I love history. But as fascinating as the past can be, we cannot always count on it to be pretty. For every human achievement in history, there is the commensurate human failure. For each policy put into action, for each acquisition of land, for every battle fought and won, some group or individual suffered negative implications or losses.
A great way to learn from our societal misdeeds, the only way to address systemic inequities that we see today, is to consider (and talk about) past events that enabled the status quo – no matter how unpleasant or painful. Otherwise, we may never understand the true nature of problems we are hoping to solve.
I pondered that old chestnut one warm Saturday afternoon in late March, as I walked to the Eastern Market Metro station in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington D.C. Earlier in the week I had arranged to meet there with my friend and colleague, Sandi Giver, who is no stranger to discussing unpleasant and painful past events.
I knew our interview would not be relevant to Texas history, or even to historical fiction, but I hoped that our conversation would shine some light on the mysterious process that brings to life an informative, important, and meaningful piece of writing, or as Sandi described it: a thing of love.
Around the time Sandi arrived, street performers had just finished Steely Dan’s “Do it Again” on bongos and the electric violin. Families and tourists were milling about in the sunshine, taking selfies and tapping their toes to the music. The atmosphere was typical of the area surrounding Eastern Market, and also the first weekend of D.C.’s famous cherry blossom season.
We headed south on Pennsylvania Avenue toward a quieter venue, to one of my favorite local eateries Bayou Bakery. With bellies full of New Orleans-style beignets and fresh coffees in hand, we settled onto a wooden park bench behind the restaurant to talk shop and discuss the joy and toil of writing with a mission.
Author Sandi Giver has over ten years of professional experience in anti-trafficking in persons and women’s health issues. Her book, One of Us: Sex, Violence, Injustice. Resilience, Love, Hope. (published in November 2016), recounts her experience with the military criminal justice system following her sexual assault by an active member of the U.S. Navy in 2011. Since then, Sandi has continued to dedicate herself to destigmatizing perceptions of sexual assault victims, as well as raising awareness, community organizing, and advocating for sexual assault policy reforms. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Social Work at the University of Maryland, Baltimore and works at Peace Corps headquarters in Washington D.C.