Moving to junior high opens Angela’s eyes to a society and culture that she had been living in Venezuela, and yet from which she was separate. Her story tells a universal truth: we think we are the only ones telling ourselves “We do not belong here.”
A frantic call from Sheila Arnold’s son during his freshmen year in college turns into a moment to remember all that she had to teach him about growing up black, and what he had learned about crossing bridges in spite of people’s perceptions.
In South Carolina during Jim Crow, Cynthia Changaris is baffled by why black people get to ride in the “best part” of the bus with the great view out the rear window or why her playmate dies because he couldn’t get to a “colored hospital” in time.
A white man has an experience at a copy shop that causes him to examine the negative impact racial conditioning has had on him and he becomes painfully aware of his subconscious denial and patronizing attitude towards them.
Doug’s father was disowned for marrying a Christian woman. When Doug’s father is part of the liberation of a concentration camp in WWII can he and Doug’s grandfather reconcile?
A funny and touching story about two girls who live in a socially divided village in the heart of the industrial English Midlands. On one unusual day, they transcend the barrier that separates them the joy of that brief friendship is long remembered.
Heather tells of the odd twist of fate that saved her father’s life when he, along with all the other Jewish teenagers in his neighborhood, gave up their personal life plans and enlisted in the U.S. army to go fight Hitler in 1942.
Nancy tells an excerpt from “A Window of Beauty,” a story inspired by the experiences of a young girl, her remarkable teacher and their secret art classes in the Terezin Concentration Camp in Czechoslovakia during World War II.
Judith remembers that her grandfather, Oscar Markowitz, was an actor in the Yiddish Theatre at the turn of the 20th Century. A story about hard choices, hopes, dreams, racial persecution, and love!
As a young boy, Nestor and his siblings cross the Guatemala/Mexico and Mexico/USA borders to join his parents in the USA.
Many Africans and First Nations people bonded together during and after slavery in the Americas and in the Caribbean for protection, acceptance, friendship and love. As a result, many African descendants also share Native American ancestries.
During the 1960’s, Patricia Redd’s family moved to the a new community in South Chicago. Hers was one of the first African- American families to integrate the parish school. Before long she begins to understand the effects of “white-flight.”
When Priscilla Howe traveled to Communist Bulgaria in the 1980s, she found herself in a difficult situation. She found help from a Bulgarian man who reminded her to look beyond appearances.
A Jewish girl and her friend sneak away from the forced walk of the Nazis. They hide in a haystack and a farmer helps them until the drums toll. In the face of this innocence, what motivates the Nazi soldier? What compels the farmer to help?
Sadika witnessed the Lebanese civil war. The atrocities and the horrors can change a human being into a monster. Is there any hope for tolerance, love and forgiveness after such an experience? “Uncle George” made the difference.
In researching housing history in segregated Chicago, Sue learns about the 1919 Chicago race riot. She wonders why she has not heard the story before now.
In kindergarten, Linda was told by her classmates, “You act white! You dress white! You have white people’s hair…” And then, the taunting began. It took Linda a long time to understand what it means to be black.
At school Olga was taught not to speak Spanish or risk punishment. At the same time, her Japanese-American friends were able to learn the Japanese language and study its culture. How she could straddle multiple worlds too?
Nancy dives into why her relationship with her mother has been one of ambivalence. Her journey is colored by the differences between Chinese and Western values and behaviors making it even more difficult to understand.
Leeny shares stories of her colorful, beloved family. Meet her charming Cuban Dad and his zany wife, Lorraine. Hear what happened when three-year-old Leeny receives an unusual souvenir from Cuba.
Sue grew up hearing about “them” – the people who would come and take her and her neighbors’ homes in their all-white neighborhood. When her family watched the Friday night fights, it was made clear who was “the other” and who was “us.”
An African-American boy named Chester Parker helped Priscilla Howe feel less afraid in first grade. When their paths crossed years later, she missed the chance to connect with him again.
