I admire author Natashia Deón for reasons artistic and otherwise. What especially rises up right now is the way she uses her powerful voice for things that matter, not always a safe thing to do.

It’s like she’s made some kind of  Venn diagram for herself, with her professions and her ideals converging in the space where she directs her effort. Of course she’s a transcendent author (Grace and The Perishing). She’s a criminal defense attorney who works to obtain early release for longtime prison inmates. She teaches writing at UCLA and Antioch University. She raises two children with special needs. She’s a master’s candidate in clinical psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary. All of this informs the way she directs her energy.

Maybe because of that clear centering, she has the courage to fully, publicly voice her convictions.

The spotlight created by historical novel The Perishing’s upcoming publication gives her the chance to reflect on current events. On a disturbing confluence–debate in the Virginia governor’s race over whether Toni Morrison’s novel, Beloved, is too upsetting for high school students to read, and the more-abstract debate there about Critical Race Theory–Deón writes in the LA Times:

“We have an opportunity as a country and as a people and, yes, even as individuals, to learn from our past and do better. When we hold on to the myth of the good ol’ days and choose to scrub from the record what makes us uncomfortable, we instead romanticize history for our convenience. This kind of thinking lacks the maturity required for positive change. Without maturity, we keep spinning — new faces, same issues. And it’s time we as a country stop spinning.”

By weighing in, Deón takes risks. The right risks. An example to the rest of us.

It’s an honor to meet her in performance and conversation at Stories on Stage Sacramento.

Register for the free, 5 pm, 11/12 Zoom performance.

Read more from Natashia’s essay.