America's legacy of racial oppression and conditioning has embedded itself into the fabric of American society at every level. The consequences of this legacy are systemic and dire. The work of disentangling our communities and institutions from the blight of racism is vast and multi-dimensional.
How does sending in a story contribute to the elimination of racism?
Telling our personal stories is a first step that leads to systemic change. We start with the practice of identifying and paying attention to moments of cross-racial connection. On the surface these moments may appear insignificant or seem to have no long term implications. Because of conditioning and the way our brains function, we are more likely to absorb and recall instances of fear and misconnection when we reflect on our experiences with race, and that tendency shapes our view of the story of race in our lives. As we bring focus to moments of connection and recognize them as noteworthy, we begin to assign higher value to them and they become more in visible in our stories. This shift in value moves us from a consciousness of separateness, division and angst to one of connectedness, oneness and harmony, which causes us to seek out connection and try to behave in ways that facilitate it. We start experiencing the bounties of cross-racial connection. These relationships start to impact the choices we make in all areas of our lives. In our jobs, communities and families we make choices that reflect what we've learned and honor those we've connected with. As more and more people experience this transformative shift, their new beliefs have a direct impact on the operation and timbre of institutions and communities. The first step has to be taking note of something that we are trained not to even see - that we do connect, that it is natural, and that it is already part of our story. Eventually this perception will become a prominent feature in our collective race story.
The prevailing story of race in America is incomplete and characterized by misleading, inaccurate, frequently contradictory beliefs that result in continued separation and dysfunction. We’ve identified four ideas that are common in the current racial discourse. Our goal is to challenge these beliefs about race by telling personal stories that present an alternative message.
Share a story that challenges one of these prevailing ideas about race:
Distorted Message: Race is no longer a big issue in this country.
- We’ve moved beyond racism. We live in a post racial, color-blind society. Young people have figured it out.
- We shouldn’t focus so much attention on racism. Talking about race just makes things worse.
- Share a story that illustrates the impact of racism on your daily life and how you are dealing with it.
- Begin your story with: “My name is _______ and I believe that racism is still a problem”
- End your story with: “I’m _(name)_ and my story challenges the belief that race is no longer an issue in this country.”
Distorted Message: There is nothing to be gained by intentionally seeking out cross-racial relationships.
- We have nothing unique to offer each other.
- There’s no reason to go out of our way to intentionally form relationships with people who are different.
- We’re just not meant to be together. We’re basically incompatible.
- It’s not worth the effort. Building cross-racial friendships is too hard, too awkward and uncomfortable.
- Share a story that shows how a cross-racial relationship is of special value to you – for example, how that relationship is a unique source of power or personal growth in your life.
- Begin your story with: “My name is _____ and I believe that authentic cross-racial relationships are possible and valuable.”
- End your story with: “I’m _(name)_ and my story challenges the belief that we have nothing unique to offer each other.”
Distorted Message: Things are never going to change.
- It’s too hard to change. People don’t really want to change.
- We are inherently racist. There’s always been racism and there always will be.
- We only know how to hurt each other; we’ll never be able to trust each other. There’s too much pain and we have too much history.
- People aren’t up to the task. People are just too weary to keep trying. It’s too exhausting to make the effort. I’m sick of having to be the one who reaches out.
- Share a story of a time you surprised yourself in a racial situation, when you found yourself doing something unexpected or courageous; tell about a time when you showed up in a way that was different from what you might normally do, when you realized you were taking a risk, trusting, forgiving, reaching out even though you were tired.
- Begin your story with: “My name is _____ and I believe that we can change our behavior around race.”
- End your story with: “I’m _(name)_ and my story challenges the belief that it’s too hard to change.”
Distorted Message: We are defined and constrained by the stereotypes society imposes on us.
- Some people inherently have less value than others.
- That’s just the way they are. You can’t expect them to behave any differently.
- Share a story about being different from what society expects you to be, a story of a time you challenged a stereotype about your racial group, when you showed up in a way that defied people’s narrow idea of your reality.
- Begin your story with: “My name is _____ and I’m more than you might think I am.”
- End your story with: “I’m _(name)_ and my story challenges society’s stereotypes about people like me.”
How does your story challenge a false belief about race? What do you want people to know about your experience? Is your story about transformation, overcoming a challenge, or a new awareness? Looking at the list of tags can help you frame your story. Or check out the Video Gallery to see what others have posted.
Need some inspiration? Read "Why Should I Participate?"
Here’s what we’re NOT looking for:
- what you know, think, or understand about race
- your ideas or theories about the prompt you’ve chosen
- your political or philosophical opinions
Here’s what we ARE looking for:
- an account of something that actually happened, OR
- a reflection on a series of events that happened over a period of time
BE CREATIVE! You might want to record yourself performing music or a spoken word piece in response to one of the prompt questions. You could also make a video of a page of writing or a work of art you’ve created.
1) Find a quiet, well-lit place to record.
2) Review the prompt you chose.
3) Speak loud enough for your voice to be easily heard.
4) Try to limit the length of your video to 5 minutes or less.
- To upload your video, you need to have a YouTube or Vimeo account. If you do not have an account with one of these services, use the links below to setup a free account.
- Once you have an account you can upload your video from a computer or directly from a cell phone.
- Use the title "Race Story ReWrite: Your Name" - using your actual name after the colon. You can also tag your video with #racestoryrewrite
- Feel free to add a description with your location or other details.
Fill out the form below and click "Submit Video." Please check any tags that apply to your story.
We will review your video and add it to the collection as soon as we are able.