After years of being bullied in school and teased, especially by her sister, Leeny’s Cuban grandmother teaches her a song and a Spanish phrase that changes Leeny’s perspective on beauty and, therefore, on her life.
In high school, Susan O’Halloran spent her first overnight away from her Chicago home and met people from different ethnic and racial groups. She learns that there is more to people and discovers layers of herself she had long been ignoring.
Small town meets big city. Boundaries are crossed and cultures collide when a Midwest family encounters the boys from New York City. Will they find common ground or confrontation?
This story speaks of the imposed mental conditioning that inspires people to despise their own natural attributes. It also explores how this toxic conditioning has led to people seeing themselves as being “less than,” not as “beautiful.”
Storyteller Jim May relates his days working his way through school on a union construction crew; as well as the unions roll in softening the effects of classism and racism.
As Motoko raises her Japanese son in the U.S., she is reminded of prejudice against Koreans in her own country, and discovers the importance of the language we use to create the world we live in.
As a five-year-old, Sue met a boy her age who was different from her. Sue’s mother subtly lets Sue know that she is not to be friends with the boy.
Charles Ishikawa grew up in Plantation camps in Waipahu, Hawaii. He was just 14 years old when Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Afterward, he and his family worried if they were American enough.
Overcoming health issues and life and death challenges, from Darkness to Light describes the embodiment of the Indian festival of Lights/Diwali that welcomes in the “new” in each and every one of us in a beautiful way.
It was August 12th, 1966 and Dr. Martin Luther King was marching through Susan O’Halloran’s south Chicago neighborhood. At the same time, the KKK heard the news and arrived in the same neighborhood, splitting it into two.
What if the U.S. went to war with your country of origin? Anne Shimojima tells of the difficult days following the attack on Pearl Harbor, when her Japanese-American family were forced to evacuate their home.
Andy Offutt Irwin experienced school desegregation in the 1960s but students were “tracked” which led to a more subtle form of segregation. However, racial tracking led Andy to unexpected friendships.
When Lyn Ford was young, “Finding Josephus” was a “legend” told by her father. But curiosity and research brought forth its reality, and a connection both to the lesser-known history of the Underground Railroad and the heart of her father’s story.
Kucha was born in the North, but her Southern family values and ties came North with her family. In this story, Kucha wonders why everyone feels the need to pigeon hole other people?
As a teen E.B. liked being unique but his coaches wanted him to fit in. Then years later as an attorney he wants to hire someone who reminds him of himself. He decides to hire her and let her find out if she wants to fit in or standout.
This story is a piece of history from the 1950’s. It tells of affordable housing and living in a particular neighborhood while providing some insight into the different ethnic groups that make up some of our communities.
This is a personal journey tale from Lyn’s childhood living next door to a Holocaust survivor and, then, her adolescent small but mature steps into the greater Civil Rights Movement.
After her Grandmother passes, Sue searches for her Grandmother’s story. Her exploration takes her into Irish American history and, eventually, to Ireland to find her Grandmother’s childhood home.
An American family gathers for a reunion with laughter, memories, and good ol’ corn beef and cabbage. Suddenly, the father kneels before his family and sobs apologetically, “Your country has betrayed you.”
The Chicago Public Schools were almost totally segregated in the 1950’s when Gwen first integrated a South Side High School. She in school but had an encounter with the police that threatened to overshadow her academic accomplishments.
Hasan, a Muslim, was a college student in 1992 when the siege against his city, Sarajevo, began. He joined the Army of Bosnia but would do anything to escape and live in peace and freedom. A few of his many adventures are detailed in this excerpt.
This is a true story of the writer and the haunting experience she had at age 13 on a southern plantation near an old tree by the side of the road.
Mama Edie’s new friend, Renee, grew up in a predominately white community during the Civil Rights years. When Renee attends college she learns the pain of being treated as an outsider by some of the other Africian American students.
Antonio explores the challenges and joys of trying to raise a bilingual child. As anxious new parents, Antonio and his wife ask, “Are two languages better than one?” and find humor along the way.
