“We have to give people things not to escape to…but things they can run to, to reaffirm that … if you’re feeling something and you wanna speak it … someone will be there to hear your truth.” – Director Barry Jenkins of Academy Award winning film, Moonlight
There are few things more intimate and brave than sharing one’s story. Storytelling is offering the gift of vulnerability- of shedding the layers we shield ourselves with as we go about our daily lives and offering someone, for just one moment, an honest glimpse into where we came from, and who we became. Storytelling is reveling in our similarities and engaging in each other’s differences to gain perspective and understanding. It is the chance to stray away from the narratives assumed by the media and stereotypes, and to frame our own stories in the way we understand them, and the way we want to be understood. For this reason, diversity and inclusion is an inherent and imperative aspect of the storytelling process. Telling the same stories over and over and ignoring the voices that are heard the least, creates a singular culture that isolates anyone different and creates factions in a society.
Bringing diverse voices to the table and offering a broad range of stories helps foster society to understand each other, and provides each of us with choices. Hearing the experiences of people we think are entirely different from us, and then finding a commonality in their story through which we can relate is a reminder that no matter where our histories differ, we are rooted in our sense of humanity. Simultaneously, hearing how profoundly different our lives have been is not necessarily always about relating, but rather gives those who have struggled the unique voice they inherently deserve.
MALA promotes diversity by celebrating differences in cultures, perspectives, backgrounds, and traditions. We strive to create awareness by sharing the unique experiences of hundreds of individuals and giving them a platform to be heard; to inspire, and be inspired. MALA sees diversity as a strength that can unite people from every walk of life and provide them with an opportunity for self-growth and enlightenment.
By including stories from individuals of many different backgrounds, MALA hopes to bridge understanding, create meaningful dialogue and set the stage for real change. Through empathic story-telling, we can begin viewing diversity as a reflection of ourselves – our hopes, our dreams, our heartbreaks and challenges, our unwavering beliefs, and most of all, our commitment to a better world. Listen and share our latest stories below:
- Sam comes from an Iraqi-Hispanic background, and reflects on a defining turning point in his life during childhood when he and his mother escaped from his father in the middle of the night. As a gay man, he hopes his story is helpful to share with people who may feel that they are alone.
- Noura is a Syrian immigrant from Damascus. She filed for divorce due to domestic violence, and raised her two children as a single parent in the USA. The revolution in Syria drove her to take action and join a collective effort to assist with the refugee crisis.
- Sadaf shares a compelling view on how her faith has guided her to champion feminism. Born and raised into a middle class Pakistani family in America, she credits her mother for being her source of motivation.
- Bihi fled from Somaliland due to war and conflict. In his eloquent story, he describes his journey to America, and how he remains committed to help his community overcome cultural and language barriers in Minneapolis.
- Colette is of Mexican and Palestinian descent. She studied communications at Northwestern University. In her story, she describes how she took a risk to go to Egypt and work on a film to raise awareness about sexual harassment of women.