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THE WORD | A STORYTELLING SANCTUARY
A non-profit organization working to build a publishing community that will fight for inclusivity.
To promote voices from underserved communities and diverse backgrounds, to honor the stories of those who have faced adversity and injustice, and to provide a sanctuary space where these groups will see themselves in literature.
Partner within the book publishing industry & with community-focused groups to promote a diverse publishing industry that understands and addresses the recruiting, retention and training hurdles that limit the participation of underrepresented groups in publishing.
Spotlight authors from underrepresented communities & rally for books in which diverse experiences are seen, through a physical bookstore with a collection that reflects diverse backgrounds and by connecting authors from underrepresented groups with knowledge and expertise on book publishing.
Connect diverse communities with the publishing industry, by organizing resources and programming that let future industry members from diverse backgrounds navigate among publishing industry roles and find their paths within the industry.
We promote the inclusive representation of experiences in literature, including a diversity of experiences based on:
racial, cultural, ethnic, or religious identity; gender identity; sexual orientation; physical, cognitive, or emotional disability; socioeconomic adversity; and personal experiences of adversity or injustice.
*We recognize that personal experiences of adversity occur in many forms and we believe that the impact of each must be respected. To guide the use of our resources, we focus on experiences that lack representation in literature, based on our best knowledge and research.
1. CULTURAL EQUITY
Our fight is for cultural equity, including that:
creators from marginalized communities should have equal access to resources that will allow them to create and share their stories,
creators from marginalized communities should have the freedom to share their own stories based on their own vision, including through equal opportunities for linguistic play and creative narrative structure; and
no central arbiter of taste should assign relative value to stories, and The Word will refrain from assigning relative value.
We recognize the long history of cultural erasure that continues to affect marginalized communities today, including:
the paucity of opportunities for members of marginalized communities to share either their own experiences or their creative visions, and
a history of stereotypes and misinformation perpetuated by creators from outside of these communities.
2. RESPECT FOR SELF-IDENTIFICATION
This organization recognizes the complexity of each individual’s identity, and does not make judgments about individual identities.
We respect any self-identifying community member. When engaging with our programs and opportunities, we ask only that our community members consider whether their identities and backgrounds have offered challenges along their literary paths and whether each thinks that their work will contribute to our mission to achieve greater inclusivity among those groups that have been historically marginalized.
3. GROWTH & FORWARD PROGRESS
Our work will encourage and foster opportunities for individual and institutional growth. We recognize that mistakes may be opportunities for dialogue and change, and will act as a partner in these opportunities.
We will not condone ill-intentioned, nor neglectfully ill-informed, actions that result in discrimination or tokenizing.
4. WORK IN SERVICE OF MARGINALIZED COMMUNITIES
We support programming and partnerships that are focused on serving marginalized communities, working toward the goals of respect and equity, with consideration of the needs of those communities.
We will refrain from participating in programming or partnerships that include marginalized communities in a manner that tokenizes rather than serves.
We will listen to learn the needs of community members, with an approach of trust and without skepticism.
6. CULTURAL HUMILITY
We recognize that understanding equity, identity, and an infinite variety of cultures is evolving work. We commit to regularly challenging our organizational knowledge and to revisiting our core values as we continue to learn.