Racial Justice Story Studio Alignment and assets for racial justice narrative change
Purpose brought together racial justice organizations ranging from community organizations, to major media outlets, to funders of programs that serve marginalized communities, and co-developed the Racial Justice Storytelling Toolkit- to build capacity around storytelling to provide both near and long-term support to the movement and equip organizations to tell stories in a way that drives sustainable change.
How does a partner in impact strategy, cultural narrative shaping, and ecosystem change show up for a movement in crisis?
In Summer 2020, racial injustice in the United States, from the subtlest microaggression to the ugliest act of violence, was under a harsh spotlight after a number of high-profile killings of Black Americans that are far from the first. While several actors were ruminating on the need to transfer the outrage around these latest injustices “from a moment to a movement”, Purpose saw an opportunity to build a concrete pathway to help ensure this happens in the long run.
Using our professional insights and observations about where public engagement around racial justice falters, Purpose put forth a proposal to lend its narrative-shaping experience to leading actors in the movement — a model of storytellers strengthening other storytellers to create the foundation of a fundamental cultural shift to last far beyond the latest news cycle.
Role & Vision
Purpose uses public mobilization and storytelling to shift policies and change public narratives where it matters most- so we can offer assets and experience to actors in the racial justice movement as storytellers strengthening other storytellers.
Rooted in insights from a survey fielded to assess where active organizations the racial justice movement could use more advocacy storytelling support, we developed the Racial Justice Story Studio — a two-part workshop for racial justice organizations ranging from community organizations, to major media outlets, to funders of programs that serve marginalized communities.
Based on those discussions, exercises, and eventual alignments, we co-developed a racial justice storytelling toolkit, our hope being to build capacity around storytelling to provide both near and long-term support to the movement by equipping organizations to tell stories in a way that drives sustainable change.
Theory of Change
A cross-functional team of Purpose strategists, campaigners, and creatives partnered with professionals who hold racial justice strategy or storytelling priorities across media, philanthropy, and community crisis response to provide support in:
1. Identifying the most strategic narrative priorities for the movement to push forward in this pivotal moment
2. Framing key narratives so that they resonate with target audience segments
3. Exploring positive visions for storytelling success to orient the narrative change
4. Creative moodboarding around storytelling priorities
5. Workshopping digital audience targeting and tactics
We sent Purpose’s immediate and extended cross-sector network of nonprofits, philanthropies, to ask where this community saw opportunities for using narrative change to drive justice.
Participants shared thoughtful insights and ideas, from using racial justice storytelling as a means of capturing cultural openness to talking about race, to correcting approaches that center white audiences as the spectators of marginalization and violence, to pushing storytelling beyond a transactional tactic into a long-lasting way to build power.
Professionals who influence racial justice work, cultural storytelling at scale, or both joined two workshop sessions designed to uplift opportunities to take forward aligned messages and frames.
Workshop 1: Movement Storytelling Goals & Strategy
Our first workshop explored where there were opportunities for alignment in message content, audience targeting, and engagement tactics among the range of actors using storytelling to drive narrative change in the realm of racial justice.
- 1. 3 priority narratives
- 2. Systemic storytelling frames
- 3. Visions of change
- 4. Audience insights
- 5. Key messaging frames
- 6. Digital content strategy
Workshop 2: Creative Storytelling Approaches
Our second workshop invited participants to explore how they might artistically express the identified movement priorities, showcasing opportunities for creative variation as well as shared movement identity and alignment.
- 1. Visual moodboards
- 2. Movement attributes
- 3. Tone of voice
- 4. Hashtag exploration
- 5. Toolkit contents wish list
Our collaboration resulted in an open-access toolkit containing a mix of ready-to-share racial justice campaigning language and assets and strategic direction for future storytelling assets and decisions.
Our work allowed Purpose and its partners to explore what a coordinated racial justice movement narrative effort could look like across sectors in the critical environment of 2020 America and beyond. At a time when lives continue to depend on changing perceptions and behaviors around race, such coordinated alignment and investment, taken in complement with each actor’s own unique reach, relationships, and influence, is a positive step in pushing important narratives forward as a collective movement for justice.
Purpose has continued to maximize opportunities to combine coalition-led co-creation with capacity building to further narrative change outcomes in racialized spaces, most notably in its Voices for Economic Opportunity Incubator launched that same year.
for Equity & Evidence