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The Role of White Writers in Diverse Literature

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

The Bottom Line

  1. Listen: When we hear feedback that we have written something problematic, we need to take that seriously, and actually listen. Furthermore, we need to listen before we make mistakes.
  2. Research: Take the time to seek out the truth. This doesn’t mean to solicit a person for information. There is an abundance information out there for anyone willing to put in a modicum of effort.
  3. Take Action: Why not write diverse stories? That is the question we should be asking ourselves. Not why should this character be a person of color or why should this person non-binary? Our work should reflect our world and there’s no reason that we cannot have diverse works of literature as the norm. Does that mean we cannot have straight cis white characters? No. That’s ridiculous. No one is saying that and if you think anyone is, then please reevaluate. There’s a big difference between sharing space and being denied space.
  4. Consult: Once we have written something, we should get feedback to ensure that we are not misrepresenting ourselves or unintentionally promoting harmful stereotypes. This does not mean to run to our friends and beg them to speak on behalf of their entire community. It’s difficult to tell someone if they have written something problematic. Instead, let’s find someone who offers sensitivity reads and make the investment.
  5. Make Amends: So we have done our best. We have listened, researched, intentionally created diverse stories that stick in our lane, and we have even consulted. And STILL we have written something harmful or offensive. Now is the time for outrage, right? No. Graciously listen to the feedback. Return to step four. Then, apologize, and say a thank you for the helpful information. We will not be perfect writers, but we should always aim for progress.

Oh, goodness. Woes us, white people. Having to mind our manners and watch our tongue. Egad!

  • Note: Keep on the lookout for a discussion on straight, cis writers.



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