By Marisa Cleveland
As authors, scholars, practitioners… we have a responsibility to understand our privilege. Our WRITE privilege.
So much of everything is related to our interconnectedness. But some people are unable to connect. Constraints like time, money, self-esteem, or other resources can prohibit genuine voices from seeking the spotlight. Some writers, scholars, and practitioners will make it to where they want to be. They will earn write privilege. The privilege to say what they want to say through a larger platform that will be heard and read by more than one.
Then what happens?
In the case of books in classrooms, we can have diverse books, but we also need teachers and parents willing and aware of how to initiate new conversations. We need the ones with the money to purchase and distribute these diverse books.
Publishing diverse books is one piece of the puzzle, but it’s not a flat puzzle. It’s 4-D. Maybe 5-D. There are layers and Lexile levels, and some authors will not understand the tremendous responsibility to tell their stories well.
But in today’s digital landscape and global economy, the thoughts we express, the language we use, the topics we address… all radiate our priorities and our voice. What we choose to display to the world classifies us by gender, socioeconomic, and cultural attributes. The way we communicate reveals who we are and how we live our values. That communication develops from childhood, as we adjust and learn and grow. Over time, we pick up all these little things that become normal to us, and they form our world view.
Children will always find role models, good or bad. They will see themselves, or lack of people like them, in the pages of the books they read. Today’s children face an unexamined path where overlapping injustices (such as gender and race) are not often found on the pages of their classroom books. The adopted Asian girl with limited motor skills could save the puppy from being lost in the forest, if someone wrote that book, and an agent represented that author, and an editor loved the book, and a publisher agreed to publish the book, and the teachers and parents with money bought the book and gave it to the adopted Asian girl with limited motor skills to read. Then, that girl could see herself at the heroine in her own story, and not a sidekick or a forgotten character not even found in the story at all.
I’m researching solutions for the whole picture, from the authentic author through to distribution into the classrooms and into the homes.
But it started somewhere, with those before me, so at least I have a starting line to this endless maze.
For those who know and those who don’t know but care, this is my introduction to a project I’m working on regarding a bunch of buzz words and publishing dynamics:
When you reach the point in your life where you’re living the dream, I hope you remember to appreciate the path you traveled to get there. Then, if you’re able, help someone else on their path.
Thanks for being here. Thanks for following my journey.