When I founded a nonprofit to “amplify unheard voices” a little over two years ago, I never could have imagined the election of 2016. I believed deeply in the power of self-expression, and beyond that, in the power of engaged public expression. That’s what made Shout Mouse different – that by not just writing for ourselves, but by creating BOOKS we could provide a platform for marginalized voices to be valued and taken seriously. I knew that was imperative both for the authors themselves as well as for their readers, who may not have encountered these perspectives before.
Given the current political climate and rise of hate crimes in response, the dual missions of our work – to empower the marginalized and to expand empathy –could not be more relevant, or more urgent, today.
To be clear, we are not a partisan organization and in fact ardently support the need for ALL unheard voices to be heard. Dialogue is an instrument of peace. It’s clear that feeling powerless and denigrated is a recipe for cynicism, extremism, and anger. However, our work will never seek to validate voices that foment fear and division, that foster hate, that threaten violence.
We wanted to let you know how we are actively engaging in positive change, and how you can step up and be a part of it:
We keep changing the story. We are releasing four affirming, empowering new children’s books by the teens of Reach Incorporated this week. We continue to counteract negative messages about people of color in the country with positive counter-narratives.
- Step up: Reach book launch is Thursday evening in DC. Books go on-sale online Friday at 9 a.m. Consider purchasing books for your own children, your schools, your local Little Free Libraries. You can combat stories of division with stories of inclusion.
We amplify diverse voices. Our books act as much-needed windows into other perspectives. Our society is often all too segregated and silo-ed; we do not understand each other because we do not know each other. Books immerse us into other worlds. We are doubling down on efforts to amplify these voices as powerful tools of empathy.
- Step up: Become a megaphone. Share our social media posts and emails with friends and family, and connect us to educators and community leaders. Sign up here (if you have not already), and stay tuned for emails soon with action plans and content to share.
We pass the megaphone. In addition to our work supporting the voices of black teenagers in times of racial conflict, we are actively seeking a new nonprofit partner that serves a community under increased assault. In 2017, we are focusing priorities on a book project that provides a platform for Immigrants, Refugees, and/or Muslims in this country, and any intersections thereof, to speak for themselves. We are committed to building a diverse catalog of mission-driven books that empower, educate, and expand empathy.
- Step up: Help us make connections to relevant organizations, especially those with whom you have direct knowledge or relationship. We will be evaluating new partnerships on a number of criteria and need to find the right fit. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org directly.
We will to continue to fight for an outlet for diverse voices. Thank you for supporting us in that mission.
– Kathy Crutcher, Founder