Charlotte joined the INCLUDAS team from May 2021 and is the Blog Writer and Interview intern. We are so excited to have her with us!
Tell us about yourself.
My friends say I’m a very good listener. It’s true because I really am open to hearing many perspectives. I’ve never really been a talkative person, so I’ve just embraced being quiet and hearing other people’s stories. And when I listen, I really listen because my disability—being born deaf in my right ear—really has influenced how I go through the world. People often assume I’m able-bodied and overreact when I tell them about my disability. But it’s made me more dependent on my inner self because the external world is not necessarily made for me.
What makes you proud of yourself, and what are your aspirations?
Being confident in myself. I grew up very quiet, very introverted, very unsure of myself, always overthinking. And I still do that, but I have gotten better at advocating for myself and sharing my voice. I’ve had situations where everyone else talked over me, and I felt like I couldn’t speak on what I believe in, so I think I’ve really grown in the past few years. That’s happened as I’ve gotten into college and gotten older, so I’m proud of myself for not being as quiet as I used to be.
As for my aspirations, I want to get into every department of publishing because I think it is important to learn about all of it since they all kind of flow into each other. I also want to continue to enforce diversity in my college space through publishing, specifically since it is a major and industry dominated by able-bodied cis white women. So through college, I’m learning about how I can be part of a good change in the industry and hopefully applying that to my job in the future or in possibly creating a publishing house of my own that enforces those values.
Why are you interested in working in publishing?
I love books specifically as an art medium because it is something that you, the individual, get to interpret in any way you want. And everyone interprets books differently, and so working in publishing, I get to be part of the process. I just love storytelling and having the ability to share stories in the best light. I love books in general, and I read all the time, and I couldn’t imagine not reading or not being a part of that process.
Why is disability diversity in stories important to you?
It’s a taboo topic, even though a lot of people have to deal with some type of a disability, whether it’s more physical or if it’s invisible. And it’s an intersectional issue. It can happen to anyone of any race, gender, or nationality, so it’s a universal experience that isn’t talked about enough in the media and amongst friends and family.
Personally, I would love to see more Indian American or mixed Indian characters with disabilities. They don’t necessarily have to be deaf, but just like I want more, I’m always looking for more South Asian representation and ways that make them more intersectional. It’d be nice to have characters that are more like me.
What’s the most fulfilling part about being on the INCLUDAS team?
I think so far, the most fulfilling thing about being part of INCLUDAS is that I’m learning so much information, absorbing it like a sponge, and getting to write about it through the eyes of children and young characters. Learning about disabilities while also learning to teach others, specifically an audience of teachers and parents, how to approach disabilities and to not be afraid of the topic of inclusion is fun. Children are super smart and get things quick, and they can help lead us to a more inclusive world. I also appreciate knowing that I’m making a change by promoting disability diversity in an industry that I love! The books INCLUDAS publishes are wonderful and important, and it’s an honor to be able to love the work I do to influence others.
Any advice for those wanting to work in the publishing industry?
What I’ve learned so far is to go with my gut. Follow publishers that share your values. I think following that part of yourself will lead to more fulfilling experiences in the long run.