• Protests & Pandemic: General Discussion

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in CoronaVirus     Comments 37 comments

    Discussion questions: No specific questions, although there are a few suggestions below. I want this to be a space where we can keep in touch with each other during this unsettling time and talk about whatever we want to talk about, whether related to the protests, the pandemic, our writing, or none of the above.


    Near the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdowns we ran a post called “General Discussion” that was just a space for all of us to talk about our experiences of those weird early days; a place, we wrote, “where we can just keep in touch with each other and talk or vent about whatever the hell is on our minds.” Which we did: dozens of us had a long-running conversation about our hopes and fears, the struggles we were facing, the ways we were dealing with them.

    Time has done weird things since then. When I look at that eleven-week-old post, it feels like yesterday. But the real yesterday feels like years ago.


    The real yesterday was Day 11 of passionate protest, which has now spread to all fifty states. (Does that sound familiar? It has “spread to all fifty states”?)

    Night after night we see — if we choose to — graphic videos of nationwide brutality from militarized police and images of looting and arson, the ratio depending in large part on where we seek our information. We also see, if/when it’s delivered to us, an overwhelming amount of peaceful demonstration and calls for change.

    Curfews — curfews! — have been imposed in over 200 U.S. cities.

    Meanwhile, COVID-19 lurks in the background, continuing its spread. It’s even coming back stronger in some places, with numbers spiking in nearly twenty U.S. states and with experts afraid the mass protests will lead to an even greater spike. Many of us are still on lockdown, or at the very least not yet back to what we consider normal life.

    It’s a lot.


    So let’s talk about it. This thread is open for you to discuss whatever you want to discuss right now. 

    Some of the suggested topics from that COVID-19 discussion post still apply:

    What’s the vibe in your house? Your town or city? Your state? Your country?

    What are the biggest struggles you’re facing right now?

    What are you doing to stay healthy, physically and mentally?



    Have you taken part in any of the protests? If so, what was that experience like?

    Have you been writing, and if so, has the unrest informed that writing in any way? If you’re struggling to write, is it due in part to the protests and/or the continuing pandemic?


    Share your experiences, your hopes and fears, in the comments below, and/or talk about whatever the hell you want to talk about. And don’t be afraid to offer some words of support, encouragement, and advice to your fellow WriteByNighters.


    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast, and has written about books for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.

    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2020 writing project you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coachingprivate instruction and writer’s block counseling services. If you have a manuscript that’s ready for some editorial care, check out our various critiquing, editorial, and proofing servicesJoin our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”

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    That there is far more going on here than a “pandemic” strikes me as obvious and horrific. This is a continuation of the transformation of humanity launched by the 9-11 event. Such darkness weighs on me and it is only with effort that I can carry on with my writing efforts. Those efforts are mostly writing a novel and guiding a writers’ group. In working both pursuits, am I just pretending that the human right to live free isn’t being replaced by Orwell’s boot stamping on a human face? The world has certainly changed for the worse since my youth.… Read more »


    Yes, writing is therapeutic and is a major reason I do it. Distraction is important (vital, I think). The world’s darkness has always seeped into my writing. Even my “light” stuff, when I have tried to be positive–it is in response to negatives.   I have to say that human association with sympathetic souls is very helpful. Writing-wise, that comes from my writers group.   It is interesting how a novel can grow in ten years. That’s pretty much my time span too. My post apocalyptic world has grown. The chars have grown too. I relate to your “I don’t… Read more »

    Hans De Léo

    Hans De Léo is strictly non-political.   That being said, it is increasingly difficult to keep him that way.   The pandemic kept me working from home and adjusting to a new routine. America is starting to open back up. There’s still no indication of when my employer will want me to inhabit my assigned cubicle. The hardest part, from a writing perspective, has been getting back into a head space where I can sit down and just write. This is compounded when events occur that in themselves are upsetting enough, then compounded when people use some else’s tragedy to… Read more »

    Frances W

    I’m getting older, I’ve seen America go through so many changes. It’s a pendulum bringing us closer to a better society for all with each swing. Police brutality hurts my heart for my country that I have served my whole life in social justice and 22 years and 3 wars in the military. Looting and devastation of small businesses hurts my heart for my country. Watching thousands of young people risk their lives in a global pandemic to effect change, and actually have a plan, that energizes me! Makes me want to go out a support them all, but the… Read more »

    Aaron Reis

    I trust basically no one. When I do trust someone, I trust them so thoroughly, and fully, that I would inundate them with both wrong and right information, until they called the FBI just to bring an end to the madness.   I don’t trust that there is a way to get my work published, and remain as my intellectual property, unless I do that in person, with official renown, publicly available people.   In a world where there are hackers, and there isn’t net neutrality, and the NSA sees everything I do, and yet allows the quality of my… Read more »

    Aaron Reis

    The quality of the average American life*, would be more indicative of my sentiment.

    Barbara Mealer

    I’m glad I live in the middle of nowhere. The pandemic isn’t a reality here. The rioting and looting might as well be taking place in another country. Try that type of thing here and you would meet up with an army of country folk with guns and a willingness to use them to protect what is theirs which includes the town nearby. I guess the pandemic is over since no one seems to be social distancing any more.     With that said, I don’t watch the news regularly. It’s all a bunch of hype to get ratings and… Read more »

    Last edited 4 years ago by Bobbie
    Doug M.

