Another Haiti

Trump’s remarks last month on immigration policy and limiting the number of immigrants from “sh*thole countries” in favor of immigrants from countries like Norway drew outrage across the nation. My parents were born in Haiti and emigrated to the United States when they were teenagers in the late seventies during the dictatorship of Duvalier. I am a proud Haitian- American woman. Trump’s comments got me thinking about the stories we tell and the power they have to either uplift or exploit communities of people. During our training for InterAction, we always begin our sessions with a quote from Chimamanda Adichie’s famous TedTalk, Danger of a Single Story. In the quote, she warns us that stories have the power to “malign and dispossess” and that they can “break the dignity of a people.” So, how might Trump’s comments be considered dangerous as Chimamanda warns us?

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Changing Places: Privilege & Identity Abroad

During the fall of 2016, we witnessed how our political milieu has broad consequences around the world. We started thinking about privilege in the international context. Because our identities exist within a context of a society, our privileges shift in different local contexts. But when we’re talking about international travel, there is also larger historical context we need to keep in mind. We started asking ourselves: What does it mean to be an American visiting Palestine or the countless other countries negatively affected by US foreign policy? How should a white person act in a country when they visit people who have been colonized and/or imperialized by white people?

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Why Counter-Narrative Theater?

The experience created by this model of raw, simple, monologue-based, counter-narrative theater is the closest we can get to hearing second-hand about real life encounters of racism, sexism, homophobia, and all of the marginal experiences of exclusion. This matters because it is an opening to understanding how we can replicate seminal experiences.

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The Threat to Inclusion & And what we should do about it

Extremist ideologies centering on exclusion are possible because they simplify the world with one story, which is supposed to speak for all of us. For example, the ideology of white supremacy builds on a one-dimensional narrative that white people are superior with the intent of obtaining and maintaining power for this status quo group. This one narrow story is historically tied with power and is used to justify wrongdoings of past and sparks hate crimes in the current day. Moreover, this one story silences the realities of the historically marginalized populations.

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The InterAction Love Story: Tips on Leading a Healthy Work-Spouseship

There’s a lot of advice and self-help books on relationships - from finding the love of your life to how to keep your marriage afloat. I’m surprised that there isn’t as much writing on how to find your lifelong work partner. I think of lifelong work partners as those who 1) share a common mission in life, 2) choose each other to strive for that mission, and 3) are committed to working together to achieve that mission in the long haul.
 

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Back to School: The Ongoing Battle & Strategizing with Stories

We're back to school after one of the most challenging years for those in social justice and inclusion work. Let’s start with stories. The stories we create communicate our experiences and interactions with the sociopolitical and historical reality of the world. There are many stories in circulation today. Stories are an ambivalent tool like religion. They can be used for building a more equitable society as much as they can be used to create more injustice in the world. Critical Race Theory helps us understand the role and place of counterstories: stories that challenge the mainstream. With the vision of building a more equitable society, we need counterstories to be centered for surviving, healing, and building.

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