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  • Writer's pictureJackie McGriff

Dismantling Destructive Stereotypes Through Storytelling: 3 Steps to Getting Started

Updated: Sep 9, 2020

hands of all different shades together and face up in a circle of people

Stories carry tremendous weight. They move us, educate us, haunt us, inspire us, challenge us, and pivot our way of thinking over a particular subject or moment in history. Since its beginning, Hollywood has been telling us stories that are all too familiar. (And no, we're not talking about the prequels, sequels, and remakes.)

Although Hollywood is slowly getting better about making intentional decisions regarding diversity and inclusion, there's still some destructive narratives at play here. These are stories that place its non-white characters into boxes - boxes that have helped sway public perception of non-white individuals and, therefore, fuel implicit bias and systemic racism that have harmed many Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color in our society*.

*This is a topic we'll dive deeper into later on in subsequent blogs entries.

diverse group of women

We are multifaceted people. We each have different interests, backgrounds, ancestry, socioeconomic statuses, and beliefs but many of the popular stories that are out there tend to limit us into caricatures of ourselves to which our general audience has grown accustomed.

So how does one even break this down? How do we shift these narratives into something that reflects who we are? We believe it's by telling our stories. Stories of joy, love, grief, wins, losses, surprise, frustration- whatever it is, your story should be heard.

If you want to tell your story, but you're not quite sure what to talk about, follow the next 3 steps.

woman sitting on a bench

Reflect. What experiences shaped who you are today? There's no angle to this, no specific topic that we're looking for you to share. We want to hear what's on YOUR heart. Remember, this is YOUR story. We want to hear about the life-changing events, the monumental events, the situations that changed you forever, the moments that made you who you are today, the experiences that point to how you got to now.

What drives you? What are the things that you care deeply about and why do these things mean so much to you? Are you involved in causes, charities, and/or organizations that are committed to this topic or issue?

Are you a family person? Were you and your family close growing up? Do you get certain traits from either your parents or grandparents that, upon reflection, you realize is a part of you?

Did something happen in your life that you will always remember that has led you down a path to where you are today?

Are there times where you've had to step out of your comfort zone? What was your comfort zone and how did this one instance pull you out of there?

Take some time to think these through and as you think of them...

young man sitting down writing in a notebook

Write them down. Once you have an idea (or a set of ideas), write it (them) down. Make a list. If you don't write them down, you may remember some, but it's best to write everything down and as much of the story as you can remember. Then, outline the story (or stories). This will help your story flow naturally when telling it.

Finally, share your story! Get it in front of people, which is why we are here! We want to hear and share your story (stories). Stories that others have shared with us give us clarity, gives another opportunity to understand where others are coming from, it requires that we listen to others share what life has been for them because it's not all about us. Bringing us closer together and building a community of those who want to uplift each other all starts from sharing our stories and empowering others to do the same.

young woman wearing shades and a white top looking off to the side while smiling

Our mission is to shift the one-dimensional, and often negative, narratives that Hollywood shares with Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color and we believe that by sharing your story as one who identifies as one or more of these groups, we can turn this around. You can visit our Share Your Story form on the Home page to contact us about the stories that you'd like to share. Each participant will get a video interview with our crew that will be edited (to how YOU want your story told), reviewed with you, and after your approval displayed on our social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), our website, and YouTube. You will also get a copy of the video to share on your personal pages as well!

Thank you for reading and we cannot wait to hear your stories!

The Our Voices Project Crew

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