Telling Our Own Story: The Role of Narrative in Racial Healing

by Brianna Goodale; Rachel D. Godsil

Feb 25, 2014

An important resource for leaders and practitioners working to overcome our nation's legacy of racism. The authors present the power of the narrative and its important role in racial healing.

  • In every culture and every religion, stories have played critical roles in constituting meaning, constructing identity, and prescribing behavior.
  • Narrative stories required less semantic processing than reading strict facts about an issue, suggesting individuals expend less mental energy to comprehend a story than to infer strict information devoid of context.
  • Any feasible solutions for healing need to have a community and systems focus.
  • On an individual level, tribal elders believe our health is linked to the story surrounding our lives.
  • A social narrative requires a plot, transforming events into a compelling story which leads a listener to identify with the goals of the social group.
  • In a society flooded with anti-minority narratives, young children may learn and internalize the biased content.
  • The success of the empathic liberal commentary also implies that narratives can have a positive impact on attitudes, particularly when it comes to humanizing police officers.
  • The stories we tell each other, the gossip we pass, and the media representation of events shape the meaning of our lives. To heal our communities, we must regain authorship of our own stories and tell the tales we conceive as our futures.