More Than a Comeback Story | Sojourners

More Than a Comeback Story

Reducing groups of people to "just" the struggle is a way of shrinking their stories.
An illustration of a head opening in half, with flowers flourishing to one side and wilting on the other.
Dusan Stankovic / Getty Images

I RECENTLY LISTENED to a riveting podcast with therapist Chichi Agorom, author of The Enneagram for Black Liberation, who centered Black liberation and well-being. She described her own desire in our society to be known beyond the “resilient Black woman” label, and she wanted to cultivate spaces that embraced Black liberation in the form of ease, rest, and wholeness.

In a world that can often reduce Black people to stories of grit and resilience, it took time for me to realize how resilience could be a constricting filter in telling our stories. Resilience undoubtedly makes for compelling drama, because we love a good comeback story. We feel buoyant when hearing about the person who spent 10 years in solitary confinement but somehow integrated back into society. Or the refugee who fled war-torn circumstances and, against all odds, made a life for themselves and future generations in a new land. Or the inner-city student who graduated first in their class despite an underfunded school. Hollywood makes a living from stories like Homeless to Harvard and The Pursuit of Happyness.

While we all need stories of hope, reducing groups of people to just the struggle is a way of shrinking their stories. In her popular Ted Talk “The Danger of a Single Story,” Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie described her first encounter with her American college roommate. Her roommate was surprised that, as a Nigerian, Adichie enjoyed listening to popular singer Mariah Carey or that she even knew how to use basic appliances. Yet, in an almost confessional tone, Adichie described her own trip to Guadalajara, Mexico. Prior to visiting, she had envisioned people in Mexico desperately clawing their way out to cross the U.S. border. Instead, what she witnessed was a city with beautiful people, thriving businesses, and a deeply rooted culture.

Read the Full Article

​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $3.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!