Friday, December 5, 2014

The Pact for Writing Inclusively - Please, We NEED Diverse Books

I haven't been quite bloggy these past few weeks. 

It's hard to admit, it's weird to admit. 

The live stream of Michael Brown's verdict played as I sat in my chair, and then the aftermath of these two non-indictments (Michael Brown's and Eric Garner's) followed soon after. It's odd because in just over a week, more frustration, anger, and hopelessness than I ever thought possible seeped into me - which is a privilege of my Indian ethnicity, because I can feel frustrated instead of afraid.

One of my friends - usually so happy and bubbly - descended into something dark and hopeless. In her words, "I am hurting. I hurt so fucking bad right now.'

And I've been exercising self-care. I needed time to deal with it all, and - recently - to realize what my place is in this discussion. Do I have a place?

It's a myth that non-blacks and non-Hispanics have no place in this dialogue on racism. One of my favorite quotes of all time has guided my action:

Let me reiterate: non-black and brown people have a place in this dialogue, namely, to acknowledge the privilege that comes with not being perceived as a threat everywhere we go and then to work against the systems that don't afford that privilege to other people. EDIT: I erased a group from the discussion. Muslims and people who look Muslim (people with brown skin, turbans, hijabs, burkas, etc.) are also seen as dangerous threats.

Firstly, we must come to terms with our privilege. Accept that it exists, understand that it exists. 

The media portrays blacks and Hispanics as looters, threats, and criminals - and when a black or brown person succeeds, it is in spite of their race, their race 'doesn't hold them back,' as if being successful is not a black or brown thing to do. Their race has been erased.

The system is not fair or just (I've done so much research on this - I didn't want it to be true - but quite simply, it is true; if you want, I can talk to you one-on-one about it). Learning about the extent of its unfairness might put you in the same state I was - and am - in. 

With what little influence I have, I'm on my knees and begging you, please, change this. 

No more dead innocents. No more corpses due to our racialized fears. No more throwing people into jail simply because we're scared. No more seeing people as threats simply due to their race. We are destroying lives people simply due to our racialized fears.

Most of those who are reading this blog are writers. We are WRITERS. Many of us are YA writers - which is great, since I have more hope for today's children to solve race problems than today's adults to solve them. Use the power of the pen, use what amazing gifts you have. I am begging you. Our 'normalization' of one race, one gender, one sexuality, one religion, same physical/mental ability, etc. is destroying us. Our silence is murder, for our silence normalizes oppression. Please please please please, don't ignore this blog post, don't ignore this message.

Diversity is not political - and if it is, that's sad. Diversity is truth. Since when did championing for human rights ever become politicized? Fear of being 'political' has led us to quiet our tongues (we are writers). Few of us speak about these issues because no one wants to be labeled as a 'liberal' or a 'Democrat'. Is anyone not disgusted by this? Since when did empathy become a stance?

Empathy and free speech are our fundamental tools of trade! How can we have lost them? Since we create writing that enters into mass media, we must responsibly portray the subjects of our novels in a realistic way and fight against the normalization of diversity-less communities or stereotype-riddled character tropes. We must portray the truth.

Our silence is murder.

It'd be foolish to ignore the cultural impacts our words have - and how that relates to the cycle of racism and oppression. The habitual instinct to make every character white since it is 'normal' or a 'blank slate' ties in directly with the lack of nuance in society's perception of people of color. To make a character colored, for example, is a 'big deal'. To make them have problems that don't relate to their race: an even bigger deal (although, since many colored characters' biggest problems deal with their race, doesn't that prove that racism isn't over? Maybe we do need more race-dealing novels).

We have to change the portrayal of minority groups.

(I use the word 'minority' quite ironically, since globally, many Western minorities are in fact majorities.)

We are allies, not leaders. Remember to make space for those writers who have dealt with these issues: they know more about it then the rest. For the writers who have dealt with these issues: please, take space. No matter who you offend with your truths, take space. 

I can't sit here and do nothing anymore. I'm sick and tired of it. With the little influence I have, I'm begging and I'm going to try and be an ally.

I'm asking whoever wishes, minorities and majorities, to join me in a pact to write with an active goal for diversity:

The Pact to Write Inclusively:

I will:

1) actively write, edit, and revise to challenge stereotypes that may be present in my writing
2) actively work against the normalization of a single identity
3) actively work towards the normalization of diversity

This does NOT mean every single character in your novel has to be a minority at ALL! That would be the erasure of the white race (which is not our intention). It doesn't even mean most or any of your characters have to be minorities. It just means you will work towards diversity however you choose to interpret that.

This pact is NOT only for black and brown folk and anti-racism issues. It encompasses LGBTQ+ representation, Native Americans, abelism, ageism, non-USA populations, and every single other underrepresented group. You can bring to this pact what you want!

This is a solid pact. Make sure you know what you're signing up for - to actively work towards the three objectives. Meaning, to look for the generalizations in your writing and then to work against it. 

Below will be the symbol of everyone on the pact. I've been searching for universal and simple signs for inclusion and diversity; the circle seems to pop up very often.

A circle of inclusion will be our symbol.

Once can easily, with some picture manipulating tools, overlay it on top of their Twitter/Facebook icons:

For example, mine! (Dang, I really should change my icon. So unprofessional! Ah well.)

If you need help overlaying the pact onto your Twitter/Facebook icon, PLEASE TELL ME! Send me an email SC_Author (at) yahoo (dot) com with your picture attached; I shall send you back the edited one :)


If you want to join the campaign, please subscribe below. I'll be sending out a monthly newsletter (monthly! I'm super super concerned with making sure I never over-email you) which will cover issues pertaining to Write Inclusively, such as related campaigns, important articles, etc. It'll include information about possible campaigns and social media 'blitzes'. The newsletter will also have information about writing contests and other publishing fun stuff that might be exclusively available only through the newsletter!


If you've subscribed, please please spread the word! I can only do so much alone - it's all of you who I need help from. Tweet with #WriteInclusively about what writing inclusively means to you, why it's important, how it relates with Ferguson and Eric Garner, and the power of writing to change the world. Why did you decide (if you decided) to take this pact? Then, please share the pact with this quick and easy link: 

This is what I came up with. This is what I can do at this stage of my life. All I know is, I'm done doing nothing or only ranting on Twitter. I'm sick of ranting. Everyone rants. I want action.

On a separate but related note, I also would like guest posts on the intersection of diversity and writing from writers of underrepresented identities, no matter what that identity is. If you have a good idea for a post and want to guest post, please send me an email (SC_Author (at) yahoo (dot) com) about your possible post. To writers that do not identify with underrepresented identities, it's time to simply read the posts. Make space instead of take space.

It's time we put our money where our mouth is. Too many promises have been made.

If you have anything to add to the pact, any ideas you think I've not incorporated, please comment and tell me! But please please, we're begging you, be an ally. Work in solidarity. Silence is murder, and people can't breathe.


  1. I love this. It's been on my mind so much, especially coming from a family of racists. I want to change the world, even if I can only do it with my pen.

    1. The pen is the strongest weapon we have against it. We have the power to make people empathize with people they'd normally stigmatize. Thank you thank you so much for wanting to change this - it's something we all have to do.