You know, I always figured that if reality was ever to reflect my fiction, it would come after I was published. Or at least be a positive change instead of a negative one.
One of my manuscripts, A House Divided, features an independent Confederate States of America that has remained heavily segregated and unequal well into the 21st century. In expanding the mean-spirited unjustness of the general society, I decided that the designated “colored” clothing stores would be limited to thrift shops and hand-me-downs from white families.
Initially this was just a random idea on my part, taking the historical segregation a step further. I almost cut it a few times because it seemed too petty and childish to be real. But it eventually expanded into a recurring symbol of injustice and disrespect.
After all, in a consumer-based society, what better way to degrade a person than to declare that they’re not worthy of new clothes?
Unfortunately, it looks like I’m not the only one who had that idea.
I don’t usually bring politics into this blog, and I like the idea of complaining about another state’s decision even less. But this proposal just plain sends along the wrong implications, I think it deserves to be addressed.
Foster kids already have enough of a stigma and issues to overcome. Even if, as the State Senator says, this isn’t motivated by those issues, it’s still a nasty thing to do. Heck, it’s probably worse if that’s the case, because it means he just plain doesn’t care.
And it’s a weird feeling for me, as a writer, to have it so closely mirror something I came up with on the fly, especially since it’s an exaggeration that I was hesitate about because I didn’t know if it made any sense. If anything, it’s too realistic now.
I think I’m going to take another look at A House Divided this weekend, see where I can increase the predominance of that hand-me-down symbolism. It’s not every day that the news gets you thinking about your WIP, at least not in my genre. I figure I ought to put my feelings on the subject to good use.