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'Writing on Diversity': Taking up stories against intolerance

Devina Heriyanto
Devina Heriyanto

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Sat, March 31, 2018 | 07:48 am
'Writing on Diversity': Taking up stories against intolerance

A small gathering with alumni of The Jakarta Post Writing Center and TheJakartaPost.com community writers as the audience, the discussion focused on how writers can employ diversity to help counter rising intolerance. (JP/Bayu Widhiatmoko)

"We should not be afraid of the consequences. Everything we put out there is being scrutinized, used to humiliate us," said Devi Asmarani, chief editor of feminist publication Magdalene, about how more people should speak out and voice their stories to counter intolerance.

Devi was a member of the speaker panel at "Writing on Diversity", an event hosted by The Jakarta Post and The Jakarta Post Writing Center in partnership with Raffles Hotel Jakarta and British Council Indonesia. Along Devi were former chief editor of The Jakarta Post Endy Bayuni and British Council Indonesia country director Paul Smith.

This was the second writers' gathering, held on March 21 at The Writers' Bar, Raffles Hotel, South Jakarta. A small gathering with alumni of The Jakarta Post Writing Center and TheJakartaPost.com community writers as the audience, the discussion focused on how writers can employ diversity to help counter rising intolerance.

"[Diversity] is far easier to pronounce than acted upon, and has created a serious rift in the fabric of our global society. We want to address this issue in the context of why 'diversity' is the very thing that makes us human. And we often wonder why something that is inherent to our identity is so hard to understand," says Maggie Tiojakin, managing director of The Jakarta Post Writing Center.

Read also: Jakarta Post Writers' Gathering aims at cultivating new writers

Diversity can be problematic indeed, according to a participant. Kevin Tiganna, a political analyst who is also an alumnus of the Writing Center, talked about the difficulties he faced when holding an event about diversity, saying that the very word "diversity" itself often held back the people who needed to be reached out to the most.

Another participant questioned how writers should approach diversity, as many were wondering whether they had the authority to do so. Paul Smith from British Council Indonesia stated that there was no definite approach as "diversity needs diverse approaches and diverse views".

One thing all participants agreed on was the need for diversity among the writing community itself. Devi encouraged all people to share their experiences, no matter how uncomfortable.

Endy Bayuni, on the other hand, emphasized the importance of diversity in the newsroom, as the media should also reflect the society it reported on. (asw)

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