Emily Hooper Lansana reminices about how her life would be if she believed what others told her. In this story you will learn what racial justice is allowing everyone the opportunity to same opportunities to succeed.
Stories about our ancestors help us understand who we are. Encountering troubling revelations about her forebears and their Indian neighbors in colonial New England, Jo Radner asks what it means to tell – and live with – her whole, complex history.
Images is a white man’s reflection about the powerful and debilitating impact of the disparaging imagery that has been historically used to shape the perception of African Americans as dangerous. He vows to make a change.
This story reveals how a group of immigrants rallied with resilience and ingenuity so that the 7th generation of Chinese Americans thrives today.
As part of a service project, Mary Gay and her best friend are to start a Girl Scout troop at a notorious reform school in New Orleans. As an adult, Mary Gay wishes she could go back to the school and ask for more for the girls.
How would the government treat your family if it went to war with your ancestors’ country of origin? Anne Shimojima describes life in an incarceration camp for her Japanese-American family during World War II.
Jack was just 16 when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. He could not stop World War II or the U.S. Army forcing his family and 120,000 innocent Japanese Americans into concentration camps.
Can Jack’s humor and sketches help him “make the best of it”?
An unlikely friendship is formed in a small-town barbershop. The friendship is not one that can openly flourish due to racism in the town. The story illustrates how one stands firmly and humbly in the face of racism while always willing to give back.
A chance encounter is an unexpected blessing for a teenager, who discovers that true strength is rooted within, extending down into the roots of the ancestors.
Sometimes we forget about the diversity that exists within a faith and within a family. In this story, Arif is reminded of how he is different from some of the relatives in his Muslim family.
Bill’s mother and father came from families at the opposite ends of the political spectrum. One Thanksgiving dinner, Bill’s father stands up to in-laws making bigoted comments and Bill learns a valuable lesson about taking a stand.
In the early 1960s, a Black student feels relief to encounter a White teacher who operates without apparent bias. However, he soon discovers that, in spite of her kind heart, his teacher unknowingly perpetuates White superiority.
Looking at high school yearbooks, Shanta reflects on the changes of her childhood neighborhood and as an adult, with a larger understanding of the times – blockbusting and other pressures – the sting of being “the other” remains.
As a Cuban and Irish American child, Antonio deals with being “too ethnic” or “not ethnic enough”. By trial and error and with the support of his family, Antonio reclaims all of his ethnic heritage and his Spanish language.
Karin had been a practical Asian woman and everything had been happening exactly as she planned until tragedy struck. With the help of storytelling in a support group to writing her Japanese blog she was able to overcome grief.
When Laura fell in love with Kevin, she was certain her liberal family would love him, too. Imagine her surprise when Laura and her father needed to negotiate his discomfort with her sweetheart’s differences
Michael’s mother models the importance and love of reading, but, mostly importantly, the value of kindness. When Michael tours in Brazil, he discovers that his mother was teaching the students there as well.
Growing up, Steven was involved in Boy Scouts and his church and as a teen he advocated for community development in his New Jersey neighborhood. But could he get involved in the rising black militancy of the late 1960s?
Dreading spending the summer with her strong willed grandmother, a young Earliana learns the true strength in “black beauty”. She finds that no matter how different we may look, we all have the capacity to feel and be kind to one another.
While attending a memorial service for children who died through gun violence sparks memories. Susan O’Halloran as well as other ask the continuing questions: what is our part in ending violence? Will it ever end?
While attending a memorial service for children who died through gun violence sparks memories. Susan O’Halloran as well as other ask the continuing questions: what is our part in ending violence? Will it ever end?
Antonio’s father listened to classical music that transported him back to his beloved Cuba. Antonio thinks of listening to music in the future with his son and the memories and scenes the music will evoke.
Can a teenager make an impact in a world full of injustice? Jasmin looks back to a time when she joined the cause to free a young Mexican-American artist, Manuel Salazar, who sat on death row falsely accused of killing a police officer.
