Storytelling as Resistance for Marginalized Voices and Communities

My posts are a video with a description, and also two quotes. The connecting theme I am presenting with each of each of these works is how storytelling is both a political and personal act of resistance and liberation for marginalized voices and their communities.


This clip above has people speaking of Pura Teresa Belpre, the first Puerto Rican and Latina to work in the New York Pubic Library System. Bepre dedicated her life to preserving Puerto Rican culture and creating a space for it in libraries. She knew oral storytelling’s importance to her culture, and the community that formed from it as a cultural tradition. She used oral storytelling performances of Puerto Rican folklore both inside the library and in doing outreach to create a more inclusive  space for the Puerto Rican community in the library. She also dedicated herself to being a storyteller so that children and the community as a whole would  be proud of their culture in the U.S.

I found this information on her life from this article  for those interested ing read more about her work and life:


All historians have points of view. All of us use some process of selection through which we choose which stories we consider important and interesting.  We construct history from some perspective, within some particular world view.  Storytelling is not neutral.  Curandera historians make this explicit, openly naming our partisanship, our intent to influence how people think.

-Aurora Morales

I need my ancestors of courage: storytellers who understand that their work is not wholly theirs, but that at its best, is divinely inspired by history and mythic memory.

– Cherríe Moraga

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3 Responses to Storytelling as Resistance for Marginalized Voices and Communities

  1. Quin Rich says:

    The potential for storytelling as a tool of resistance to oppression for marginalized voices is especially inspiring in light of the reading for Wednesday. In the reading the idea that a story need not be strictly “factual” in order to be true comes particularly to mind. By rejecting the notion that there is only one “objective” truth, it becomes possible to recognize, as Aurora Morales notes, that all stories, be they histories, narratives, tales, or otherwise, have a necessary and inescapable perspective and positionality. This is because stories are necessarily told by and to embodied, positioned humans through the medium of language, which is itself already positioned by sociocultural and historical forces. Thus, storytelling becomes a way for marginalized communities to reclaim their self-narrative from the hegemonic groups, an idea also echoed in Wednesday’s reading. The claiming of one’s narrative prevent one from being defined wrongly to oneself and the world by others, thus preventing othering. This brings to mind the image of the feminist conscious-raising group as one example of how storytelling can be used to valorize and validate a subjectivity and lived experience that has been invalidated, oppressed, denied, and erased by the outside world. To fully engage with this tradition, the storyteller must emerge from within the relevant positionality; otherwise this becomes merely an exercise in reinforcing the appropriation of the marginalized group’s right to self-definition.

  2. Mike Goulding says:

    This post plays with a powerful theme that is poignant throughout storytelling, that is, it’s ability to provide a sense of community. Pura Belpre allowed those in her Puerto Rican community, especially the children to divulge in their culture through coming together and partaking in the oral storytelling and listening experience. The children were gaining an unique experience of a past that is now often distant. Through the act of telling stories to the kids, she was enlightening their hearts and minds as well as teaching them moral and life lessons. Storytelling here, is a strong means of community social development and cultural expression.

  3. Paula says:

    This post reminded me of my reason for taking this class. Storytelling among marginalized commnunities is a power tool for building community, preserving tradition, and empowering an oppressed people to resist. It is work like Pura Belpre’s that goes hand in hand with empowering marginalized communities to resist in practice on a daily basis by participating in cultural resistance, by choosing not to write off their history and give into the forces around trying to write them out of history. Cherrie Moraga’s quote particularly struck me in this sense because it reminded me of the Zapatista communities in Chiapas, Mexico, and their strong tradition of stories and magical realism even in their revolutionary writing calling allies to action. One of their treasured symbols is a snail, because it represents the importance of patience in revolutionary change since change happens slowly. Just as important, however, is the spiral in the snail’s shell, which can be traced both inwardly and outwardly (symbolically representing the importance of moving forward but also of looking back to the lessons of history). Storytellers, as I see it, are the spirals in this sense, the ancestors of courage that keep us connected to our past while always propelling us forward together toward a more humane existence.

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