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Fringe Fiction General Chat > For minorities, people with disabilities... what would you like to see me do?

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message 1: by Misha (last edited Nov 09, 2014 12:15AM) (new)

Misha (smallproblem) | 12 comments I'm an art student. Drawing and painting

I have a project I have to make on 'accessibility and inclusion'.

I really want to do something that isn't out of my own head. I've done enough of that.

So I'm asking here... what would be inclusive for someone who has been excluded?


Edit: I'm hoping this discussion will continue as a sort of idea board for how diversity/inclusiveness should be portrayed in media, which is definitely relevant to the group.

message 2: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) I live with disabilities, but I feel your question is too vague and I honestly don't know what you're asking.

Also, this is a group for indie authors. While we don't like to discourage any kind of related discussion, it's a bit confusing to ask for art project ideas in an author group. So, all in all, you might not get the answers you're seeking here.

message 3: by Misha (new)

Misha (smallproblem) | 12 comments Lily wrote: "I live with disabilities, but I feel your question is too vague and I honestly don't know what you're asking.

Also, this is a group for indie authors. While we don't like to discourage any kind of..."

Uhm, thanks for replying!

I realize that this may not be the group for it, but I kind of wanted to get a broad answer. That's why I'm asking so vaguely. And I am posting this a few different places, too.

Effectively, I want ideas thrown at me for what would constitute an 'inclusive' work, from the perspective of those I'm trying to include as opposed to my own.

message 4: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Well, first, I have to ask, what makes you think that accessibility and inclusion has anything to do with minorities or people living with disabilities? Is that part of the assignment or your interpretation?

message 5: by Misha (new)

Misha (smallproblem) | 12 comments Lily wrote: "Well, first, I have to ask, what makes you think that accessibility and inclusion has anything to do with minorities or people living with disabilities? Is that part of the assignment or your inter..."
Both, to some extent. It was certainly the focus of the assignment's phrasing. It's also the part I was thinking of focusing on.

The connection - to me - is that accessibility and inclusion are almost always granted by default to people in the majority population. I wanted to focus on the people who are often excluded by the 'default' setting.

message 6: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Honeslty, I often find "normal" people are far more excluded than people living with disabilities. We got an excuse if anyone thinks we're abnormal, weird, whatever. "Normal" people have the burdern of having to be, well, normal. All the time. Sad.

Anyway, I'm concerned your interpretation might actually be seeking sterotypes that don't exist. Just because a person lives with a disability, it doesn't mean they're automatically excluded from that default. We just chose not to use the default.

message 7: by Thomas (last edited Nov 07, 2014 08:42PM) (new)

Thomas Everson (authorthomaseverson) Inclusive for someone who is normally excluded is very broad, as Lily pointed out. You're going to need to narrow things down significantly and research a particular minority or disability.

If I understand a little of what your looking for, my following example might give a little insight on a particular issue.

My son has autism, amongst a slew of other diagnoses, and inclusion for him can be anything from playing in a bounce house with children that are considered normal at a party, to having a party and inviting only autistic children to interact with each other. Inclusion is made whenever an opportunity is possible.

message 8: by Misha (new)

Misha (smallproblem) | 12 comments Thank you, for both of you. I realize my topic is a bit... broad.

Lily- I'm weird. By choice. I wear strange clothes and act 'off'. I do it on purpose, because I don't really care what other people think. But I get that choice, because I'm a straight white able-bodied intelligent person. If I so chose, I could blend right into a crowd and do as everyone else does and no one would even notice me. I am not excluded, I just don't like the default. And that may be--in fact, thank you for mentioning it, because I now realize probably is--the case for some of the people I mentioned in my 'excluded' category.

The fact is that the automatic assumption is that everyone wants to be normal. Is that the case? I can say for certain that it is not. However, that doesn't mean that for someone who does want to be 'normal', but has something that prevents that, they are not being excluded.

Thomas... that is very much the sort of thing I'm looking for. I'm not at all sure how I would turn that particular example into an artwork, but I want to take into consideration the perspectives of the people I'm trying to be inclusive of. I have a more specific question just for you... how would your son interact with artwork? If he just wouldn't, what is the barrier to that interaction?

message 9: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Heh, I can said everyone wants to be normal ;)

message 10: by Misha (new)

Misha (smallproblem) | 12 comments It's a narcissism thing. People want to think everyone wants to be normal, because most people are normal, by definition, so basically they want to think everyone wants to be like them.

message 11: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Hmm, sounds more like need to feel like you belong somewhere. That's part of basic needs in sociological/psychological terms. Very few people honestly want to feel completely alone in the entire universe, unless they suffer from depression.

So, I would have to disagree. Narcissism is something completely different, where an individual feels no need to connect with anyone because their ego takes up all the space. But even the worse narcissist will feel the need to be a part of something, even if that something is what they've manipulated into existance.

