Do you have a question about Identity Stories? See if your question is answered here.
What is Identity Stories?
Identity Stories is a collaborative blog series launched in April, 2019. The mission is to share diverse, personal stories about identity to lessen the danger of a single story.
There are two goals:
- To amplify the voices of others by providing a safe place for people to share their own experiences, thoughts and feelings about their own identity, without fear of repercussion
- To foster empathy and tolerance for others by providing a collection of diverse stories linked to identity to raise awareness of the different experiences, thoughts and feelings of others, that might otherwise be unknown to readers
To learn more about Identity Stories, read the Call for Collaboration or the blogs in the series.
What is “identity”?
“Identity” could refer to a number of things, including: gender, ableness, age, race and ethnicity, social class, mental health, and sexual orientation. It could also include educational background, job title or function, immigration status, family matters, physical appearance, personality traits, and more. In short, anything that could complete the sentence, “I am…” could be considered part of your identity.
You can read a more detailed description in the Call for Collaboration.
What does it mean to “lessen the danger of a single story”?
The phrase “lessen the danger of a single story” comes from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk, “The danger of a single story”. It’s a very powerful talk that I highly recommend watching. In a nutshell, Chimamanda uses her personal experience to demonstrate how dangerous and harmful it can be to base all your views and opinions of a person or country on a single experience that you hold, or a single narrative that you believe to be true.
To oversimplify the concept, it would be like tasting one piece of cake in your entire life and deciding that you dislike all the world’s cake. If we were talking about Cake Stories, we would lessen the danger of a single taste by introducing you to lots of other different kinds of cake with different ingredients, perhaps paired with other elements like cream or sorbet, to help you understand that “cake” is much more than the single bite you first experienced. When you discover other tastes and possibilities, you can develop a deeper understanding and a new appreciation for cake and its many variations.
Who is behind Identity Stories?
The goal is for Identity Stories to be a collaboration between a potentially unlimited number of people who choose to share their stories through the series’ platform. Unless a writer has asked to remain anonymous, their name will appear against their published story. The creator, editor and publisher of the Identity Stories series is Cassandra H. Leung, the private owner and operator of www.cassandrahl.com . Learn about Cassandra.
How can I support Identity Stories?
You can support Identity Stories by sharing the Call for Collaboration and letting people know about this initiative. Be sure to share the blog posts too, once published.
Is there any criteria for who can submit a story?
No. As long as the story relates to your own identity and is not a commentary on someone else’s identity, you can submit it. If you’re not sure whether your story is suitable for Identity Stories, you can either submit it anyway or get in touch to discuss it.
I don’t consider myself to be in a minority or underrepresented group. Can I still submit a story about my own identity?
Yes! There is no criteria for who can submit a story about their own identity.
I’m not a tester / I don’t work in technology. Can I still submit a story?
Yes! There is no criteria for who can submit a story about their own identity.
Can I submit a positive story about my identity?
Yes! When we think about identity and diversity, it can be natural for our minds to jump to negative topics, since these discussions are often dominated by issues of oppression and discrimination. However, identity can also be a very positive thing. For example, going on a journey of self-discovery, becoming the first person in a low-income family to go to university, or learning to accept and love yourself. These are examples of uplifting stories about identity that we would love to include in Identity Stories.
Are people paid to write Identity Stories?
No. There is no remuneration or financial incentive for collaborating on, or supporting Identity Stories. The editor / publisher also does not make any financial gain as a direct result of the Identity Stories series.
I don’t agree with a story that’s been published. How do I get it taken down?
Reading stories that you don’t necessarily agree with or can relate to is kind of the point in Identity Stories. One of the main goals is to foster empathy and tolerance for others by providing a collection of diverse stories as a means to raise awareness of the different experiences, thoughts and feelings of others. So, if you don’t agree with the content of a story, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
However, if you have reason to believe that a story is in breach of the Conditions of Collaboration, by way of being fabricated or having the whole or part purpose of being deliberately offensive or abusive, please get in touch with specific details of your concerns.
Submitting Your Story
How do I submit my story?
Before submitting your story, please make sure you understand and agree to all Conditions of Collaboration, and familiarise yourself with the information on this page. Once you’ve done that, submit your story via the submission form, where you have the option to submit anonymously. Stories submitted by any other means will not be accepted.
