Narrative Change for a Social Shift
Understanding where our values and beliefs come from is a key drive for people committed to social change, according to a recent blog post by Julienne Kaleta and Joanna Carrasco, Living Cities coordinators.
Kaleta and Carrasco write that problems arise when "narratives widely held by Americans perpetuate harmful beliefs about why inequities exist, and what we can or should do about them." "Leaders working to fight inequity," they say, "must be cognizant of these narratives and the ways in which they undermine the missions we are working toward."
Some organizations report that they are committed to diversity, but that there are not enough “qualified” people of color available for hire, according to Kaleta and Carrasco. They continue:
This harmful narrative perpetuates falsehoods about people of color, hinders their economic outcomes, and allows for the wealth gap to persist. Another narrative is the idea that “rocking the boat” by changing organizational culture to promote equitable practices is risky, especially for organizations accountable to board members and shareholders. Narratives like these allow people to justify the status quo. Racist hiring practices, marketing campaigns, and other contributors to structural racism go unchecked.
A change in narrative, Kaleta and Carrasco argue, can translate into greater equity in the world. "There would be no racial disparities in hiring, promotion or compensation. We would be one step closer to closing income and wealth gaps in America."