FAQs

Submissions

What if my story is similar to something already posted?

No problem!  First off, every story is unique, and no matter what characteristics it may share with another individual’s experience, it will always be different because it is yours. Every nuance is different, and every shade of the experience you share adds to the story.

Secondly, when stories are similar we start to recognize that many of the experiences that might make us feel alone are, in fact, shared in some way by others.  This can be empowering and comforting, and at the very least it may serve to build, or add to, a community.  This is just as worthy as finding a new narrative or experience.  So we invite you to submit!

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How do the comics work?

Once you agree to the edits to the written portion of your story, we work on a webcomic style visual with you that will be published alongside your story. We try to faithfully reproduce the core message in the story, taking careful precautions. When the subject matter is traumatic, we refrain from visually reproducing that event – instead, we try to add a visual element to the story in other ways. We then hand the comic 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/limitations 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.

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I sent a story/email and you never replied…

We answer all emails (unless it’s spam), and we never leave any stories hanging halfway through. If it seems like we haven’t responded, it’s probably because we didn’t get the email for some technological reason…or it got sent to our spam folder. Please send us another email, or try us directly at info[at]empathizethis.com

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Who is your ideal writer?

There is no ideal writer! We want to hear from you!

There are experiences, however, which we are particularly interested to hear about. We are not, for example, interested in stories about how surprisingly hard life is for the socially and physically privileged. While everyone – that demographic included – has struggles and hardships, we are looking for stories about how the world is systemically different for those outside what is unfortunately considered the “norm”.

Having said that, many, if not most people occupy a number of different political spaces (race, religion, orientation, gender, abilities, socioeconomic status, the list goes on) so feeling privileged in one area doesn’t mean you don’t have an experience of disadvantage that others could learn from.

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I don’t know if my story fits what you’re looking for.

That’s ok!  Get in touch with us with a basic description of the story and we’ll start a conversation with you about it!  Generally speaking, we are looking for stories that show how you in some way experience the world differently – whether big or small – because of some part of your identity.

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Will my name be published with my story?

No.  Many of the stories on this site are extremely personal and we highly respect that it takes a certain kind of bravery to submit your experience to us.  It is our policy to preserve anonymity through the process.

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How do I submit a story?

You can get in touch with us by emailing us at info(at)empathizethis.com, or by submitting directly on our Your Story page.  For more information, check out our submission guidelines.

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I have a political opinion. Can I include this?

Yes…and No.  The purpose of the site is to reveal how the world is lived and experienced differently for marginalized people. Generally speaking, we ask our contributors to refrain from making statements about particular policies or politicians. That being said, in our experience the contributors have been able to make their opinions heard through their stories.

If you have something to say about a specific political issue, you can also ask us about contributing to our “Musings” section about the topic.

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I would like to submit a story but I’m not great with computers.

No problem!  We will find a way to work with you, whether over the phone,, or by assisting you to navigate email and/or Skype.  Just get in touch with us!

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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!