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Did you know that I have a newsletter?

Real talk: I’m not the most consistent with my newsletter. This is an area I want to improve especially as I use Facebook less and am enjoying writing blog posts again.

Newsletters are great ways to share exlusive content and updates and random pictures of Bobbie Voltaire The Cat and Plato The Dog.

I mean clearly…Plato The Dog thinks you should subscribe. You can subscribe by clicking here:  eepurl.com/g_Qp4D

I have some audiobook news which I’m very very excited to share with all of you very soon (this week). And my newsletter subscribers willl find out first.

Clearly, that’s a reason to subscribe 🙂

You can subscribe here: eepurl.com/g_Qp4D
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My summer goals

First, Thank you to #ASummerInWriting over on Instagram and Dante Medema as well as Liz Lawson for all those prompts :-).

I got to meet and reconnect with some wonderful authors, and I’m feeling even more motivated to finish drafting my rom-com 🙂 I’m very excited about the progress I’ve made and for my upcoming Summer goals 🙂

1. Finish drafting my rom-com. This will be my main focus in the next two weeks so that I can send it to my CPs mid-August. I need about 15000 words. Totally do-able, right? ⁣⁣

2. Announce and promote something very exciting (related to an audiobook). My newsletter subscribers will find out first (you can subscribe here: http://eepurl.com/g_Qp4D – hint, hint). ⁣⁣

3. Prepare for the publication of the Italian translation of ALWAYS SECOND BEST.⁣⁣

4. Continue adding words to 2 small projects. ⁣⁣

5. Continue brainstorming MISS ME, MISS ME NOT. I’m not “officially” writing it yet, but this project is never too far from my mind.

⁣⁣6. Publish the German/English version of ASLNO via Ingram. ⁣⁣

7. Enjoy the process and all those little happy moments. ❤

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Good news! I’m still in remission!

Good news! I’m still in remission! Keeping it short 🙂 Because I could write pages about everything. I won’t go into the details of Scanxiety or what it’s like to wait alone for the PET scan results because visitors are still not allowed in due to COVID-19 (Alex was allowed in the PET scan waiting area though which was nice) or how much I laughed with the nurses who gave me my second round of vaccines.

We are breathing a sigh of relief (more than one) and doing a happy dance (as well as we can dance :-)). My scan yesterday showed no signs of recurrence! Based on the scan, I may have a nasopharyngeal cyst (need to see an ENT doctor). and a problem with my thyroid (we’re going to investigate with a blood test at my next doctor’s visit). And it seems the rash I thought was eczema could actually be shingles. But and I quote my report, “no metabolic evidence of nodal or extranodal lymphoma recurrence.”

We are very grateful to my oncologist and his team and everyone for the support.

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Did you know you can recommend a book to your library or pre-order a book and receive pretty cool things?

There are pretty amazing books coming out in August. Let’s face it: There’s always a lot of amazing books coming out 🙂

Some authors organize pre-order / library request campaigns. Basically, all you have to do is either pre-order a book (pre-orders are really helpful to authors) or recommend it to your library (you

And recommending the library purchases a book doesn’t cost you anything (and you can do it from home too) so if you’re on a tight book-buying budget, you still can support an author and read amazing books and get free stuff.

Here are two on-going campaigns for books coming out in August I’m very very excited about.

  • CRY OF METAL & BONE by L. Penelope (On Sale August 11th – pre-order/library request campaign runs unti 8/11)

I absolutely loved the first book in this series. It took me out of a reading slump I was in. And the CRY OF METAL & BONE (on sale August 11th) just got a starred review from Booklist!

All info on L. Penelope’s website: https://lpenelope.com/2020/07/cry-of-metal-bone-pre-order-campaign/

  • NOW THAT I’VE FOUND YOU by Kristina Forest Pre-order campaign (also includes library recommendations)

I just bought Kristina’s first book I WANNA SEE WHERE YOU ARE after seeing it recommended by Nic Stone. I mean: ballet, road trip and romance? Plus that cover? Gorgeous.

Kristina’s second book “NOW THAT I’VE FOUND YOU” is coming out on August 25th and it also sounds so so good: “A YA novel about searching for answers, love, and your eccentric grandma in all the wrong places.

