#OwnVoices: Here’s Why We Need Representation in Literature

So, we know the battle for representation is a fierce one. The seemingly simple request that Muslim women (or any people of color) be the ones to tell their own stories to lend some semblance of authenticity to our narratives has somehow brought on more confusion than I can explain.

Muslim women tell their own stories? But, why?!

Sigh. Where to begin? When people of color are denied the opportunity to speak to their lived experiences in their own words, what we’re left with is an inauthentic rendition of a formerly nuanced and unique story. We are reduced to tired old stereotypes, and our narratives are diluted by being filtered through a lens that can never truly understand our lived experiences. People of color are NOT a monolith. Our experiences, even when they’re similar, are not the same, and we’re tired of seeing the same old stories regurgitated for the masses.

What Triggered #OwnVoices to Go Viral Last Week? 

#OwnVoices, a widely used hashtag that promotes the idea that marginalized people should — you guessed it — tell their own stories, was recently trending again, and for a rather unfortunate reason: the publication and promotion of American Dirt, a novel that exploits and distorts the experiences of Latinx immigrants.  Naturally, the Twitterverse talked back, and the hashtag #OwnVoices was flooded with immigrant stories written by those who actually lived the experiences described in the novel.

Why is #OwnVoices Non-Negotiable?

Amongst all of that, author Kharma Kelley penned a thoughtful explanation about why #OwnVoices was a necessary movement:

One Dose of Sarcasm, Coming Right Up!

And what better way to drive this point home than with some humor, courtesy of Twitter? To make our point, we have rounded up the funniest odes to tired old stereotypes we are tired of seeing in literature, all courtesy of the hashtags #OwnVoices and #DesiNovel.