Upholding Narratives

A reminder of the power of storytelling, in times like these

In last week’s newsletter, we started to unpack the coordinated efforts to demonize DEI and CRT by shifting the focus away from its initial focus: addressing systemic inequities, acknowledging history, and helping folks understand the complexities of race and power dynamics.

As these conversations drone on, it’s important that we’re just as vocal, continuing to highlight stories from historically excluded communities. Those narratives can not only serve as tools for empowerment but also play a key role in shaping understanding, fostering empathy, and driving meaningful change.

Okay, But Do You Get Where I’m Coming From?

Storytelling has always been a critical part of the human experience. From the oral traditions passed down through generations to contemporary literature, music, and film, storytelling has served as a means of preserving history, culture, and identity. It provides a platform for voices that have been silenced for way too long. We’re able to assert our agency through sharing our experiences, ensuring there’s more than one point of view being heard. 

Let’s circle back to DEI and CRT for a quick example. These initiatives aren’t abstract concepts – they’re deeply rooted in the lived experiences of marginalized individuals and fueled by personal narratives and real-life examples. 

Stories have the power to humanize experiences that may otherwise be reduced to statistics or academic theories. By silencing often excluded voices, we risk missing opportunities to invite others to engage in meaningful dialogue about race, privilege, and the role new programs can play in addressing them.

Power to the Poster

As a digital communications consultant, I’ve always viewed storytelling as a tool for self-empowerment and transformative change.

History has shown that movements often begin with the exchange of stories, whether through literature, art, or grassroots organizing. In today’s social media age, we can mobilize even faster, galvanizing people to challenge oppressive structures and advocate for systemic reforms through the click of a button.

The low barrier of entry into digital storytelling empowers folks to become agents of change within their own communities and (through the power of the World Wide Web) beyond.

As Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II once said, "When you change the narrator, you change the narrative." In the face of efforts to undermine DEI and CRT, storytelling becomes an act of resistance. Our voices challenge dominant narratives that seek to maintain the status quo, allowing us to reclaim ownership of narratives rooted in people’s real, lived experiences and demand recognition of their humanity and dignity.

The Takeaway

Stories don’t just preserve cultural heritage and personal histories – they also illuminate the realities of systemic racism and the pressing need for sustainable solutions. With a simple ‘repost,’ we all have the opportunity to contribute to the greater collective voice, bringing awareness to stories that would otherwise be silenced. When RTing isn’t enough, we can also choose to: 

  • Make bold, declarative, public statements that take a clear stance on a social justice issues

  • Shift power dynamics by not just promoting the stories of marginalized individuals but also promoting them to decision-making positions 

  • Contribute $$$ to organizations advocating and seeking protections for DEI and CRT initiatives nationwide 

By staying the course and continuing to elevate the stories and profiles of historically excluded people, we can foster empathy across racial divides, challenge dominant narratives, and mobilize for social change. How will you use your platform? 

I’m taking a quick break so I’ll be back on May 2nd. See you soon!