All info on Kristina’s Forest’s website: https://www.kristinaforest.com/ntify-preorder-campaign

Did you pre-order those books? Recommended them to your libraries?

Let me know in the comments 🙂

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Motivation Wednesday…

Yes, those are my feet and my Bombas‘ socks 🙂 A little motivation Wednesday mainly as a reminder to myself. But also as a way to ask you: what made you smile today?

⁣And full disclaimer: a lot of those thought-processes are easier for me because of years of therapy and a lot of work 😉 And it doesn’t mean I don’t have moments where I focus on the fact that this used to be much easier. Just putting that out there. 

⁣A few days ago, I did a few relevés and elevés from first position. They were far from perfect. And I can’t stand on the balls of my feet for very long or all the way because I still experience neuropathy and cramping in my feet (and hands) in addition to needing to re-build (or build – ha) muscles.

⁣But as I did those exercises, I smiled. Because it felt like progress. 

⁣Kind of like when you’re writing a sentence that stays with you or when you finally understand your character’s motivation or simply when you write a few words in-between busy times or hard times.

⁣I enjoyed this moment when it happened. I smiled like I said. I think I even laughed I was so happy. And I smile as I post it even if my feet and hands are currently cramping. I know I’ll do this exercise again today. And I am revising my first chapters feeling grateful. A reminder to keep going, to keep swimming, to keep writing.

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Neues Hoerbuch (auf Deutsch :-)) – New audiobook (in German)

Audible.deAmazon.de – iTunes (coming soon)
Eine kleine Hoerprobe…

Sie hatte sich schon auf dem Weg zur Spitze gesehen…Innerhalb einer Woche aendert sich Natalyas Leben fuer immer.

Die 16-jährige Natalya Pushkaya hat nur einen einzigen Traum: die beste Ballerina zu werden, die es je gegeben hat. Das Tanzen hat schon immer bestimmt, wer sie ist und sie würde alles tun, um die Hauptrolle in der jährlichen Abschlussvorstellung der School of Performing Arts zu landen.

Aber…wird es ihr gelingen?

Audible.deAmazon.de – iTunes (coming soon)


ABOUT THE NARRATOR

I was very happy to work with Kathrin Kana on this audiobook. She brings Natalya to life and am crossing my fingers she will narrate the follow-up as well 🙂

Award-winning bilingual voice-over artist w/ 18+ yrs. experience: commercials & industrials, language & audiobooks, etc.

Check out her website here: https://www.kathrinkanavoice.com/

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Why do I write?

This question came from #ASummerInWriting on Instagram – and I thought I’d share the answer on my blog too 🙂 Expanding it a little too…Oh and if you want to read some very thoughtful, heartfelt answers from other authors, don’t hesitate to browse the hashtag on Instagram. I was very humbled and touched by so many authors sharing their reasons yesterday.

Why do I write?

This was an easy and yet so difficult question to answer.

Difficult because there are so many reasons I write (including wanting to make a living out of writing – I mean I’m still day-dreaming about getting that call from Reese Whiterspoon about adapting one of my books or maybe Netflix or Lifetime).

But mainly, it is difficult because answering it also means being vulnerable in a way. Putting those words out there. Not a story. But part of my story.

And then answering it is also easy because I know the answers. I know why I write. All the reasons. And one of the main reasons.

I feel like it’s always been because writing is an outlet for my imagination.

Already when I was a teenager…I had those stories I wanted to tell. It’s hard to describe the feeling I have when I finally fully understand my characters and how much I want to be able to tell their stories. And how much I can’t wait for them to have a happy ending. Even though for some of them, it might take a lot of heartache along the way, they will have a happy ending.

Writing enables me to express myself. And know that my words may help others in one way or another. It might distract them. Pull them in. It might make them feel…

And when I don’t write, my anxiety and OCD tend to get worse. It doesn’t mean that writing is easy or that writing is the all-in-one solution.

It’s all about balance, right?

