I've been talking a lot about my #WriteInclusively campaign recently but I realized I never really showed why it's so necessary, on a factual basis at least.
SO, SCIENCE!! *confetti*
Here's an article that discusses various studies about the link between reading and being 'more human'. Honestly, not a fan of the article. Kinda long. Kinda boring.
Honestly, to all of us who read and write, building empathy is kind of a given. Being a good writer means understanding our character, and usually the character we are writing has different identities than we do. That means we strive to understand, empathize, and realize very different experiences than we have.
If that sounds exhausting, it's because it is. We writers constantly think and over-think every action of characters take. And in that process, we understand the humanity of these people.
That is why #WriteInclusively is so important. When we write inclusively, when we include characters of different colors, different sexual and gender identities, different abilities, when we write about these characters who are too often ignored, we are putting ourselves through the task of empathizing and humanizing these people.
It's vitally important that we keep writing about underrepresented identities. I'm deeply against the idea that writers cannot responsibly write from the perspective of characters who identify differently than the writer. After all, authors of color have been writing about white characters for such a long time.
And it's hard. Very hard. I have a deep fear that, even though I edit voraciously, research a ton, and get a lot of beta readers, I am misrepresenting the characters I write about. It's a constant battle to decolonize our thinking and break free of social constructions. It's a battle to elevate and trust the truth spoken from those we are writing about, and to block out what others tell us. We will fail, a lot. And we will have to correct ourselves. But we have to do it.
It is not a political statement to have a LGBTQ, person of color, or person of different ability as our main character. Since when did humanity become political? Honestly, I'm fed up with politics being brought into everything. We're humans, not political parties - we can do things without them being political!
Our readers will read our books and empathize with the characters we create. If we do our jobs right, we will humanize our characters. It is something that we crucially need in the world we live in. The more I think about it, the more every social injustice stems from not realizing the humanity of the victims.
If we recognized everyone's humanity, this world would be a much, much better place. We as authors have the ability to make this world better - our books have the scientific ability to make people empathize with identities they'll never experience (isn't that incredible?!).
We have the power to make the world better, one child, one reader, and one writer at a time (because we can't forget about self-improvement!). We can make this a great world for all people.
That's why #WriteInclusively is so important. And, if you wish, I urge you to write inclusively!
How do you think writing can help the world? What do you feel is the power of writing and reading?