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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Why Storytelling is So Important for: Speeches, Breaking Down Stigma, and Civil Rights

Whenever I’m feeling particularly uninspired or low, one of my favorite activities is to read the biography of someone famous and look for the part of their life story where they struggled. I find that I learn a lot more from a person’s low points (mine included) than their highlight reel of achievements. 
“If that woman can overcome her paraplegia to become a famous painter by using her teeth, then holy cow, I can do anything.” 
“That guy lost his wife and daughter in a car accident, fell into tremendous grief, rebounded and eventually found love again and became the Vice President of the United States—then, snap, I can keep fighting on too.”
When people give of themselves through the telling of their stories it makes the impossible in our lives tangible and attainable. 

Stories Break Down Stigma

The world becomes smaller. “That black guy,” “that lesbian-chick,” “that snarky-writer-guy who talks about suicide;” they all now have a name. David. Jamie. Josh. Each of these people has wants and needs, to live, to love, to survive and thrive… just like every other human being. 
Each person’s story displays its own beauty and with each the storyteller has the opportunity to uncover a piece of themselves—and by doing so they allow us to peel back and examine a layer of our own soul.

Stories are a Demand for our Civil rights. 

Once stigma is broken down because of the courage of the “abnormal” person telling their story, they are now viewed as a human being—they now have a seat at the proverbial table of equality. Jim Crow is repealed. Women’s suffrage is enacted. Mental health laws are passed that empower and aid people with illnesses rather than traumatizing or criminalizing them.

That’s the kind of world that I want to live in.