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
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
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.
October 5, 2023