It’s been almost a year since I created Inside The Bell Jar, and in that time, we have published almost twenty short stories, poems and flash pieces. We have covered an array on mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder. Our writers have also spoken out about some tough issues, ranging from self-harm, suicide and guilt to identity struggles and toxic family dynamics. Overall, it would appear that Inside The Bell Jar has been pretty diverse. But have we?
As we go into our third quarter, we are once again receiving well over 200 submissions. Most are excellent, and we face some extremely difficult choices in who to take forward to the final table discussion. While we are delighted that Inside The Bell Jar has resonated well with writers from the mental health community, we are saddened by the lack of submissions from people of colour, and those from the LGBTQA+ communities.
When I created Inside The Bell Jar, it was my greatest ambition to build a community of raw voices that were unafraid to show and tell us what it means to live under or inside their own personal bell jars. I felt, and still feel that mental illness is a popular topic among YA authors currently, but for the most part, these stories are being told by straight, white, cisgender males and females, who write straight, white, cisgender characters, with people of colour forever being ‘used’ as a token character. Inside The Bell Jar aims to challenge this trope; we want to read stories by people of colour, about people of colour. We want transgender and lesbian characters, gay and asexual characters and we really would love it if the creators of those stories were using their own voice.
Talk of mental illness among communities of colour is challenging and accessing correct treatment via mental health services is difficult. According to the US HHS Office of Minority Health, adult Black/African Americans are more likely to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness than are adult whites. Furthermore, a study conducted by Ward, Wiltshire, Detry, and Brown in 2013 showed that “Black/African Americans hold beliefs related to stigma, psychological openness, and help-seeking, which in turn affects their coping behaviors. Generally speaking, the participants in this study were not very open to acknowledging psychological problems, but they were somewhat open to seek mental health services.”
This is why we are on a mission to publish stories and poetry by people of colour. And please make no mistake: this is not an empty promise. We are completely aware of the understandable lack of trust that people of colour have in publishers and editors, who use their minority status to make their journal, book or magazine appear ‘diverse’.
Please know that this could not be further from the truth with Inside The Bell Jar. Going into our second year, it is our hope that we become a fully diverse journal, featuring numerous submissions from people of colour and those from the LGBTQA+ community.
We are interested in your work, your perspectives, your voices and we want, more than anything, to share them with the world.
Please help us spread the word. Please share this message with your friends and family, but most of all, please share your stories with us.
Check out our Submissions Guide here, for full details on how to submit.
Latest posts by Inside The Bell Jar (see all)
- Want to Submit? - April 10, 2017
- Diversifying Inside The Bell Jar – A Call to LGBTQA+ and POC Writers - November 21, 2016
- Introducing Cathy’s Comps & Calls: A Home for Writers - October 15, 2016