July 17, 2015
Storytelling is powerful. Political issues are often debated with cold, hard, facts and statistics, but politics is ultimately about people. Stories remind us of that. Storytelling highlights the human impact of seemingly objective, clear-cut issues and can soften the most rigid of stances. When people realize they can relate to someone else’s life experience, our society becomes more inclusive, more accepting, more connected.
Voices for Racial Justice (VRJ), a Minnesota nonprofit, is harnessing the power of storytelling to foster understanding of and sensitivity to the unique issues faced by communities of color.
VRJ’s Greater Visions project develops video narratives to elevate the voices of Minnesota’s minority communities. Vina Kay, VRJ Executive Director, says, “we have found the development of those narratives to be powerful organizing tools. And sharing the videos [with the general public] draws important attention to the presence, voice and power of communities of color.”
A meaningful story highlights the human impact of a political issue. It takes time and trust to identify and excavate the stories within communities that have historically been silenced and ignored. Voices for Racial Justice actively engages Minnesota’s diverse communities, from African Americans to tribal nations to Vietnamese immigrants. Vina Kay explains, “Our intention is to respect the wisdom and leadership of the communities in which we engage, [thus creating] the spaces for their narratives to emerge.”
VRJ’s Greater Visions project isn’t just about elevating voices. Kay says the project is “designed to be sustainable by building the organizing power of communities to lead for themselves.”
It all starts with the power of stories. Voices for Racial Justice is giving Minnesota’s diverse communities the platform they need to tell Minnesota’s racial justice story in their own words.