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Why Diversity Matters in Storytelling

The Whys and Hows of Diversity

If you know someone of a diverse background, how do you empathize with them if you don’t know their story?

Are there characters in your story with a diverse background? If not, why? Are you unsure of how to portray these fellow citizens? Then you need to hear their stories, talk to them, help represent them in your story in a light that is not cliché or rife with hearsay.

Why don’t we hear more of underrepresented stories

o Lack of access to decision makers

o Lack of resources to purchase the education needed. Make no mistake – the fastest route is being able to invest in the classes to learn what you need to know.

Take it from me – my high-tech career affords me the ability to do this but there are so many talented writers that don’t have this ability. Should that mean that their stories should not be told? Should we wish and hope that they win some contest to propel them to the light that needs to shine on them? We’re not willing to take that chance anymore.

What happens when diverse people don’t have access to tell their stories

Have you seen in social media when someone talks about their experience and they, the experience haver, is shouted down by those who “don’t believe it happened” or “never heard of that happening”? It happens frequently to those who are experiencing things that others cannot handle or want to ignore. You know the importance of seeing what you’ve gone through represented in the arts. You feel heard, seen, almost understood. Everyone deserves to feel this way.

Writers are encouraged to take in the world. Travel, sit in coffee shops, eavesdrop on conversations, be in the world so that you can write about it and represent it. The world is diverse. There are a million stories out there. Even if your story doesn’t feature diverse people, hearing about a wide variety of experiences just makes your writing better. Period.

Diverse people are audiences and decision makers

More and more, thank God, there are diverse people who can greenlight stories. Stories that are tone deaf to other types of people will not get a pass like they used to.

There are genres of stories that diverse stories will not go watch, no matter how many awards they may get. Diverse groups can no longer be ignored if you are thinking about the ROI of your story. Niche stories are not obsolete but realizing that your story only speaks to a small amount of the population are a harder sell.

by Candace Green Blust, May 1, 2022

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