Andrea Leary, Ph.D., Laurence Ross, and Cara Kossuth ’22 delivered a panel presentation, titled Dethroning the Royal “We”: Empowering Community Voices
, at the 2021 Conference on Community Writing, an event run by the Coalition for Community Writing, Boulder, CO, and hosted at The George Washington University, Washington DC.
The panel aimed to explore how community members who might otherwise have their voices overlooked—such as people with disabilities, local artists seeking to enlarge their audience, and elementary school students—can have their narratives amplified through the act of writing. Leary, Ross, and Kossuth referenced their community experiences and partnerships with The Arc Baltimore, BmoreArt, and the US Dream Academy as the basis for their presentation.
An excerpt from the panel abstract:
Writers often use the first-person plural, “we,” to lend gravity to their work, to suggest why the work matters. This “royal we” is meant to speak for all, to speak to our common human condition. But if the writer, the artist, the community member remains alone, how are they to know the “we”? Looking through the lens of the US Dream Academy, The Arc Baltimore, and BmoreArt, this panel hopes to explore how we all might empower and unite voices in our Baltimore community. The “we” should not come down like a royal decree, commanding adherence; the “we” should be made up of neighbors who learn each other’s passions, struggles, concerns, and joys; the “we” at its best might be a democratic voice that is able to uplift a community because it’s been participating all along.