You know what? I think I can kinda answer the original question. I would like to see ordinary people in extraordinay circumstances. An amputee soldier in a wheelchair fighting a war. An African-American drag queen. Random examples.

message 12: by Amber (new)

Amber Foxx (amberfoxx) | 287 comments Misha, there's been a group of book cover artists doing a thing on Facebook called the We Need More Diverse Books campaign. The names that come to mind are Ilene Wong and Gabrielle Prendergast as active promoters of this--trying to get books, especially YA, to show a greater diversity of characters on the covers. This might be of interest?

message 13: by Jaime (new)

Jaime (jaimeisbionic) | 2 comments It might actually be interesting to address the broadness and vagueness directed at disability or minority status as opposed to attempting to speak on those subjects intimately.

I often find that people lump all disability status together UNLESS they have a disability or live with someone who does. Sometimes even people with a mental illness will presume to know what it's like for someone suffering another type of mental illness.

The lack of nuance and distinction in itself is a type of exclusion. I do not say this as a personal criticism toward you, but rather a habit among people to categorize groups they do not have intimate knowledge of. (Or even themselves, but that's a longer tangent for another time.)

Another idea might be to think more on the grey area that many people of minority status must navigate, where they have to determine what are their true limitations vs what appear to be their limitations. And where those limitations are coming from, internally or externally or both. This can apply to anyone, obviously, but people who could broadly be considered minorities experience this constantly.

Hope this helps! I'm an artist and I realize that sometimes you have to start broadly before you can find your focus. Good luck with your assignment.

message 14: by Misha (last edited Nov 09, 2014 12:19AM) (new)

Misha (smallproblem) | 12 comments Thank you so much! This has been really helpful, and has definitely given me a lot of inspiration. I may not be able to work all of these ideas into the project I'm currently working on but they will probably trickle into later work.

I've been talking to my boyfriend, who has a set of learning disabilities of his own. For this specific project I'm probably going to be working specifically with him, trying to work out a visual representation of his experience, which definitely narrows down the scope a lot.

But... I'll also be drawing an african-american drag queen. Just for fun. 'Cause there is just no way I can not do it now that image is in my head.

I'll also be thinking about visual representations of the concepts Jaime raised.

And tracking that book movement, it looks really cool!

I hope this discussion will continue as a sort of idea board for how diversity/inclusiveness should be portrayed, which is definitely relevant to the group.

message 15: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Hehehe, it just popped into my head at the time ;)

I would like to add to Jaime's wonderful points. One thing I've noticed many times for the "normals" is lack of understanding the difference between sympathy and empathy. I can sympathize with anyone dealing with a disability, but can't always directly empathize if they don't have the same disability as I do.

message 16: by Misha (new)

Misha (smallproblem) | 12 comments Part of the trouble with the 'sympathy' thing is that in my experience different people receive it differently. Some people want sympathy, some find it offensive. Some just don't care one way or the other. It's hard to know the appropriate response when different people want different things. I usually just ask directly in situations like this what people's preferences are, but even that is sometimes unintentionally uncomfortable. There are people who don't like to be reminded constantly of their disability or looked at differently. But then again there are others that prefer to have it out in the open.

Empathy is generally received better than sympathy, but you're right- it's also sometimes difficult to directly empathize.

I do think, though, that especially as authors, isn't it kind of part of our job to find ways to extrapolate how it might feel to be someone else?

message 17: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Sure, but when I can't directly empathize, my writing is crap.


message 18: by Jaime (new)

Jaime (jaimeisbionic) | 2 comments I agree that empathy and sympathy can be tricky, Misha, and that empathy is usually received better because we want to feel connected. However, if we're aiming for empathy sometimes we just alienate the person we're speaking to by accidentally downplaying or dismissing their experience. I would much rather hear, "that sucks, I'm sorry you're dealing with that" than someone saying, "oh I hear you, I was sick and vomited once in a Target and everyone was staring at me and they called an ambulance. Awkward, right?"

We need to be careful not to presume to know what it's like to be other people. Playing soccer for 12 years did not make me Mia Hamm. Choosing to be vegan and having diet restrictions is not the same as having Crohn's Disease. Etc.

When it comes to art and writing, I'm inclined to think that Lily's personal statement actually applies broadly. What stems from genuine connection shines light in both directions, what stems from attempted or presumed connection only highlights the gap.

Which is not to say I think giving up on a connection where there isn't true empathy is the appropriate thing to do. (Hence saying connection instead of empathy above.) Sympathy is powerful, too. Especially when both parties can acknowledge and accept that they don't intimately understand each other. They must rely on their kindness and their words to create a connection.

Not sure how sympathy translates to writing or art. Empathy is more apparent (see above, light in both directions). Thoughts?

message 19: by Lily (new)

Lily Vagabond (lilyauthor) Connection, I like that, it's a much better word. We might not be able to all relate, we might not be sympathetic, but we are all connected, in one way or another.

Perhap using connection as a artistic concept might be a better way to go.

On a personal note, I can't stand fake empathy. Once had an acquantance tell me she knows exactly what I deal with because, as she proudly stated, she has post partum depression.

That awkward moment...

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