I have a story about you, I said to the stranger sitting across from me on a small square screen. Would you like to hear my story? Partner/stranger nods yes. My story is you will take up all the time we have together in this short period, you will talk and talk and talk and will speak your truth as if it is the only truth. I will bow down to your truth and feel resentment.”
How do you feel about my story?
He grins, eyes wide and says, “Wow.”
I remember a burning scarlet blush creeping up my neck, cheeks, forehead. I didn’t know this man, never met him before, a complete stranger to me. All I saw was his physical visible features/perceived identities, white elder American-accented. Of course this activity had nothing to do about him, but me, (and vice versa cause he also told his singular story about me which was much more generous and kind) about us, about the stories we tell of each other based on our own projections/biases/assumptions; our own structural and collective stereotypical stories. As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie expresses in her famous talk The Danger of a Single Story, this doesn’t mean the stereotype does not have some truth (or not) it just means we get stuck in our own limited stories of one another. The stranger I was partnered with owned a bit of my story of him, as a white man, the entitlement and power he holds, he acknowledged his privilege and hated that that was the first thing I saw about him. “I am so much more,!” He said.
Yes, I believe you. I believe you!
Imagine if we were able to share our singular stories of one another and check in to see how those limited stories land? Imagine if there was an invitation to learn more of our multitudes; equal and equitable spaces to do this with one another, get to know each other’s multiple stories? As I write this I realize yep this is such a big part The Grenada Listening Project, providing structured/intentional spaces for folks to share and hear one another so we can learn/unlearn and embody one another’s multitudes!