The Reporter (Vacaville)
Saluting the stories of all great women
The Women's History Month theme for 2023, “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories,” honors women of the past and present who actively tell stories in many professions.
Some of our present storytellers include women who write fiction and non-fiction books, plays, poetry, and documentaries. Many tell stories as faith leaders, educators, news broadcasters, columnists, and reporters.
When it comes to past storytellers, I think about Ida B. Wells-Barnett, a 19th-century investigative journalist. Through her writings, she exposed the lynchings of Black people, predominantly Black men, and other injustices during the 1800s.
Harriet Beecher Stowe, an author and anti-slave abolitionist, wrote “Uncle Tom's Cabin.” The fictional novel, while based on ample facts, depicted the inhumane and horrendous treatment of enslaved Africans. Historians believe her book laid the groundwork for the Civil War.
Many studies confirm that stories remain more memorable than facts alone. Stories inspire us, educate us, persuade us, and move us to action, giving us powerful tools for advocacy in the fight for justice.
Stories galvanize others to join our cause and policymakers to advocate in our favor.
Several weeks ago, I participated in a webinar series, “Power Week.” One of the topics discussed was “The Power of Your Story.” The topic addressed the power of stories, how to clearly tell stories, and connect those stories to listeners or readers to implement transformative change.
The suggested tips were: Owning the value of your idea, leading with that value, and inviting others to visualize what's possible. However, these steps first require clarity of the idea, meaning we must first be honest about how we think about an issue. Or are we going along to get along, I'll add.
Clarity also requires what we believe needs to be changed, our vision of that change, and the resources necessary to implement the change.
We must then determine how to shape our stories around the issue, ensuring that we address significant points whether we're sending in a “Letter to the Editor,” writing a petition or speaking to our inner circle or a larger group.
We have women writing about food justice, environmental justice, and gender equality.
Stories are becoming a useful tool in the fight for reproductive justice and reparations for descendants of slaves.
Many women have written memoirs and novels and produced films addressing human trafficking, child molestation, and domestic abuse. Others have reported on social issues in the media.
A lot of people devalue their social issues and concerns that have touched them, their families' lives, or those of people they know. These stories remain in their heads, dusty notebooks, or on a computer hard drive.
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you,” author and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, once said.
The effectiveness of stories and social justice was found in a doctoral study, “Social Justice Storytelling and Young Children's Active Citizenship.” Louise G. Phillips, the author of the study and a storyteller, told social justice stories to one class of five to six years old at a public school in Brisbane, the capital city of Queensland, Australia. She concluded that even “children hearing social justice stories about other kids helped them to understand what social justice means.”
I salute women telling our stories, especially those advocating against injustices. These stories, regardless of the vehicle, help us to critique society, engage in conversations, advocate for transformative change, develop actionable plans, celebrate victories, and continue the fight.