Guest Post: On Inclusion and Representation by Ariel Kalati

NOTE: Hey everyone! As I buckle down to try to finish final papers, I've got a special guest post for you guise from Ariel Kalati, of the Ch1Con and Ch21Con convention team! It's a great annual convention I absolutely encourage you to consider, and this year they'll have speakers including Karuna Riazi, Amanda Foody, and Christine Herman, which is pretty cool! Hope you enjoy the guest post!

Hi, I’m Ariel Kalati, and I do want to talk to you all about Ch1Con and Ch21Con. First off, though, I’ve promised some insightful publishing thoughts. Over the last few years of being part of publishing Twitter, I have met so many amazing people and seen so many organizations working towards diversifying publishing. What particularly intrigues me is the need for #OwnVoices work- not just representation of marginalized groups, but the presence of marginalized people in all parts of the publishing process.

The need for #OwnVoices is there for many reasons: more accurate representation, providing income for marginalized people, and ideally one day, a shift in the power dynamics of the publishing world. However, I’ve noticed a reason that is more personal and emotional in nature, but not any less important. Being surrounded entirely by people who don’t understand your identity and your struggles can be scary. Even with allies, it can be alienating. And seeing books that are only published by privileged authors can cause that same sense of alienation.

Panels and attendees at publishing conferences can be just as important. To create a truly effective and open publishing community, you need all sorts of voices. Groups like We Need Diverse Books have been calling out whitewashed panels for years now. But smaller organizations and individuals can also work to ensure a diversity of voices. At Chapter One Events, for example, one of our foremost goals is to make sure that every young writer who attends feels safe and feels that their individual voice can be heard. A major way to ensure that is to support all kinds of marginalized identities, in places like our author panels and speaker lists, and by using our online presence to support #OwnVoices books.

I don’t think we’re a perfect organization in this regard yet. But I think that moving towards diversity is about wanting to help alleviate that sense of alienation for marginalized people. And creating a safe space for young writers to congregate and learn about their craft goes hand in hand with that goal. I hope that Chapter One Events follows in the footsteps of other great nonprofits and writing organizations in creating safety and community for all voices.

Make sure you check out Ch1Con and Ch21Con! 

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