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The Chronicles of Nightfire, Texas

Author’s Note:

 

On the Casual Racism

Presented in This Series

 

 

This is not an apology for the book you now hold in your hands. Rather, it is an explanation and an acknowledgement. It has become important to me, in these turbulent times, to make clear my viewpoints and my reasoning for the use of casual racism in the dialogue of the characters who inhabit this narrative.

The Chronicles of Nightfire, Texas is a period drama. When I set the initial story in the mid-1970s, I delved into my own memories of that time. Though I was only a child, I still recall those years with crystal clarity. I wasn’t old enough myself to follow the nuances of politics, but I had no illusions then that the White people all around me were not generally racist, or, to put it more bluntly, more honestly, they were White supremacists, though they may all have denied it had they been put to the question directly; both to their accusers and to themselves. Racial slurs and unjust stereotypes peppered the vernacular whenever I left my house to play in the neighborhood or go to school. Racism was rampant, and it was treated as the norm. It was “casual.”

I feel fortunate to have been able to see it for what it was then, to be turned off by it even as a child, because in my own home, racism was not tolerated. It was not taught. White supremacy was never regarded as an acceptable viewpoint in my parents’ home. In fact, it was pointed out as an unforgiveable social evil whenever it was displayed in movies, television shows, literature, or interactions with openly racist relatives that my parents were there to guide me through.

The result of this was that my childhood was blessed with friends of all skin-tones and cultural backgrounds, and I never felt like anything was weird about that. But I did see the looks from some of my fellow White children, whose parents had raised them differently. I did hear the slurs and the awful racist jokes and chants on the playground. It was, for me, an identifying characteristic of the 1970s and early 1980s. It was a characteristic that I saw less and less of as time went on, until, in the 1990s, I stopped seeing it altogether. Such are the blind and deaf gifts that come wrapped beneath the bow of cultural privilege.

It was important to me to illustrate this culture of open racism in my novels that were to be set in that time period. It was, and is, important to me to call it out; to not pretend that it never happened; to embrace the reality that people I otherwise loved and respected had a White supremacist view of the world, whether they recognized it within themselves or not.

In other words, even many of the people I looked to as the “good guys” in my childhood dropped racial slurs as though it were nothing; as though it had no power or impact on the world around them.

So, to the point of this author’s note, when I sat down to write what would become the first story arc of this series, I hadn’t heard these White supremacist terms and viewpoints expressed so freely by anyone for some time. In my mind, it was a thing of the past that we were ashamed of as a society, and everyone knew it. In my privileged mind, putting these words into the mouths of my period-specific characters was a matter of historical accuracy that could never be misconstrued as condoning racism by anyone.

Then Barack Obama was elected president of the United States, and I woke up.

Suddenly, the attitudes of White supremacy, the irrational fear of Black people with power, was just as prevalent as it had been during my childhood, if not altogether more. It was the moment in history when I finally, truly, comprehended my own White privilege; when I saw that only through the eyes of White privilege could anyone possibly think we had ever been living in a post-racist society.

All at once, subplots I had mapped out for this series, regarding slavery and the civil rights movement, that I had earlier feared a modern audience would view as irrelevant, were more relevant than I had ever anticipated. These subplots about the horrors of our racist past, I now saw as having the power to shine a light on our racist present.

Fast forward to today, and I would argue that White supremacy in this country is more openly rampant than it has been since the days of the American Civil War. Fascists and White supremacists have been given permission by a number of our recent political leaders to wave their flags proudly. In these times, it is clear to me that nothing presented in this work of fiction, regarding the casual racism I witnessed in the 1970s and ’80s, “goes without saying.”

Anyone who has read the majority of my published work will know that the importance of human equality and diversity is a key element in my storytelling. It is a message that runs through almost everything that I have written over the past twenty-plus years. What sets this particular series apart is the fact that the racism is present, but it is never really addressed. It is never called out or condemned by the narrative. It simply is. The “bad guys” are racist. The “good guys” are racist. There is no distinction of this trait belonging more to one side or the other, because that was precisely what I witnessed, growing up in Texas at that time.

This author’s note is here for the sole purpose of calling the racist attitudes of the characters in this book out for precisely what they are meant to be. Again, I do not apologize for presenting history as I remember it. It is important to present as accurate a picture of our past as possible, so that we may learn from it, at appropriate times feel shame in it, and hopefully find ways to grow from it, which was always the goal with this series. The point, from the beginning, was always to expose the ugliness of our racist past, when White supremacy was a given and racism among White people was seldom counted as a vice.

While the characters’ racism in this particular arc of the series is never addressed outright beyond the late addition of this forward, by Volume II the characters start to call it out and struggle with it openly, and by the forthcoming Volume III, the racial subplots of the series thus far will come to a head in a powerful way. But I will never resolve these issues in this series. Racism will never be solved by these characters. Rather, they will be confronted by it, some of them will even wake up to it and struggle with it, and they will all make human choices, some for the better and some for the worse, because, even as we dip into a realm of vampires, ghosts, and supernatural horrors, this is, in the end, a story about humanity.

 

 

 

—Glenn Slade Clark, Jr.

Richardson, Texas

October 5, 2023

 

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The Chronicles of Nightfire, Texas "Author's Note: On the Casual Racism Presented in This Series"

First Published: October 2023
2023 by Clark Ink, LLC.