Can I submit more than one story?
Yes. There is no limit to how many submissions you can make to Identity Stories.
Why does the submission form ask me to describe my identity?
Context is very important in helping readers to understand your story and perspective. Since Identity Stories is all about stories and perspectives related to identity, it makes sense to know a bit about the identities of the writers. Providing this information upfront also removes the need to awkwardly insert this information somewhere within your story. There are currently no rules or guidelines about how much, or which parts of your identity you can share; that’s up to you.
Do I literally have to submit a story, or are other formats also accepted?
“Story” is just a term that seemed to work when creating this series, but it’s used loosely. Feel free to get creative with the format, and choose one that suits you, and what you want to say, best. Ideas for formats include:
- First person narrative
- Third person narrative
- Script / screenplay
- Diary entry style
- Interview (the editor can help you with this)
- Collaboration with another writer(s) who shares an element of your identity, but has a different view or experience of that identity
Whichever format you choose, make sure that the content of your story is factual and accurately represents real events, and your perspective. Be careful not to confuse creative writing techniques with fictional content.
Read the Conditions of Collaboration for specific terms on submission content.
How long should my story be?
There are no specific rules about how long a story should be. However, it might help to aim for something that can be read in around 5-10 minutes. The editor can help you make your story more concise, or suggest sections that would benefit from having more details.
How do I submit a story with more than one writer?
If your story has more than one writer, you’ll need to pick a “lead writer” to be the owner of the submission. There are then two things to consider:
- If you provide a contact email address, it should be the one owned by the lead writer, since the owner of the contact email address provided is automatically the submission owner. The email address you provide here will be the one used for communication and editing, and is the only email address from which a submission withdrawal can be requested.
- You can enter multiple names in the “Your Name” and “Display Name” fields of the submission form, and should enter the lead writer’s name first. Separate additional names with commas.
If you’d like other email addresses to be included in communication and editing, you can request this is in writing, either in the “Additional Comments” section of the submission form, or once the lead writer is in direct contact with the editor.
How do I include images in my submission?
Images cannot be included directly in the submission form. If you’d like to include images in your story (e.g., a screenshot of something relevant to your story, or a .gif illustrating your reaction to something), please include a link to the image address instead. If the image is already available online, you can usually access the URL by right-clicking on the image and selecting “Copy Image Address”.
Ideas and Editing
I have an idea for a story, but I don’t know how to form it. Can I still submit it?
Yes! Enter the details of your idea in the “Your Story” field, then be sure to provide a contact email address and select the option “Yes, I’d like help turning my idea into a fully formed story” in the “Editing Preferences” section.
I’m not much of a writer but I want to share my story. What are my options?
Please don’t let your writing skills hold you back from sharing your story! Your perspective and message are the important parts; the editor can help with the rest. Every selected story will be edited with or without the writer, but for the best results, please provide a contact email address and select the option “Yes, I’d like to be involved in the editing process” in the “Editing Preferences” section of the submission form.
I don’t want to provide a contact email address or be involved in the editing process. How can I be sure that the editor won’t completely change my story?
If you don’t provide a contact email address, or ask to not be involved in the editing process, all changes (large or small) will be left to the editor. Every reasonable effort will be made to not fundamentally change the meaning, intent, or other semantics of the story. If the meaning of a particular section is unclear to the point of not knowing whether alteration or removal would fundamentally change the narrative, it will be left unchanged with a “[sic]” signifier.
Please be assured that the editor will never edit a story with the simple purpose of manipulating it to match their own perspective or experiences. This would completely go against the goals and founding values of Identity Stories.
I’m worried about potential consequences of sharing my story. Can I submit anonymously?
Yes. In the “Anonymity” section, you can choose what name is given to the editor, listed as the writer, or leave both blank to remain completely anonymous. This does not affect your ability to provide a contact email address or get editing help.
I’ve changed my mind about a story I’ve submitted. Can I withdraw my submission?
As long as you provide a contact email address in your initial submission, you can withdraw it at any time. For more details, read the Conditions of Collaboration.
Still can’t find the answer to your question? Get in touch.