FOR WRITERS: Writing Diversity

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FOR WRITERS

Today’s writer topic comes from QSFer Alex Harrow:

How do you ensure your writing is inclusive and covers multiple intersections of identity, sexuality, disability, and others?

Writers: This is a writer chat – you are welcome to share your own book/link, as long as it fits the chat, but please do so as part of a discussion about the topic.

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1 thought on “FOR WRITERS: Writing Diversity”

  1. Here are my suggestions to consider as you write to ensure your writing is inclusive and covers multiple intersections of identity, sexuality, disability, and others.

    Tell your story. If you have overcome obstacles to get to where you are, point those out. If, in contrast, you are privileged, acknowledge that. If you grew up walking uphill to school carrying two 20-pound sacks of rice on your back, by all means, tell that story. If you were raised with a silver spoon in your mouth, acknowledge your privilege. Either way, use your story to explain how you can empathize with others who confront challenges on their way to achieving their life goals.

    Focus on commonly accepted understandings of diversity and equity. Concentrate on issues such as race, gender, social class, and sexual orientation. Don’t try to tone down your writing by how it is hard to be a homosexual in Missouri, for example. Instead, write about racial oppression, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism or some other commonly recognized form of oppression.

    Avoid false parallels. By that I mean do not equate the exclusion you faced due to being a homosexual in Missouri with the exclusion an African-American faces at a primarily white institution. You do not have to be an African-American to have insight into the challenges they face, but if you do not have experiential knowledge of racism, then do not claim it. Instead, focus on writing about what you do know. If you feel comfortable getting personal, you can write about your own experiences of privilege or oppression. But you don’t have to get personal; you can cite statistics or studies to make your points.

    Write about specific things you have done to help others from underrepresented backgrounds succeed. If you have never done anything to help anyone, then go out and do something. Sign up to be a tutor at an underperforming school, build a house with Habitat for Humanity or incorporate antiracist topics in your writing. In addition to having a rewarding experience, you can write about diversity in your outreach.

    Highlight any programs for underrepresented students you’ve participated in. If you have had any involvement with such programs (e.g., Gay Youth Outreach Program), describe that involvement in your writing. This involvement can either be as a former participant or as a mentor or adviser to someone who has participated. These kinds of specific examples show that you understand what effective programs look like and how they work.

    Write about your commitment to working toward achieving equity and enhancing diversity. Describe specific ways you are willing to contribute. You can mention your willingness to contribute to pre-existing programs at a community center or you can express interest in creating new programs based on models at other centers.

    Modify your writing based on where you are sending it. Your writing for a community magazine in the rural South should not be the exact same one you send to a community magazine in urban California. Look up the demographics to which you are writing and mention those demographics in your writing.

    Hope this helps. I have used these ‘tips’ when writing for a local newspaper or a national magazine article to my book series (Echelon’s End) to stage plays and even screen plays.

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