About

What we do

Empathize-This

 

Empathize This is a place where people can tell their own stories about how prejudice and hardship affect their lives. We recognize that people are made up of different intersecting identities, and that no single story will be representative of how a certain prejudice affects people. This is why we want all kinds of stories, and they can be as minor or as major as you want – it’s up to you, and we think it’s important to have both.

We are NOT trying to create a definitive account of what it’s like to be (insert minority here). Instead, we want to show how there are a variety of ways that people react to different prejudices and past experiences. We want to try to get people to think about the consequence of various societal and personal actions.

Comics

We believe that a visual element helps some people understand a story better. We believe having the comic with the story can help drive the narrative’s point home.

The comics are written with you – typically we come up with an idea for the comic, based on the story you submit. We then hand the idea over to you, and see if the idea captures your story faithfully. If there are no edits and you are happy with it, we send it to our illustrator.

If in addition to the story, you have an idea for a comic narrative (or if you want to illustrate it yourself), let us know! We’ll let you know if it’s within our budget/time constraints and if there are any changes we’d require, but we will work with you to the best of our ability to make something happen.

Comment Moderation

The goal of this site is to provide a platform for marginalized people. As such, there is a general non-tolerance policy towards comments that attack the validity of an experience.

History

We started working on this site in December 2012. After months of planning and preparation, we launched on April 29, 2013.  In November 2013, we sadly had to say goodbye to Brian, our illustrator. Jacelyn illustrating the comics from then until April 2015. In Summer 2015 we expanded to keep up with story submissions, and brought on board Devin Parker and Dallas Conte to illustrate comics.

People

Tak – writes the comic, edits, writes

Caitlin Jung – edits, writes

Meaghan – edits

Julia Naves – Illustrator. You can check out more of her stuff here.

Dallas Conte – Illustrator. You can check out more of her stuff here.

Devin Parker – Illustrator. You can check out more of his stuff here.

Jacelyn McLenaghan – illustrates the comic. You can check out more of her stuff here.

Brian Lamey – Was our original illustrator. You can check out more of his stuff here.

Issues We’d Like to Address in The Future

We also recognize that many features of this website perpetuate certain privileges:

  • Our website is exclusively in English, and not everyone speaks English.
  • The comic visual is inherently geared towards the seeing.
  • We are web based, and not everyone has access to the internet.

Our goal is to mitigate these issues as best we can as we grow. If you notice any systemic issues we’ve missed, let us know.

FAQs

About Us

I’d Like to Crosspost/Share a Comic on my Website.

We encourage sharing! You must meet the following conditions in order to re-post:

1 – If you’re a blog/website with no ads and no revenue: First, contact us! In some cases we may not be able to give you permission due to other contractual obligations, so please ask first (it’s usually ok though).

2 – If you have ads on your site or make any revenue on the website, we require a republishing fee. Please contact us for more info.

3 – If you want to print and distribute: Generally speaking, you can’t. But we could make exceptions, so please contact us.

In all instances, you cannot charge people for seeing the comic, and all comics must be presented unaltered. If you have any questions, just contact us – we’re pretty flexible.

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Why do you have such a strict commenting policy? What about free speech?

We are aware that unregulated comments can create spaces that are not safe for everyone, particularly those who are brave enough to submit their experiences. We want to encourage an understanding atmosphere where readers can, however briefly, empathize with the experiences of the writer. Comments which threaten that safety – including sexist, misogynist, racist, able-ist, homophobic, transphobic, or any language evocative of hate and/or prejudice, as well as comments that derail the conversation – will be removed.

The concept of free speech is there to ensure that your government does not silence you. It doesn’t mean we have to host hateful speech. Or as XKCD explained it:

free_speech

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Why the comics?

We believe that a visual element helps some people understand a story better. We believe having the comic with the story can help drive the narrative’s point home.

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I smell appropriation…

This is our worry too. This is why none of the stories (unless they are our own experiences) are written by the editors of this site. We also don’t make any profitfrom running this website.

We also don’t act as authorities on any of the stories/topics. This is why we generally don’t respond to comments on our site – we are fully aware that although the story is posted on our site, we are not part of the community that the story is about. Each story is a safe space for that community, and often it’s not our place to speak.

Our hope is that Empathize This can be another avenue for marginalized people to speak out. At the same time, we hope it shows that all the issues are incredibly complex, and can’t be captured neatly in any single story.

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I feel like you’re putting up lived experience as digestible pieces of entertainment…

When we get questions like this we’re actually very pleased, because it means others are just as worried as we are about appropriating the experiences of others.

The goal of this site is not to position personal stories as entertainment, but rather as a safe space to share experiences. The point is to be non-exploitative: all stories are shared voluntarily, and the author has approval over every step of the story/ comic process right up until it’s published. Our hope is that this project will create a space for people to speak – particularly people who aren’t already comfortable with the language often used in activist circles – and that this way we might in some small way help bridge the gap between the in-crowd of social activism and the so-called “mainstream” which doesn’t always understand why these issues matter.

At the same time, we think the site is a tool for those with lived experiences to share their stories within their community. The comics are a communication device that can be easily shared by the authors to discuss issues that are important to them. By talking about a form of marginalization that isn’t often discussed, it gives the author (and those who might share it), a way to succinctly highlight a shared experience with others. We hope that this can lead to mobilization and discussions of solutions within that community.

In short, we’re trying to provide a space for those who might not want to maintain a blog, but have something important to say.

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Do you profit off of this website?

No.  Emphatically, decisively, no.  This is strictly a non-profit endeavor, and we are committed to avoiding money-making strategies such as placing ads on our website (you can read more about our policy here).  We do ask for donations to assist in our operation of the site, as there are some costs associated with the production of each comic and story. But none of this is profit, and the co-editors of the site manage it completely on their own time

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I’ve read some of your postings and I disagree with something that’s been said.

If you disagree with something that’s been said, you are welcome to submit a constructive comment, as long as it does not attack any person or group. If you feel that something we have posted encourages hate and/or discrimination, please let us know.

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Some of the stories don’t recognize their own privilege.

We believe in the contributor telling their own story, and we do not interfere with it as much as possible. If this means that a contributor does not recognize/acknowledge/check their own privileges, we don’t change it (so long as it isn’t blatantly prejudiced). The intersectionality of identities almost guarantees that everyone is privileged in some way – but this does not mean that a person’s experience facing prejudice is any less valid.

At the same time, we invite constructive discussion on our site, and we encourage you to share stories that highlight privileges in others.

 

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I don’t believe everyone who contributes here is as underprivileged as I am!

If that’s the case, then we invite you to submit your story to us! We are aware that some marginalized experiences are more harmful and/or pervasive than others, but our goal is to give readers a sense of the kinds of hardships – all of which are valid – that a variety of people face.

We are not ordering or hierarchizing anyone’s experiences, but sharing the many ways that marginalization/discrimination can change the way people experience the world.

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I smell tokenism…

Many of the contributors have chosen to identify themselves as a certain group in order to tell their stories. Their stories tell us the effects of tokenism, and what it’s like to be treated as a caricature of a group they identify as. However, we do not think that any of the stories are definitive of any group, or even definitive of the contributor.

Everyone is much more complex than all of our stories combined. We are trying to shed a small light on this complexity. At the same time, we recognize that the project can come across as tokenistic.

Our hope is that as we grow, this concern will be alleviated by the sheer variety of stories. We also never force an identity upon any of our contributors, and all posts are tagged by the contributors themselves.

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Submit a story!