Anti-oppression writer’s guidelines

The goal of these guidelines is to aid us all as we are learning to be interculturally inclusive and anti-oppressive in our thinking and language.

Before, during and after writing an article, here are some questions and guidelines to reflect on. 

Audience

Who am I envisioning when I write this article? Who you envision to be the intended audience shapes the article. Are you envisioning writing for people who share your cultural, ethnic or racial, language background or broader audiences. If a broader audience is intended, be sure to explain acronyms, your worldview, values, perceptions, norms and behaviors. At The Mennonite, our content reaches a variety of people from different backgrounds and cultural contexts. 

Story

Whose story am I writing? My own story? Someone else’s story? If it is someone else’s story, do I have permission to write their story? Did they contribute to writing the article? Did they read it before I submitted it?

Labeling

What labels have I chosen to use to identify people/groups in my article? Why? Is this how they self-identify?

Examples of ways of identifying:

  1. Hispanic, Latino(a), Latinx
  2. Black, African American, Caribbean American
  3. Arab, Syrian, Iraqi
  4. Asian, Korean, Asian American, Indian
  5. Queer, Gay, Transgender, Cis gender, heterosexual
  6. White, European, Caucasian
  7. Indigenous, Native, Native American, Cherokee, Lakota

Locating self and story

Locate yourself and your story/article. Do not assume that your audience knows the geographical location or cultural context and their implications. 

  1. E.g. “My congregation is in the Plains conference.” “Our church is a typical, Mennonite community”
  2. To give a fuller definition, use descriptors like, urban, rural or suburban.
  3. Identify the racial-ethnic makeup of your community.

Class Implications

Do not be afraid to situate and name the class implications of the article. 

  1. What assumptions are held about class and education?
    • E.g. I am writing this for the middle class educated person who grew up with a two-parent household, intact, with 1-3 siblings.
  2. Are the suggestions I provided relevant across class realities and barriers?
    • E.g.: All congregations can implement greener practices, such as putting on a green roof, solar panels, community gardens or composting program, only sourcing your food for community meals from organic providers, etc. How might access to these solutions be limited by class? 

Imagery

Images that accompany articles, both online and in print, are just as important for evoking emotion and a story as the words including in the piece itself. As you are writing, give some thought to images that come to mind that you think would represent or correlate with the theme of your article and the context you are writing about. 

Some questions to think about:

  1. How would an image provide framing for the context of your article? How would the images resonate with readers?
  2. Would the image(s) you think of have a different reception or evoke different feelings across cultural and socioeconomic lines? Do they convey a message that isolates certain people from connecting to your article?
  3. Does the image(s) you suggest accurately depict yourself, context and the content?
  4. Who or what is being centered in the image(s)?

General considerations before submission

  • Does my language exclude a group?
  • Did I explain my context?
  • Did I ask someone from a different context to review my article and incorporate any feedback? (The staff of The Mennonite can help with this, too!)
  • Who benefits from reading this article?
  • Who do I want to benefit from this article?
  • Whose words and stories am I using? Did I get permission and credit them appropriately?

These guidelines were developed by Janelle Junkin and Chantelle Todman Moore of Unlock Ngenuity for use by The Mennonite, Inc.