I go to therapy. Well, right now, I do zoom therapies 🙂

And I’m lucky that I have two wonderful therapists. One who’s been helping me deal with the anxieties related to cancer and who’s been helping me with staying in the moment, being more present while also not ignoring the fears that come with *wave hands* everything. 

And more recently I also started seeing an OCD specialist. And I’ll be forever grateful to my “cancer” therapist who recognized that she couldn’t help me with what I was going through with OCD. So that I could learn how to deal with it. It’s also a process. I have homework 😛

Apparently, going through months of chemo, then radiation, then immunotherapy, then a stem cell transplant and menopause and vitamin D deficiency and everything means that the brain may not have its usual mechanisms in place to deal with stress. Mechanisms I had learned in therapy back in Germany 🙂 I also had to learn new mechanisms for OCD as I hadn’t done too much work on that before. I’m telling you… it’s a process.

The last book I wrote TRUST ME, TRUST ME NOT meant a lot to me because I wrote it during treatment and right after treatment. I published it before my stem cell transplant. I raised money with it for LLS. I loved and still love Lacey and Hunter. Writing that book was very cathartic. And finishing to write that book felt like such an accomplishment.And the one I’m currently writing? It manages to make me laugh out loud. And swoon. And it’s very different than my romantic suspense (no killers in this one), but it’s another way for me to be in the moment. To work. To be productive. To dream. To be creative. To tell stories.

That’s why I write.

If you’re a writer, why do you write? And if you’re a reader, why do you read?

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#TeamJuwan 4th Annual Toy and Book Drive

Juwan’s Mom and I are in some of the same online Hodgkin’s Lymphoma support groups. We don’t know each other personally. But I’ve been following Juwan’s treatment and read his mom’s posts and seen videos of him in the Abington High School marching band (where he’s the lieutnant). I celebrate Juwan’s victories and I share the pain when there are setbacks. I smile with her and think of Juwan and his entire family often. As I was going through my own autologous stem cell transplant, I remembered reading his story. And he inspired me to stay as positive as I could. When it got rough, like when I had sepsis or when I couldn’t really eat or when I was feeling scared, what helped me was: my husband staying overnight, my parents visiting, the nurses and doctors who went above and beyond, my family and friends who sent notes and messages and checked in and thinking about the stories I had read. Juwan’s story was one of them.

For his 18th birthday and high school graduation, Juwan is organizing his 4th Annual Toy and Book Drive.

Because since he’s been diagnosed at the age of 13, he’s been organizing an Annual Toy And Book Drive for other children in the oncology unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to celebrate his own birthday.

“I decided to collect toys to give to the hospital, so that other children will have something to do, to stay positive,” said Juwan. (Source: 6abc)

Here’s how you can help with his drive, but please, please keep on reading to see how you can also help by registering and spreading the word about Be The Match, as Juwan’s autologous stem cell transplant failed and he’s in a need of a donor for an allo transplant.

  • Amazon Wish List for the pediatric oncology department at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Please write in the gift message that it is for Team Juwan: https://bit.ly/TeamJuwanWishList
  • Virtual yearbook to send your well wishes and congratulatory messages to Juwan on his graduation: https://bit.ly/TeamJuwanVirtualYearbook
  • You can also donate or mail a gift card to the Kisses for Kyle Foundation (local foundation that supports the families of pediatric cancer patients) (https://kissesforkyle.org/). Thanks for including a note mentioning your gift is from Team Juwan.

Juwan has also spearheaded a campaign to register more people to Be The Match. If you text “SAVEJUWAN” to 61474 you can get a link to be on the bone marrow donor registry and help potentially save his life or someone else’s.

And his goal at the beginning was to register 1000 people, but he helped register 10000 people! (I tried to add a video here but it’s not embedding for some reason…you can see it here).

He still doesn’t have a match.

“Even if he doesn’t find a match, he’s been adamant about getting more people on the registry list,” said Andrea Adams, Juwan’s mother. (Source: The Philadelphia Tribune).

The following is from an article published in The Philadelphia Tribune who talked to Lauren Mueller, a Be The Match spokesperson:

“If you’re a white patient in need there is a 72% chance to find a person on the registry list,” says Lauren Mueller, a Be The Match spokesperson. “The likelihood of someone who is African American or Black is as low as 23 percent.”

