“…invisibility is a form of misinformation because invisibility denies the minoritized groups’ experience. To see virtually nothing testifying to an alternate experience from that of the dominant group is a form of misinformation. In other words, the group’s history, interests, needs, perspectives – their voices – are minimized or absent from history books, medical journals, media, movies – virtually nothing in dominant culture attests to the (positive) experience or value of the group.” – Robin DiAngelo, from the book What Does it Mean to Be White? Developing White Racial Literacy
Accountability While Addressing Invisibility
I am a writer. In addition to writing on this site, I take freelance writing gigs to help pay my bills. Over my career, many if not most of the pieces I’ve written have been about wonderful African-American and Latino people, organizations, and businesses in Asheville. These stories are important because they highlight positive people and action, and because they help to chip away at the invisibility of people of color’s stories in the majority narratives of our city. That invisibility is real and wrong and dangerous and needs to be dismantled. With this in mind, I have been committed to using opportunities I’m given to shine light on the important work of leaders in our community that the system wants to keep hidden.
That said, as I continue to take writing gigs, I will also continue to ask for accountability from others on this antiracist journey. I own the inherent issues with me, a white person, making money writing about African-American and Latinos. I’m walking a delicate line and I want to do it with as much integrity as possible.
With this context, there are three commitments I have that I’d like to share here. One: The stories I write about African-Americans and Latinos will always be interviews, putting the subject of the story’s voice in the forefront. Two: When I meet freelance writers of color in Asheville, if they are interested, I will connect them with any writing gigs I currently have that would be a good fit for them, even if that means I need to give up a gig. Three: I will continue to donate significant pro bono services to grassroots organizations working for racial equity in Asheville.
My life circumstances have led me to be in this position. My social network is more diverse than many (most?) people in the local media, giving me access to stories that have the potential of being overlooked due to our city’s de facto segregation. My interest in Asheville’s African-American history has led me to study that topic extensively. I am active on social media and I see the windows where the stories I care about can fit.
Asheville has a rich diversity of culture and its cultural identity can be more inclusive. I have a part to play in that. In the end, my intention is to help bring more voices into the conversation, and then to get out of the way.
Thank you for witnessing this.