Consider the world you live in. Your cultural experiences, likes, dislikes, fears, and even biases are based on your community. As an author writing about another culture, how can you best represent a group of people who are not like you? One way is through help from a sensitivity reader. Without a sensitivity reader, the likelihood of authentic representation significantly dwindles. Why? Because from the outside looking in, it’s unlikely that you as the author would understand the complete experience of what it means to be a part of a marginalized community.
The role of a sensitivity reader is not censorship but to assist the author in creating an accurate portrayal of a marginalized community. My desire is to open doors of communication between ethnic and non-ethnic writers in a safe environment to learn and ask questions.
I was inspired to create Sensitivity Between the Lines (Sensitivity BTL) because my passion is to see people from marginalized communities represented well in manuscripts and by the publishing industry.
So, what is Sensitivity BTL?
The purpose is to help connect writers with professional sensitivity readers in an environment that brings both together and assists in strengthening writers’ understanding and authenticity in their manuscript concerning a marginalized community.
The goal is to connect writers with readers from marginalized communities and allow writers to obtain a more accurate depiction of individuals/communities outside of their own.
Sensitivity BTL is designed to give authors the needed assistance to write with genuineness in their manuscripts concerning diversity in order to honor and respect the marginalized communities.
What can writers expect? A reader thoroughly reviews the material for bias, stereotypes, offensiveness, lack of understanding, etc., and offers the author their thoughts for solutions to possible problem areas within a manuscript. The objective is to review text for authentic portrayal of a marginalized community, not to edit a manuscript for clarity and logic. They’re there to help the writer achieve authenticity, but there’s no guarantee a reader will catch everything.
Sensitivity readers allow the writer to enter their world and offer ways to represent their communities with accuracy. They are paid for their expertise.
The question may be asked, who needs a sensitivity reader? Anyone who writes outside of their own community. I believe this shouldn’t be optional for writers who choose to write with diversity.
To learn more about Sensitivity Between the Lines, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One final thought:
If your story were the only one people read about a marginalized community, what kind of impact would you have on that community?