A person’s ethnic background can make all the difference. There is an urgent need to increase the ethnic background of the donor registry, especially in the African-American community. If more Black people register and donate, more Black lives will have a greater chance of survival.

“There is a huge gap we need to fill to give all patients life-saving procedure,” Mueller said. “We need to diversify the registry. That will help all patients find a perfect match.

“If someone joins and turns out [to be a match to Juwan] that can be a cure for him,” she added. “The transplant will be a cure. That’s pretty amazing.

“We are likely to match with someone who shares a similar ethnic background,” Mueller said. “Someone who is African American is more likely to match an African American donor with a similar genetic makeup.”

Adams has a 15% chance to find a donor because of his ethnicity, Andrea Adams said.

Source: BeTheMatch.org

Be The Match has announced concrete steps which might help raise the number of Black patients in need of a donor transplant to find a match (Source: Words Are Not Enough on BeTheMatch.org). Here are a few steps they are taking:

  • Increasing awareness and education in the Black and African American community about the resources and potential cures available to treat Sickle Cell and other blood diseases.
  • Adding a paid community engagement fellowship in the Twin Cities focused on building relationships and increasing trust with ethnically diverse communities.
  • Increasing the number of interns from historically black colleges and universities by 50%.
  • Committing $250,000 by the end of 2021 to partner with community and civic organizations serving diverse communities such as the National Urban League Young Professionals. (…)

Juwan’s 18th birthday is in July. So let’s continue sharing his story and his campaign to register more people to Be The Match. And let’s help him with his 4th Annual Toy and Book Drive. Let’s find ways to make him smile, like he always tries to find ways to make other people smile.

“It makes me happy when I can make someone else happy and make their day better, I don’t know what it is. I just enjoy putting smiles on people’s faces,” Adams says. (Source: 6abc)

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#BeTheMatch …You can save a life.

The Chemical Engineer just joined #BeTheMatch ‘s registry. Joining the Be The Match Registry® means volunteering to be listed as a potential blood stem cell donor, ready to save the life of any patient in need of a transplant. He’s about to put his swabbing kit back into the mail. That picture of him in the collage on the right is him smiling while swabbing his chick.We were inspired by Juwan (https://www.ourraceagainsttime.org/story-juwan/).

Juwan is a teenager who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma a year before me. His mom is a member of two online groups I’m also a member of and she shared his experience, his strength and the way he helped other kids throughout his own treatment. Juwan had an autologous stem cell transplant that unfortunately failed and he’s looking for a donor to do another transplant. Juwan is also helping getting more people to Be The Match. Can you “Be The Match?”

Thanks to his efforts 10 000 people registered to the registry. Anyone between the ages of 18 and 44 can help by texting savejuwan to 61474 or registering online at http://join.bethematch.org/Juwan

Have you registered?

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I don’t understand…

I don’t understand.

I was on Facebook yesterday and I saw people talking about George Floyd’s death and while acknowledging the officers needed to be arrested, dismissing the idea of systemic racism.

And I’m baffled.

I’m baffled because saying one needs to look at the issue of systemic racism, including in the police force, doesn’t (a) say everyone is knowingly racist, (b) includes the idea of internalized bias, (c) doesn’t take away from the courage of police officers who put their lives at risk or the sacrifice their families makes.

It doesn’t.

Currently reading.

And some of you might be rolling your eyes reading this (if you still are). Others might be saying, “What does she know? She’s a liberal bleeding heart. Such a snowflake.” And you might be getting angry. Frustrated. Just the picture of the book I’m reading may have annoyed you.

“Blue Lives Matter”, you might reply. Or post a meme or two. And I could reply that you’re not blue. But that would probably stop you from reading. A knee-jerk reaction saying I don’t understand. So instead, I will reply with “Where do you see me saying police lives do not matter? Where did I imply that? Did I not recognize at the beginning of my post the sacrifices and courage it takes to be a police officer?” Because it’s true. It takes courage and sacrifice.

And I also agree there needs to be more training. There needs to be more support and more staffing. And there needs to be a discussion on why those other police officers stood by without intervening.