Brenda’s grandfather collects, dries and sells seaweed along the coast of California. When she is older, she finds his ways strange and the work hard, but the two find unique ways of talking and enjoying each other’s company.
After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Beth realized that the fight for civil rights was happening right in her own home. When she discovered the prejudice of her family, she had a choice to make. Her family’s beliefs? Or her own?
In 1964, Carmen’s father, a Cuban refugee, went to work at a steel manufacturing plant near Atlanta, Georgia. On the first day of work he was faced with two choices: a “white” bathroom and a “colored” bathroom. His solution is creative and humorous.
Karin never dreamed about marriage growing up because of her Japanese parents’ unromantic arranged marriage. But when her father had a severe stroke, her mother stuggled every day for months to teach him the basics – reading, walking and talking.
A story about Elizabeth, an “Army brat”, who must navigate the world for her Korean immigrant mother. Through this process she learns to stop being embarrassed by her mother and shifts to standing up for her.
Motoko tells a story about her own experience of sexual harassment in Japan, how she was trapped into silence imposed by her culture, and how storytelling helped her break through the silence and heal herself.
Ada Cheng explains the meanings of her Chinese name: Shu-Ju, and the connection to expectations of her parents and their Chinese culture. She details why she chose to stay with the name Ada and what the name means to life and identity.
Kiran shares the stories he heard about his parents’ three migrations from India to Uganda to England.
As a 4th grader, Sheila was given a new nickname – the “N” word – and how that nickname resulted in an unlikely friendship, and down the road, led to forgiveness and reconciliation.
As a young child in the 1950s, Susan Klein, raised Methodist, was intrigued by the mysterious practices of her Roman Catholic friends and neighbors. Susan’s growing awareness of religious difference and how it might indicate value—someone is better, someone is worse—caused her to understand how some in her community might viewed her friendship with an African American girl.
While traveling from California to Lousiana, Diane’s family stops at a restaurant. A “whites only” sign hangs near the door and Diane’s family, all black, must eat in the kitchen. She learns about prejudice and how to keep in high spirits that day.
A woman tells Jon a story about how a stranger saved her from arrest and morse but leaves before she completes her story. As Jon reflects, he asks: are we prepared to help a stranger when they need us most?
During WWII a Japanese American nurse is forced to leave her belongings and home to be imprisioned in an incarceration camp. Traveling to the camps a baby who should have been in the hospital takes a turn. The end-result is out of the nurse’s hands.
Carol believes: “To build a bridge from one culture into another and make pluralism a cause for celebration, we have to have one foot firmly planted in who we are.” When exploring her Polish and Scottish roots, she wonders, am I living what I teach?
Linda’s grandmother covered everything with plastic. Everything … chairs, tables, lampshades, even the sofa and throw pillow. But who would suspect this would set off a painful memory of the Vietnam War for Linda’s father?
Brenda performs a song in Japanese and is told to stop using “demonic language” and is called “a witch.” Unfortunately, bias and ignorance is also visited on the next generation when her son is mistaken for another Japanese American student.
Pam Faro grew up in very white central Wisconsin. Decades later, over a glass of wine with family, she learned that something she’d always done innocently was racially hurtful. How could a class taken way back in high school be of any help?
Jim May remembers holocaust survivor, Lisa Derman, who died suddenly of a heart attack while telling a the story that had defined her contributions to the fight against anti-Semitism, as well as against genocide the world over.
Joseph’s father and neighbor debate whether a Jewish family should have a Christmas tree. Meanwhile Joseph gets into mischief resulting in an overturned tree and a proclaimation.
Rev. Jones gives a rousing illustration of how today’s rap music has evolved from the blues and earlier musical forms.
Five-year-old Kiyoshi lives in world that has been turned upside down since Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Since then his father was taken away and his family moved living briefly in a horse stall before ending up in a place called Minidoka.
In the Cold War era, in a high school without a soul, Erica experienced brief inclusion in the best girl’s clique! Then, she was dropped and fell into hopeless disappointment and depressions. But with her father’s help and the inspiration of a House on Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) witness, she found her power and the school found its spirit.
