Witness to someone else’s experience

Week 6 Discussion: Who Speaks?

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Last week, Carolyn Forche talked about the challenges of being a witness to someone else’s experience, and this week, Gayatri Spivak talked about the challenges that people (particularly from less privileged backgrounds) can have speaking for themselves. We’ve also heard some insights from people like Studs Terkel and Luis Alberto Urrea who have interviewed working-class citizens and immigrants in order to highlight their stories. Given all of these complexities, what do you think is the best way for people to learn about the backgrounds of lesser resourced communities? Is it best for people with higher social standing–and therefore connections to publishing industry, etc.–to try to speak for them? Or, is it better for them to try to speak up for themselves? And if so, how? Moreover, how might your responses to these questions be impacted by the pandemic and/or protests related to the deaths of George Floyd and others at the hands of police? What happens when things like health risks, economic limitations, and/or fear of safety prevent some community members of color, for instance, from attending public gatherings to share their stories? How can such perspectives best be accessed and highlighted?

As your create your 200 word response, please be sure to include at least one quote/reference from our readings/videos this week