New Narratives: What role do stories play in undoing racism and advancing justice?

Stories hold tremendous power in our world, work, and lives. As writer Chimamanda Adichie has said: “Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.” We encourage you to watch (or rewatch) the first five minutes of Adichie’s talk “The Danger of the Single Story,” and to note your reactions and reflections. What single stories have you held or heard in your food systems work/volunteerism/studies?

At Food Solutions New England, we have benefitted from the work of The Storytelling Project, which identifies different kinds of stories that have been told to advance or prevent justice: stock stories (maintain the unjust status quo), concealed stories (accounts of those who are marginalized and oppressed), resistance stories (stories of anti-racist struggles which also have lessons about resilience), and counter-stories (ways to interrupt the status quo and create transformational alternatives). For more about these different kinds of stories, see pages 7-9 of The Storytelling Curriculum.

Reflect on the stories that circulate in your work, studies or community life related to food and food systems. Who and what do these stories promote and privilege? Are they advancing justice? Are they uplifting those who are marginalized? Are they inspiring new possibilities for equity and liberation?

Extra: Take time to reflect on these same questions about the stories that you have been told, tell, and re-tell.  More great resources are available from the recent Racism Issue of the Journal of the Communications Network.