In a chance encounter, Kevin Cordi meets someone others might classify as a “redneck.” Cordi begins a short conversation with this very pleasant man named Jack. Jack explains to Cordi about the nature of the term “redneck” and asks, “When did dirt and hard work become something bad?” In that moment, Cordi reconnects with and feels pride in his mountain heritage.
One day, 5-year old Arif learns how to play with a dreidel and learns about the differences between Christians and Jews.
While getting a passport Onawumi Jean discovered that her name is not on her birth certificate. Her aunt is able to clear up the mystery by disclosing a concession Onawumi’s mother made to get along and keep her job in the Jim Crow South.
Amber, Misty, and Autumn – three multi-ethnic sisters – offer a sneak peek into their thoughts about self-identification. These storytellers also share a medley of emotional experiences about how they have sometimes been viewed by others.
Storyteller Jim Stowell tells how an immigrant woman is faced with trials and hardships, and how she established a sense of pride and dignity for herself and her family.
This story is about learning about bigotry and the strength to conquer it and the wisdom that a young person can learn from a stranger who becomes a friend.
Journey with Mama Edie as she relives her 1966 experience of marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Ride the back of the train “up north” in the “Negro section” in search of a better life to only find Jim Crow blocking your way.
Finding herself on a historical tour of the Wall of Derry in Northern Ireland, Margaret discovers she is holding on to an ancestral hostility, the kind of hostility that perpetuates hatred, violence and war. Is this who she wants to be?
Michael McCarty has a poem about the importance of reading, storytelling and what he learned from his mother.
This family story describes Shanta’s father and grandparents’ escape from the 1921 Tulsa Oklahoma Massacre. Shanta’s grandfather, a tailor, was forced to flee with his family to Chicago where he was able to re-establish his business.
During the McCarthy witch-hunts (a period of anti-communism intensity), the Cold War and the Space Race, Yvonne Healty describes how we learned to “blend” ethnic identities.
One day an angry black girl stormed into history class and demanded to know why she had not heard about black inventors. Her favorite teacher, who was white, was faced with a decision and in making it an entire classroom of students was changed.
When Nancy’s sister adopts seven-year-old Taylor, aunt and niece find kindred spirits in each other. This story explores what makes us family and when the color of one’s skin does and doesn’t matter.
Eldrena is confused when she sees a poster and students say the same thing. She asks her Tewa-Hopi grandmother what the words mean. In the process she hears a story that teaches her about integrity no matter how much time passes.
A woman from Rwanda tells of a child who faces a difficult choice when he finds himself face to face with the man who murdered his parents. Is there a place untouched by war, murderous alternatives and biases?
High school students organizing a memorial service for a teacher triggers an emotional process for Eunice Jarrett who is asked to step out of her comfort zone, again. Family life and school life create race-related expectations.
Linda’s father had a little black book. He said it was written just for her and he said it was full of all the values she needed for a successful life. Linda loved it. She believed in it, but it took time to understand just what a gift it was.
This story is about how a mentally-challenged young man teaches his classmates the meaning of acceptance and understanding.
Kucha’s grandfather had a marketable skill after the Civil War. With plenty of hard work, life was good in Mississippi but one incident changed everything and suddenly the whole family became immigrants – packing up and moving out of Mississippi.
This is Zahra’s personal story of reconnecting with her siblings. On a journey back to their Louisiana birthplace, Zahra and her siblings uncover a story of an event that affects the lives of their family, community and the nation.
Laura grew up on a street with many kinds of Jews. As different as they were, they had one thing in common: no one talked about WW II or the Holocaust. Two young children find a way to memorialize the unspoken through a make believe graveyard.
One day during the 1950’s, a mixed-race couple came to visit the Atwood’s farm in rural Wisconsin. What happened to cause a young girl to question her mother’s response to the couple?