One does not negate the other.

He died.

“All Lives Matter”, you might answer. So why do you have a problem with “Black Lives Matter”? How is it that a 30-year old White man will be called a boy? And a twelve-year old Black boy will be said to look older than his age? It’s pernicious. It’s there. In the words. In the attitude.

Reports have shown that there is racial bias in the healthcare system.

The same goes in the justice system. “Reports” You may cough dismissingly.

Here’s what the report on Baltimore policing mentioned for example: “Black pedestrians were 37 percent more likely to be searched by Baltimore police citywide and 23 percent more likely to be searched during vehicle stops. But officers found contraband twice as often when searching white residents during vehicle stops and 50 percent more often during pedestrian stops, the report notes.” (Source: The Baltimore Sun).

In both healthcare and the justice system and in our everyday life, this type of behavior is fueled by internalized bias. Internalized racism. Some of you might stop reading here. Because what? Of course not. *I* am not racist. This is so outrageous and wrong and offensive. But I’m not talking about a conscious choice of being racist.

Of course most of us would stand up against explicit bias. I want to believe most of the people reading this wouldn’t go to Charlottesville with tikki torches, screaming “Jews will not replace us.” And most of the people reading this would be outraged about people calling Michelle Obama a “Monkey Face” or an “Ape in heels”, or about the shooting in a Black church in Charlerston. Because this is outward racism. Because this is tragic.

But then there’s internal bias. The one we don’t notice. The one I know I have. Am I so different from you? I recognize I can have internal bias. But you…you reading this getting mad and frustrated or simply laughing because “This is bullshit”.

Because why? You never made any disparaging comments? You never used the n-word. I never did either. But the bias is still there.

And I’m aware of it. And I’m consciously fighting it.

It’s also really ingrained in the smallest things. Like as pointed out in this Twitter thread: 

One example she mentions in case you didn’t click on the link is going to ballet class and being asked to wear “flesh tone” tights:

I was six and in ballet when I first heard this term. I had to buy flesh tone tights as part of the supplies to take a dance class. Flesh tone tights are not the color of my flesh. This assumption of white as the default is white supremacy.

Small things. But those small things add up. Especially when they start in childhood. Because what this doesn’t mention is on the other side you had a white child who didn’t ask himself or herself about buying the tights. His or her mother didn’t blink at the mention of flesh tone tights.

Everyone is the same. Equal rights. Equal opportunities.

But is it? Really?

The outrage at the word racism, because “Of course, I’m not.” Because we are not knowingly engaging in racism. Not going out with signs. Not burning crosses on front lawns.

And yet not recognizing the insidious way it is in society. Not recognizing privilege. Not recognizing the centuries of suffering.

“But it was such a long time ago. They should just get over it.”

Was it that long ago?

Was your grandfather or great grand-father going to the same schools as the grandfather of Black Americans of the same age? Your. Grandfather. This wasn’t that long ago. And the ramifications of centuries of oppression doesn’t disappear in the blink of an eye.

Oh and how about?

“But I struggle too. And I’m from the same neighborhood. I got out.”

No one has said your success isn’t valid. Your success is valid. It doesn’t stop your success, it simply means the color of your skin didn’t further hinder you. It didn’t add an additional hurdle.

“I don’t see color.” In the “White Fragility, Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism” book I’m currently reading, there’s a line that stayed with me. “If you don’t see color, how can you see racism?” There are a lot of examples in that book. And it is definitely thought-provoking.

“Why should I feel bad about being White?”
No one is asking you to feel bad about being White. I think it’s missing the point if your argument is you don’t want to feel guilty for something you didn’t choose. No one is asking for you to beat yourself up because you’re white. Recognizing a sort of privilege that comes with being white simply means (to me at least) that you now can actively find ways to fight the unconscious racial bias that is part of society. Be the kind of person who’s part of the solution. Actively part of the solution. Instead of washing your hands from the problem, “because you’re not racist.” Again, you don’t have to go around with tikki torches to benefit from a system that was put in place before you were born.

