Sentranced Saturday: Representation matters

sentranced (adj.): the state of being captivated by a well-written sentence.

Sentranced Saturday is a meme created here that encourages you to share a quote that left you entranced. It makes you think. Everyone is welcome to join in; link to this post so I can read what has left you sentranced

“You cannot be what you cannot see.”

– Hillary Clinton

I had the privilege of seeing Hillary Clinton speak last Fall while she was on her tour for “What Happened,” and this is something that she said during her speech that gave me chills. I wrote the line in my quotebook and largely forgot about it until I came across it recently.

Representation matters.

If you never see someone who looks like you in positions, it is hard to picture yourself there, to picture it as possible. Sally K. Ride was the first woman to join NASA in 1983 and I was able to grow up with a role model. I knew that if I worked hard (like the American Dream claims), I could become an astronaut too! For me not seeing female role models painted a very insidious and unconscious picture: this is something that a woman cannot do. Women belong doing these specific things that they have always done. Granted there has been a lot of progress on this front during my lifetime, which is great! I owe a lot to the women who came before me and broke those glass ceilings.

“You cannot be what you cannot see.” Biases are assumptions based on dominant cultural identity and they exist. Admitting that doesn’t make you a bad person because everyone has biases: they are internalized and unconscious assumptions that are informed by what you see. It is only after becoming aware of the implicit biases that you can work to change them for yourself and others… and increased diversity in media will help to break the status quo.

As a white cishet female I recognize that I still benefit from a lot of privilege and am only affected by a small fraction of this lack of representation. From the news cycle, to people in power, to the characters we read and watch, the subconscious bias formed from a lack of representation (and perhaps even more damaging is the negative representation: such as the only POC in a story is the villain or that marginalized groups always die) is harmful, strengthens the systems in place that continue to institutionalize inequality. We have to break that narrative. 

There’s been a lot of talk this week on Book Twitter about the importance of diversity in books and the importance of continuing to bring attention to and ask for books whose characters accurately reflect the population. Diversity in books has come a long way in the last 10 years but we have a long way to go before it is normalized. I always tag reviews as “diverse” because I know some readers want to see themselves positively in a story just like I have all my life.

I didn’t mean for this post to turn into my soapbox, but this topic is something I feel very strongly about and while I had this quote pre-planned for this week for awhile and then book twitter exploded and here we are. I am sorry that this is all over the place but I am really interested in your thoughts on this quote! Who is your role model? 

What do you think about this quote, and what quote do you want to share this week? 

I’ve decided that I may not continue posting a Sentranced Saturday quote every week. Sometimes I don’t have anything to say and the pressure of digging up something on occasion isn’t fun or meaningful to me. I created a meme homepage here that can be linked to for those that participate, and I will continue to join in when I have inspiration! For now my International Reader Interviews will be posted on Saturdays.


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12 thoughts on “Sentranced Saturday: Representation matters

  1. I love this post so much. Diversity in media is the only way to create better dialogue and understanding of different cultures, races, religions, ethnicities, etc. Without the portrayal of all the different kinds of people we share this planet with, we will not be able to work together to do good in this world.

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