Expanding Understanding During #BlackHistoryMonth: Can You Help Me?

Good communication starts with asking questions. So does good storytelling. After all, how many sci-fi and fantasy novels start by posing the question “What if the world was like this instead?” and explore the answer in a plot that lasts for hundreds of pages and keeps the reader gripped until the very end?

Twitter reminded me that October is Black History Month in the UK and this got me thinking. As a person with a disability in a world designed overwhelmingly for able-bodied people, I understand one kind of inequality. As a person who wants to see a more equal world, I really want my business (MKL Proofreading and Editing) to encourage inclusivity and support authors from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds.

Ultimately I would like this blog to be a forum where we can shine a light on inclusivity issues, particularly within the publishing industry. I want to celebrate the wonderful work of authors from different communities – writers with disabilities, Black writers and writers of colour, neurodiverse writers, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex writers. We are all people. People come in infinite varieties. Everyone has a need to be acknowledged, to be seen, during everyday interactions or in the media that constantly surrounds us.

Having the desire to create an inclusive space on my blog and run a truly inclusive business also got me worried. Truthfully, I’m very ignorant of things beyond my own experience. When it is it okay to use the word “Black” with a capital B? When is it right to use a lowercase b? Is the preferred term “People of Colour” or is that more prevalent in the USA? Are these linguistic distinctions important, or is it better to focus on how people, or characters, are represented rather than on the language used to classify them? These are just some of the things I’m learning about.

Another thing that makes me hesitate to talk about race and inequality, or the experiences of people in other underrepresented groups, is that I’d hate to accidentally upset someone or cause harm through sheer ignorance.

I’m taking steps to educate myself. I’m asking questions.

Can anybody recommend any books/podcasts/videos/essays that would educate me on black issues and perspectives?

Is there anybody out there who’d be happy to talk to me first hand about Black History beyond slavery?

What if the world was more accurately represented in mainstream literature?

Please share your suggestions in the comments. I’d particularly love to hear from Black historians, writers and bloggers – please reach out.

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