I was reminded, today, of a class that I took a year ago called Hard Conversations on Racism, by Patti Digh. As a very open-minded individual with a multi-cultural family, I thought I would be immune to all of the offenses that would be taught in the class... I was wrong. So very wrong. Because we see ourselves as balanced, accepting, and open adults, we often overlook that we have Single Stories Around Race. We have Single Stories Around Poverty. Single Stories Around Gender. Single Stories Around Sexuality. Single Stories Around Size. Single Stories Around Generations. Single Stories Around Religion. Single Stories Around Culture. Single Stories Around Demographics. Single Stories Around Politics. Single Stories Around History.
It's not because we are bad people. It's not because we have been raised poorly. It's not because we have hatred in our heart. It's not because we are ignorant.
It's because we are HUMAN.
Your Single Stories are your fully lived personal experiences, your perspectives from your front porch, and your stories that you learned from family lore, sometimes passed down through generations. Your Single Stories are a part of you, like the color of your eyes or the hair on your head. Your Single Stories are like glasses that you wear, which give you feelings, opinions, and positions about the world around you. But, do they serve you? REALLY serve you? More importantly, do they serve your team, your community, our world? Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Writer Chimamanda Adichie warns that if we hear only a Single Story about another person, we risk a critical misunderstanding.
I encourage you to question your Single Stories. Talk about them. Twist them around in your heart a bit. Think on them. Feel them. Question them. Own them. Maybe even... drop them. Allow yourself to drop your familiar set of glasses, and choose look at life through someone else's. If we could all let go of our Single Stories- truly let them go- imagine how much kinder, more empathetic, more compassionate, and even happier we could ALL be. If we could eliminate bias, allow ourselves to be fully open and accepting of the Different, Confusing, and New, imagine how interesting and stimulating life would feel. I believe this is possible if we just start having the hard conversations with ourselves, first.
It only, ever and always starts with ME... and, with YOU... amiright?