National Writing Project

Learning About Race and Racism Through Storytelling and the Arts

Summary: Professor Lee Anne Bell gives the audience at the 2011 Rural Sites Network Conference new tools to help their students build transforming stories that challenge the status quo.


Lee Anne Bell, a professor and director of education at Barnard College, Columbia University, and author of the book Storytelling for Social Justice: Connecting Narrative and the Arts in Antiracist Teaching, shared her ideas about teaching the sometimes difficult topics of race and racism at the 2011 Rural Sites Network Conferece.

Said Bell, "We ask people to operate on their learning edge, to get out of their comfort zones, to really push beyond what feels safe, and not retreat to a comfortable position. This quote from one of the white students I worked with I think captures an essential feature of the counter-storytelling community. 'When we see ourselves as contributing to a fabric, we're no longer invisible threads, on the one hand, or entire boats full of lonely self-importance, but a community.'"

Watch the Keynote Speech

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