Deborah Santana: Identifying What Sings in Us
By Evan J. Cutts
For empowering any group of people, the power of using inclusion and storytelling cannot be overemphasized. All the Women in My Family Sing, the new anthology of essays penned by women of color and edited by Deborah Santana, celebrates these themes, with experiences like cultural identity, family, social justice, and more.
“I dreamed the title for the anthology fifteen years ago, when I was preparing to write my second memoir, thinking of my family–particularly the women of my family,” shares Santana. “Three years ago, my friend Chris Bronstein, owner of Nothing But The Truth— an independent women’s publishing company—invited me to be the editor and co-publisher of the project. I chose that title because it moves beyond physical characteristics and identifies what sings inside of us.”
All the Women in My Family Sing challenges the history of non-inclusivity in publishing and is a call to action to foster inclusivity and share diversity, through the experiences of women of color. From the commissioning of Favianna Rodriguez for the cover art to building her editorial team, Santana intentionally included women of color at each level of the project.
“As the editor, I bore the mantle of responsibility to look at, not only the words and intent of our contributors but to the book’s call to action, to invite all women of color into every process of the publication,” Santana explains.
One of the rewards and challenges of Santana’s role was navigating the overwhelming number of responses from women of color from all parts of the globe and walks of life.
“When we started out, we didn’t expect the project to be so well received. Three years ago was a different world; Barack Obama was president, and the #MeToo movement was not as widespread and honored as it is now.”
Contributors to All the Women in My Family Sing include: indigenous anthropologist Blaire Topash-Caldwell; transgender recording artist and CEO of THEJAMFAM, Mila Jam; award-winning television and radio journalist Dr. Belva Davis; sixty-five-year-old Cambodian survivor of the 1970’s killing fields, Tammy Thea; and many more inspiring and empowering status-quo-challenging voices.
So many voices are still to be heard. “With the positive response we had, I would love to publish a second anthology,” Santana reveals. “There’s space for the voices of women athletes and scientists, transgender women, indigenous women, and so many others.”