In the melting pot of the very poor, Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, NY neighborhood, there lived Irish, Italians, Blacks, Polish, Jews and one Holocaust escapee kid — Erica. Kids only played with their own kind on their own block, but since Erica didn’t belong to any of those groups, she got to play with everybody. For Erica, that’s how unexpected friendships (and unexpected prejudices) formed.
What happens when the warm connection between a black woman and a white woman is broken by insensitivity and unconscious white privilege? Are courage, honesty, forgiveness and hope enough to heal the separation?
Dovie shares her knowledge of the Indian Boarding School experiement with her daughter and us. She weaves history, biography, autobiography and personal reflection in the story that she never “wanted” to tell. But some stories need to be told…
The “Indian Experiment” in education, the government boarding schools, is unknown to many Americans, yet affects us all. Following forty years of study of these stories, Dovie knew she had to share what she’d learned that would be essential to her daughter, and all of us. She weaves history, biography, autobiography and personal reflection in this story that she never “wanted” to tell. But there are some stories that need to be told…
Kiran reveals his experiences with racism as one of the few brown boys in his town contrasted with the kindness of strangers as well as the inspiration he received from his storyteller teacher, Mr. George.
Donna’s father is quite a trickster, and one afternoon in the 1980’s, while her large family was traveling through the south, they ran into a potentially dangerous situation. Donna’s saved the lives of the family by utilizing his special skill.
Elizabeth tells of her struggle to be comfortable with her own identity outside the boundaries of the racial norm. She describes the awkward struggles of adolescent love while discovering the acceptance of her own racial features.
Megan was confused when her 9th grade classmates reacted differently to the assassination of President Kennedy than her family did. Who was right? She learns to listen to her heart to find what was truth for her.
In 1988 Jim and his wife lived with a family in Nicaragua. Jim learned about gratitude by watching how a young girl appreciated something as simple as a single piece of gum or a sheet of paper.
When camp started, tension was high between the Chinese kids and Black and Latino kids in Robin’s group. But over the summer, the children began to let their defenses down and make new friends. That is, until Daniela returned.
In 1972, Marsha worked for the Peace Corp in Jamaica and became friendly with a neighbor named Yvonne. By casually mentioning the town she lived near Marsha set in motion a dream that Yvonne would sacrifice everything to fulfill.
During World War II, a young African-American couple relocates from Georgia to Vanport, Oregon in pursuit of the American dream. But the dream turns into a nightmare due to a major catastrophe and they have to decide if they should move back home.
At an event honoring Vietnamese Americans, a young man shares his American immigrant story. The community of listeners that storytelling creates makes a new country feel like home.
A transracial, non-traditional family (two white women with one biological child and one adopted child who was born in China) have dealt with many rude questions and often have not been perceived as a family.
Olga explores the various labels for her ethnic group: Mexican, American, Mexican American, Latina, Chicana and so on. In doing so, she finds out how she wants to define herself and her pride in her cultural life.
During the 1950s, Gwen’s mother, like many African American parents, sent her children down south for the summer. Gwen remembers the rich experiences with her grandparents on the farmas well as painful and dangerous racist encounters.
Bangladeshi-American Muslim storyteller, Arif Choudhury, shares stories about growing up as the only “brown-skinned boy” in the neighborhood and how 9-11 changed how others might perceive him and his family.
In three short anecdotes, the teller (Milbre as a child) and her small daughter, Elizabeth, try to make sense of a world in which we are taught to fear “the other”.
Gerry Fierst says, “religion connects us to all who have gone before and all who will come after we are gone.” As he grows older he hear the words of his ancestors and passes the tradition of the blowing of the shofar on to his children.
In high school, Olga was told by her counselor that her Mexican family was too poor for her to go to college. Hear how she found a way around this negative advice.
In 1972 Diane marries “outside her race” and her mother-in-law refuses to attend the wedding, among other things. What happens to the family’s relationship afterward is anyone’s guess. A story of hope and a reminder that love conquers many things.
When in high school, Archy and his Thai family get into a fight about him dating a black girl. Years later, when Archy states he is gay, he finds that his mother’s racial attitudes have conveniently changed.