“Hinder me? In this country, we can be who we want to be.”
Sure. But can you recognize it is harder for POCs? There are countless studies that prove it is harder. I know it’s not easy to accept. Again, it doesn’t diminish your own personal success.

“You’re just being a snowflake.”
But who’s refusing to take a closer look at oneself?

“My Black friend said it wasn’t a racist problem.”
Did you have the discussion? Did you look at the bigger picture? Or have you decided since one of your Black friends is saying there’s no problem, then *sigh of relief* you’ve been in the right all along.

“The media is responsible. They’re throwing flames to the fire.” Like the Black reporter who got arrested on live TV this morning? Or because they are reporting the words of the President?
Or because they are sensationalizing the news? Yes, sometimes there can be theatrics in news. But it doesn’t take away from what happened and has been happening.

“But they’re looting, destroying their own community. How is that helping?”
Someone on Twitter pointed out at Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protest which also wasn’t accepted because some had decided it was disrespectful. And you might get triggered and get hung up on how, yes, it is disrespectful in your eyes. And if I start talking about the protests at the capitols with people carrying their guns and verbally threatening lawmakers, you’ll again tell me how this is a free country and they’re not breaking and looting anything.
I’m not condoning looting. I’m not condoning the destruction of property.
Just like I don’t condone looting or the destruction of property when the University of Maryland wins against Duke.
And yet, the outrage seems less.

Jason Reynolds (the New York Times best-selling author of All American Boys, the Track series, Long Way Down, For Everyone, and Miles Morales-Spiderman.) tweeted the following:

(added the following in blue on May 30th) There’s also more and more talks about how some people burning and rioting are (1) not from the area of protestors and (2) could be from organized groups such as white supremacy groups.

And if you’re now saying, “But I acknowledge this was wrong. What happened was wrong. But…This is not an appropriate type of reaction.”

Have you stopped to think about the pain and anger that’s triggering this reaction?

Some violence might also be instigated by outside groups.

Not condoning the looting and destruction shouldn’t prevent from understanding the why. Or trying to understand the why.

And an author I admire (Nic Stone, love her books) shared this quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. Did you know this quote? I didn’t:

“…I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.” (“The Other America” speech at Stanford University)

“Well, they’re being racist too. So much anti-whiteness going on these days.” I’ve only seen a couple of acquaintances posting memes like these on my Facebook wall. And we could have an entire discussion on why this discussion point is to put it mildly extremely problematic. Maybe you can start by reading this:
http://www.milwaukeeindependent.com/…/myth-anti-whiteness-…/

“You don’t understand. You’re French anyways.”

True. I am. And racism is a problem in France too. I’m not denying that. The history of colonialism isn’t something that, in my view, has been entirely dealt with. There’s definitely internalized racism in France too. When you apply to a job with a certain name, your chance of getting that job are lower. I’m fully aware of this.

However, being French doesn’t prevent me from reading and informing myself and recognizing what is happening around me.

Being French doesn’t prevent me from feeling like I’m part of the United States too, loving this country and understanding it is not perfect. I’ve been living in the United States for about eleven years. This is a home to me too.

I want to believe we want to do better. To be better. I want to believe that the majority of us want to strive to be better. To help.

So if you’ve read this entire post, I might not have convinced you. You might still be coming up in your mind with counter-arguments for every point I’ve just made. Maybe ask yourself why that is.

Because what did I write that may have offended you?
What did I write that was not based on facts?
What do you have to lose by trying to actively do something against racism? Since we all tend to agree that racism is bad. If we dig deeper and find those bias, if we realize that it is institutionalized, then maybe we can do better. Maybe we can be better.

And in case you want to know more about what we can do, or how to inform ourselves more, here are several links with resources.

• “Anti-racism resources” : https://docs.google.com/…/1BRlF2_zhNe86SGgHa6-VlBO…/preview…
• “FOR OUR WHITE FRIENDS DESIRING TO BE ALLIES”: https://sojo.net/artic…/our-white-friends-desiring-be-allies
* Unconcious Bias and its Influence on Decision Making https://gradschool.princeton.edu/…/diversi…/unconcious-bias…

And let me know if you’ve read or are reading “White Fragility – why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism.”