What's Your Story?

Biz Narrative Blog by Ruth Halpern

Observations and anecdotes about business narrative in the corporate world.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Get inside the life of an outsider

One of my goals in delivering diversity training is to help participants develop understanding for the world-views of people from different backgrounds than their own. This is hard work: you have to want to do it, because it takes energy, empathy, openness, and patience.

This year, one way to expand your awareness of diversity is to go to the movies. Rarely have movie-goers had a chance to feel life outside the mainstream as strongly and viscerally as they do in the movie "Precious: Based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire." Precious Jones is a quintuple outsider: African-American, female, a teenage mother, an incest survivor, and obese. She is also a deeply feeling, strong character, who we quickly come to identify with, root for, and love. For her, an "ordinary day" is fraught with threats and dangers--harassment, humiliation, physical and sexual assault--that many of us have never had to contend with, yet we follow her because she pushes forward with persistence, sass, and a powerful imagination. This is why storytellers say that "you can never hate a person once you know her story."

This movie is a gift: an opportunity to inhabit a world that, while it may seem foreign in some respects, is as passion-filled and worthy of respect as any that has been portrayed in more "mainstream" movies.

I emerged from it shaken, and enlightened.

What more could a diversity trainer ask for?

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