Want to ensure marginalized voices are heard? Listen to them before you write for them.
So, I've seen a lot of discussion about whether we should really be reading White Fragility and promoting it and books like White Like Me right now. And, I have to say that I understand the objection, even though I think those are good books to read.
The point is--don't JUST read those. And maybe don't read those first. Instead, start with books by Angela Davis, Ibram X. Kendi, Malcolm X, Henry Louis Gates, and Cornel West. You may need to go read books by white people about your white person biases after you read these other works and then go BACK to the texts by Black writers to fully respond and process those other works, and that's OK.
But don't just read one book on race by a white person and decide you are done.
Similarly, instead of White Savior narratives like The Help, Green Book, and Hidden Figures consider turning to works by Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Richard Wright, Colson Whitehead, Jesmyn Ward.
These lists are incomplete, but the idea is that if I point you in a direction, you can keep up the momentum, right?
Similarly, in a writer's group I'm in today, a cis woman (she identified herself as such) indicated she wanted to write about a trans character. Then a couple of men jumped in and said they were writing genderless characters or non-binary ones. They all indicated they want to bring a voice to the unrepresented. They were happy because they felt that no one else had done such work before.
While I applaud the attention to non-cis and non-het characters, I see a lot of writers talking about how underrepresented queer writers are. The problem is these well-meaning people aren't looking at the legacy before them and the contemporary writers around them.
So, if you're going to write about queer people, please go out and read works by queer people first. If you are writing fiction that has characters who are genderless or who flout gender conventions, go read Joanna Russ, Marge Piercy, Jeanette Winterson, Octavia Butler, T. Cooper, Leslie Feinberg, Caitlan Kiernan, Poppy Z. Brite (now Billy Martin).
It really only takes a few Google searches to find plenty of new writers to explore. Here are a few listicles to get you started:
15 Trans, Nonbinary, and Gender Nonconforming Writers to Support
Broaden Your Horizons with 19 Must-Reads by Trans and Nonbinary Authors
16 Books Written by Transgender and Nonbinary Authors You Should Already Be Reading
Go to Lambda Literary and explore there. Also, know that there are other organizations out there focused on fiction by LGBTQIA+ authors.
Please, writers, realize that you are entering a conversation that has already been started before you discovered the table existed. Please know where you are situated in that larger context before you decide to speak for a group you are an ally for, but not a member of.
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