Tag Archives: BIPOC

What I’ve learned as a Sensitivity Reader and a Diversity Editor.

I’ve been a Sensitivity Reader and Diversity Editor for my full career as a writer.  I’ve been diligent in my creation of characters and story and have constantly checked my own biases. Being Mixed Blood, Indigenous and Black, I write from my worldview but even then, for the sake of the story, I check myself. And have others check me. Sometimes it’s taken other people to see what what I can’t.

I was often asked by other writers to do the same for their projects, so making this service a job made sense. Makes sense. I have to admit, I began thinking there would be element of teaching in this job and I wondered how I would do that in a manner that was understanding to the struggle writers face if their goal was authenticity. What I didn’t expect to happen was that I would learn so much about my clients and therefore I would get to celebrate the growth of a stronger writers’ community.

This is just a short list of what I’ve learned about my clients, these writers:

  • Writers are trying. They want to be respectful and they’re aware of the possibility they won’t be because they just don’t know some things.
  • Writers believe in inclusivity, even when they don’t know for sure if what they’re doing is enough. Or correct. They believe in it even if the definition of what’s correct shifts on them over time. 
  • Writers have the courage to ask for help. And they strive to understand.
  • Writers may hesitate to develop the character or describe them or give them full dialogue, but it’s from a fear of insulting them. 
  • Writers appreciate the assistance.

They want their words and stories to be seen, read, heard and felt. If whatever the project is gets shut down before it lives its full possible life, then doesn’t that work against the reason to write it in the first place?

I’ve had the joy of working for individuals and publishing firms on beautiful children’s books, YA novels, literary novels, memoirs, nonfiction books, textbooks, website content, inclusivity statements, columns, plays, essays, screenplays and TV shows. I’ve been asked to read specifically for one character, while other times the request is for the full world. There are some incredibly talented writers out there that I can’t wait for everyone to know.

I love this job. I love being of service in this company of writers. And I love all that I’m learning in a time of much needed stories and art.

So if you’re in need of a Sensitivity/Authenticity Reader or Diversity Editor, or a Story Consultant, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

Write on.

Be safe.

To White People: You’re gonna have to smile first

I know. I know. That changes things quite a bit. This is not how we usually roll past each other. It’s not how we do things. How we function.

It’s on me to make sure cashiers see me and my big smile when I enter a store, regardless of what emotion I’m feeling, whether it’s a shit day or I’m really wishing to not be seen but I need to pick up my prescription.

It’s on me to show them very quickly that I’m harmless. That I’m not a thief nor am I going to blow up, go off or get uppity. I need them to believe I’m one of the good ones.

It’s on me to move aside and apologize if you bump into me with your cart. I’m in the space you want to enter.

It’s on me to not make any quick moves. And keep my hands out of my pockets.

It’s on me to lower my voice.

It’s on me to calm down and shush my laughter.

It’s on me to make sure you’re comfortable.

Yes, I’m wearing my No Justice No Peace t-shirt with a Black Lives Matter mask, and all my blessed turquoise, which is confusing for you. Maybe. I’m not exactly Black Black, but I’m Brown and if you need to stare at my hair, I have to be okay with that. I wore it out so what can I expect.

O Wait. We’re wearing masks. I can’t see if your lips are tight, if you’re sneering with disgust, ready to spit, or if you would actually smile.

I don’t know what to do now. How do I navigate the space we share?

See- If you’d had enough, if you think you’ve been quiet around all the Black and Brown people you had to encounter today, yesterday, this year or the last and today is the day of “I gotta say something about these people and all this shit,” I could easily be on the receiving end of that. I think about this every time I go out. With every white person I pass. Is this going to be that moment?

The race war was my nightmare…and novel

After the world watched Mr. Floyd being murdered by the brutal force of racist cops in my city, and BIPOC took it to the street, the white supremacists raced out to clash with them. This was an opportunity for them. They got the go ahead from their leaders, including the loudest in the white house.

I shook and shuttered with fear. I wept with my family and with the spirits of my ancestors. Because for years, I’ve had nightmares of running feet. Black feet. Brown feet. That’s where the story began that led me the story of STANDS ALONE. A Mixed Blood, half-Native, half-Black detective with the help of her ancestors takes on a white supremacist who starts a race war…

In Minneapolis. Yeah. I know Lake Street. And 38th and Chicago. South Minneapolis.

I’m still reeling. I’m still hurting. And this is the revolution.

BE safe.