    My wife nearly died from a “cardiac event” at the beginning of February, and we have been in isolation at home ever since. We are both going cabin crazy. Since George Floyd died, our community has come together in remarkable ways, police, churches, community groups. individual people, various minority groups, the comfortable and the poor. One way to describe it would be a sense that “we are all in this together.” We have been working on racial reconciliation for decades, and we are finally learning that listening is more important that speaking (or shouting).   In the world of politics,… Read more »

    Elissa Malcohn

    My county is a generally quiet, semi-rural place. It’s also a place where hate groups exist, to the point where I strongly suspect (though, mind you, cannot prove outright) that some members hold positions of power. That’s why, when I saw shortly after the inauguration, that we had a local Indivisible chapter, I literally whooped for joy at my desk. I am also one of four founders of a local coalition whose Facebook page numbers 300+ members (we do vetting). The coalition sprang up out of our seeing the same people at various protests.   Our protests started small. Over the past few years they… Read more »

    Elissa Malcohn

    PS: Today’s march was also peaceful and wonderfully done. Local paper coverage is at https://www.chronicleonline.com/news/local/citrus-county-residents-demonstrate-in-crystal-river-over-racism-and-minneapolis-death/article_feadc488-a907-11ea-add3-6b2b45fcca71.html . (“‘This county is very radically conservative in some parts and there was a massive push by many in the county not to do this,’ [the organizer] told the Chronicle, saying that many through social media threatened her and threatened to do violence against demonstrators unless she cancelled the event. ‘And that just goes to show you that this (demonstration) was absolutely needed,’ she added.”) A fellow coalition founder took this shot of me before the event started. We’d had a brief downpour, hence my… Read more »


    Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!


    Good morning, I am not sure what to say anymore in regards to this world, haircuts or anything else. But it sure makes me think about what’s important in life and the issues that matter in our every day experiences. If I used to think stopping by a coffee shop or buying lunch at the deli was one of the most exciting/and or best thing that could possibly happen during my day…I must say…I feel differently now. If I could be reassured this world would be more peaceful or that as human beings we would be willing to solve life’s… Read more »


    The protests make me feel more hopeful than I have felt since that bleak, frightening day in November, 2016. I am very moved to see that finally the whole world is LISTENING. Shut up and listen could be another rallying cry. I think when people focus too much on the looting and property destruction, they lose sight of the real message Likewise, there have been some very wonderful stories about positive policing and police officers with their hearts and minds in the right place, and I would not want those to be overshadowed by stories of brutality. However, the image… Read more »


    Do you actually see the very same kneeling cops turn around and be brutal, or just the same department? I saw the Police Chief of Houston marching with the people, and he had some good ideas. Also, in Atlanta, I heard the Mayor there say they did a lot of progressive policing and community proactive policing and they had a lot less looting, etc., than other large cities. I then read the story about how the white Police Chief of Montgomery retired and gave his badge to John Lewis as an apology for the Montgomery police having beaten him during… Read more »


    I am not american and I don’t live in the US, but I watch and listen to the protests in America, in France (Gilets jaunes and so many others). Listening is the first step to be aware and accept that there is / there are problems that need to be addressed by those who rule, those who represent us the people, and by us. America is not alone, like France and so many countries : poverty, hardship, scarcity, insufficient medical coverage for those who have little, are everywhere, the magnitude is overwhelming in our countries (not even talking about third… Read more »


    I live in Hong Kong but keep close contact with my relatives in France, and visit them and country whenever I can. The protests in France and in particular the one we call the Yellow Jackets had a deep impact on me.  This protest lasted for weeks, violence, looting, disruption, name it. All this well reported by the tv channels, I watched videos of shops being stormed, emptied, Police being beaten, disruption across the country, huge impact on work.  But that was only one side of the story. These TV media failed to really show the other side, the hard… Read more »


    Hi David! so far we (people /families) are not impacted- more few months back, although there was no risk as long as we stayed away from the heated places. I m not involved in the protests.


    This documentary I just watched deepened my awareness of history, politics, corporations and systemic racism. Very educational, very well done. Hard to watch but not without hope. It’s called 13th, about mass incarceration of African Americans. Free on You Tube right now, but I’m not sure it will always be free. It might be free as a public service now. Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=krfcq5pF8u8

    Elissa Malcohn

    I watched that with one of our local groups a couple of years ago and I second your recommendation! On my To View list is another free offering for this month, Just Mercy: https://youtu.be/q7MxXxFu6fI

    MC Maugeri

    I was born and raised in Italy and my relationship with race was somewhat different from the one I have been forced to consider here in the US. When I was a child the only black people I saw constantly were the Jeffersons, the Huxtables and the Winslows. To me these people were just Americans – a straightforward assumption since I knew the TV series I was watching were American.   I was surprised that in the US you needed to call them African-Americans, and my instinctive naive thoughts were: “Aren’t they born in America? Weren’t their parents? Calling them… Read more »

    MC Maugeri

    Hi David, I’m happy to hear you say that. The Modern Love column piece by Kim McLarin has the title “Race Wasn’t An Issue To Him, Which Was An Issue To Me.”
    This is the link to the Modern Love column https://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/03/fashion/03love.html
    And this is a link to the podcast:
    I referenced it from my memories of when I read it a few years ago. It makes sense to properly reference the writer and offer links to the material. (Noted :)

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