is enough for the Mango Mussolini to want to strip me of citizenship or throw me in jail. I guess we’ll see!

What with the post-election surge of asshats deciding that the country now belongs only to cishet white Christians without disabilities, I felt a statement to the contrary was in order. I also wanted something less ambiguous than the safety pin, and something less likely to be co-opted by obnoxious trolls.

More to the point, I also wanted something that could be used by businesses, teachers, healthcare and emergency workers, and others who want to quickly express that they’re supportive and welcoming. My own community has used the rainbow flag for this purpose, with some great results, but of course it’s not just queer folks in the sights of the incoming administration (not that it ever has been.) Each group has its own specific issues that need attention, from Black Lives Matter to Standing Rock, but it’s also important, I feel, for marginalized people to come together, because we’re all under attack, now.

To that end, I made this. Stripes in 13 different skin colors and symbols of 50 different religious and cultural identities. It’s not exhaustive on either measure, though I did try to get as many things in as possible. This image is up on a bunch of stuff at Café Press, and Zazzle and there are currently six variants on the design: The “America the Beautiful” image above, one that says “All Are Welcome,” and one that’s just the flag on its own. All of these come with either a clear or brown background, like so:


As with the safety pin, this doesn’t exist in isolation. One can’t just wear this on a button or T-shirt and assume that’s the beginning and end of a commitment to supporting marginalized people. It’s still important to back up your statements with action whenever possible: We all have privilege in some area or other. Use what you have to stand up for the people who are disadvantaged that way: If you’re white, tell other white people that Black Lives Matter. If you’re straight, challenge your homophobic friends and relatives. It’s hard sometimes when you’re struggling to lend a hand to someone else, but that’s how we do this. This is how we all survive.

Lastly, while this isn’t a specific charity project, I am donating a portion of profits from this to various justice orgs. I’ve already dropped about $500 on 14 different groups, such as the ACLU, SPLC, Planned Parenthood, etc., and hope this helps me do more. I’m not looking to make bank on this in any case. I’ve set up a non-commercial Creative Commons license, so feel free to download the digital versions and paste them wherever you will, as long as it’s not for profit. Contact me for any other uses.

This flag represents the country I believe in. If that makes me unpatriotic according to Trump, so be it.

Creative Commons License
Diversity Flag by Shawna Walls is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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Contested Popularity

In an effort to stave off what is most likely an inevitable slide into national chaos, Jill Stein, doing something useful for the first time all year, has raised funds to call for recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. The combined total of votes that gave Trump these three states–all of which showed comfortable Clinton leads in the polls–was around 100,000. There are some rumors of monkeying around with tallying, too, but the recount, at least, seems like a solid idea with it being so close. May as well dot those i’s.

The recount is being driven in part by the fact that Clinton has a two million vote lead on Trump in the overall popular vote, which makes it seem hinky that he somehow managed something more than just a bare majority in the electoral college. That he has more than three hundred electoral votes is a quirk of population distribution and our weird 50-little-countries system, not the will of the people.

It’s the population distribution part of this I want to look at today, however. While I reserve a scintilla of hope that recounts and/or audits may flip the results, or that the members of the electoral college may decide to dump him anyway, chances are good that this is what we’re stuck with. Scary on its own, but what’s even scarier is that we’re looking at having the exact same problem in 2020. Continue reading

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Enemy Ours

As the parent of a very curious and physically rambunctious three year old, I’m looking at my favorite entertainment in a new way these days. It’s kind of disturbing how much of the stuff I like has a crapload of combat in it–including combat using realistic-looking or even actually real firearms. I keep the kid away from all of this, of course, but I am a giant nerd, and he knows who superheroes are and why I like Rey, Finn and Poe, and why I play video games and have decorative swords hanging on my wall. I don’t let him watch anything with “fighting” in it, but he’s peripherally aware.

As a grown up, of course I understand the fantasy/reality thing and can understand moral complexity. As an SFF writer, I have to think about violent things like war, murder, combat, deadly super powers, etc. But I also have lately found myself getting deeper into questions of how pop culture portrays good guys vs. bad guys, and it’s made some of the stuff I like a bit harder to watch.  Continue reading

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Corporate Responsibility 2.0

Was just noting some folks all happy about how a recent commercial for Secret deodorant features a Trans woman, and it got me to thinking.

This is probably a ridiculous thing for a damned-near-socialist progressive to say, but: In the current political climate, we just may have our asses saved by corporations.

I’m not kidding. It took them a long time to get around to it, but with leading examples from the tech industry, among others, a lot of big companies, especially those that do a lot of international business, are now actively supportive of diversity, both in hiring and in advertising/customer relations/etc. They’re finding it’s good for business or at least doesn’t do them any harm to have diverse casts in their commercials, openly support employees with same-gender spouses or who transition while on the job, etc. They get blowback, sure, but it never really affects the bottom line all that much. Continue reading

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The Purple Lie

15110436_1000933210030046_8184642100537379557_oAnother election year, another purple map. Breakdowns like this also came out four years ago (and I believe in 2008, too.) They’re intended to be comforting, but they’re also somewhat misleading.
To help explain why, let me also talk about the other thing that’s going around: The idea that “Only ~25% of people voted for Trump.” OK, sure. That’s technically true.
But what’s also true is that only ~25% of people voted for Hillary–the one and only person who truly stood between him and the White House. That leaves 50% of the country that would probably insist all day that they’re not bigots, but they simply had other reasons why they didn’t bother to try to stop one of the worst in recent history from having enormous power.
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I’ve gone through a lot of feelings in the last 24 hours, much of which I’ve dumped all over Twitter and FB, among other places. I’m feeling the same as a lot of others do, going by the other posts I see: Shock, anger, disbelief. And fear. Lots of it. For ourselves and for the others who are now in danger. We are also, to my great comfort, extending a lot of caring and support, particularly for those who need it most right now. I sent my kid off to his (majority-PoC and immigrant-heavy) pre-school this morning with a note that some of his classmates may be feeling sad or scared today, and asking him to be extra kind and gentle with them, and I’m thinking about other ways I might be able to put some of my privileges to work.

But something else is bubbling up in me today, though it seems like an odd feeling to have under the circumstances: passion. Continue reading

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Character flaws

I’m planning to see Doctor Strange tomorrow, and am looking forward to it, as I do for all of the MCU stuff. There are, however, some problematic aspects of it (as there are with pretty much anything that gets mainstream distribution), particularly in the casting of Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One, the story’s mystical leader. In the original comics, this character was a cringeworthy Asian stereotype, but because of the lack of Asian representation in big-screen movies, particularly the MCU itself, casting a white woman in that role was still an unfortunate choice because of whitewashing. The film’s director, Scott Derrickson, has addressed this issue, explaining how he made that decision and what he tried to do to make up for it. While it’s not for me to decide whether he made the right choice–I’m white; I don’t get a say in whether something is racist–as a writer, I do understand that choices like those aren’t easy. Continue reading

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