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Reframe: Shifting Shame with Stories to Change the World

If we're going to do more than simply survive, we need help...
Reframe: Shifting Shame with Stories to Change the World

[Image description: In a circular frame set within a pink background, is a close-up photo of Atena wearing a maroon shirt, hair pulled to the side in a ponytail, smiling at the camera. Underneath the picture circle, text reads, “Fundraiser page; Donate to Atena, O Danner’s fundraiser” the words ‘donate to’, appear to be covered up by a piece of tape with the words ‘Invest in’ written on it.]

Shame suppresses storytelling precisely because sharing stories kills shame; they are natural enemies. Every time we choose to connect with others through stories, it weakens the shame clinging to us.

This is part of what we cultural workers do: If we want to change the world for the better, we have to be able to change the narratives that hold us back. Let me start with a reframe of the shame we cultivate around asking for help.

We are shamed all our lives for crying, expressing sadness or anger - any emotion that communicates a need for support. Any form of asking is called ‘begging.’ Whether writing grants or making friends, we know that “sounding too desperate” is a cardinal social sin. But our economy and social safety net are in the trash; without community care we barely have enough time and energy to survive, let alone activate movements for social change.

Really, y’all: who benefits from us being ashamed and exhausted?

If we want to change the world for the better, we have to share our stories of need.

The idea that we should be entirely self-sufficient is a trick and a lie. For Black and Brown and Indigenous people, disabled people, women and folks of marginalized genders, queer and trans people, people without financial resources, and all the intersections therein… witholding our needs is dangerous because it keeps us from building the safety and community we need to survive. Telling our stories breaks isolation apart and brings us together. Asking for help is not an affront to dignity - it’s an investment!

I am a cultural worker and I strive to be an instrument of Black liberation, using poetry and storytelling to facilitate the joy and healing we need to thrive.

My writing is designed to point out the love we share, so we can protect it together, and remind us of what aches so we can find the right medicine.

And like everyone else, if I’m going to do more than simply survive, I need help.

I’m proud of what I can do when I have time and space to make art and that my work can help others. I hope you will join me. Will you please invest in my upcoming writing retreat?

During Roots. Wounds. Words. Writers Retreat I’ll spend a week in community with other writers who are working to tell stories that can change the world. There will be more details about my upcoming project in the weeks to come.

Please take a look at the fundraiser and like, share, and support as you are able. I am so grateful for you and the energy you’ve already shared with your time and attention - thank you for being a part of this unfolding story!

In gratitude and solidarity,