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The Importance of Storytelling

Following the wave of Black Lives Matter demonstrations earlier this spring Afryea Collective decided to collect stories about encounters with racism in Norway. Why we have been collecting stories about encounters with racism in Norway - and why we think sharing them is one of the most powerful tools in getting people to listen and ultimately to create a change.

In Yaa Gyasi´s book “Homegoing” (which if you haven’t already read we highly recommend that you do!) one of the characters, when reflecting about the problems of history, points out that “we cannot know that which we were not there to see and hear and experience for ourself.”

The reality is that we rely upon the words of others - believing “the one who has the power”.

In relation to stories of racism in Norway and particularly to racism in schools, we often hear that there is no problem at all. That racism does not exist in these places. The stories we collected focused on racism in Norway. Although writing this in Norwegian would be more suitable, for the example we are using, we think it is applicable throughout any context relating to the power of storytelling.

Whenever a story is told, it is crucial to ask one-self whose voice was silenced so that this voice could come forth - and then actively look for that voice and make room for that side of the story to be heard.

Up until now, we have heard the voices of school officials and public office holders because they are the ones holding the power. They have been the ones dictating which story is most important and which story that has been the correct one, even though they were not there to see nor to hear or experience the racism for themselves.

Stories of lived experiences by black and brown people are often dismissed and belittled. However, there is strength in numbers, and through people coming forward and sharing their own stories, we can change the power dynamic, giving us the power to write the story - making the, till now, suppressed voice, the one that is heard.

Your testimony of your own lived experience is in itself proof of a reality that the mainstream is quick to deny. In collectively sharing these stories, we are making our voices heard.

That is why we have collected stories and why we are continuing to tell them to anyone who wants to listen.

Thank you for sharing your story with us.

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