The Artdog Quote(s) of the Week
Who owns our voices? If you run in the circles I do, you’re aware of the “own voices” movement, which has been growing since 2015. It started in children’s books, but it’s reaching far beyond that now, because it’s a sound idea.
In simplest terms, as Blue Crow Publishing lays it out, “‘Own voices’ means that if you are writing a main character who is part of marginalized group, you are part of that marginalized group.“
It’s a simple, elegant, empowering idea
For so many, many years, marginalized voices went unheard. Drawing on Blue Crow’s explanation above, if, for example, you were a trans* person writing about a trans* main character in the past, you wouldn’t even be able to get published at all. The gatekeepers were all white cis folk who didn’t have a clue about the issues, drama, and authentic visions of trans* persons.
Heck, most of the traditional media still have a problem letting more marginalized voices speak up. Remember #Oscarssowhite? That was a few years ago (2015), but it seems the lessons keep on having to be re-learned.
Sorry to all the wishful thinkers. No, we are not yet “post-racial.“ We have a long, long, long way to go, before we get there.
I remain convinced that until the rise of indie publishing, and the success of niche markets such as gay erotica (which doesn’t even seem so “niche” any more), we would have seen the “own voices” movement rise even more slowly.
Why are authentic “own voices” needed?
Environmental science, biology, history, business experience, and common sense all teach us the same lesson. A diverse community brings a variety of strengths to the table. More approaches. More interesting meetings of minds and cultures and perspectives. Diverse communities are stronger and more adaptable. Yet humans’ instinct for tribalism fights this truth.
Likewise, intellectual communities are more adaptable, versatile, and robust when they accept many inputs. Our own individual world-views are deepened and enhanced by knowledge of wider ranges of possibility. When we pay attention to writers who tell their own stories and speak in their own voices, our understandings expand.
I recently blogged on my publisher’s website about the book American Dirt, and the need to read works by people who really know what they’re writing about. Such accounts tend (when well-written) to be more powerful and more realistic. And interesting.
Many thanks to The Huffington Post, which published two features that provided all of these posts. They are “18 Times Black Actors Nailed Why We Need Representation in Film,” and its sidebar slide show (scroll to the bottom), “16 Times Latinos Were Brutally Honest about Hollywood’s Lack of Diversity.”