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BC2 2019 speaker profile: Michelle “Mush” Lee on the deeper connections across our lives

“Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.”
― Chimamanda Adichie

I am a storyteller. I am a poet. I am a stepmother and birthmother. I am a cultural movement worker and healing-informed activist, whose commitment is to an embodied ethic of justice and joy, wherever I am invited in.

As a child of voluntary immigrants—as New World and Old Country—I understand the particular experience of being neither here nor there; of being immigrant and poor, woman and artist of color, Hip Hop and Orthodox, revolutionary and merciful. Like many of those I’ve had the privilege of serving and speaking with during my tenure as a storyteller and organizational leader, I, too, have felt trapped between the Hyphen that says brown skin is culturally, here. And not. My story is my gift.

As a poet, business woman and anti-racist trainer, I’ve traveled the country designing story-based experiences for organizations committed to advancing social justice at home, and abroad. I’ve listened to stories from executive directors, new mothers and freshly minted-teenagers. No matter where I go or where I am invited in, the unifying narrative is this:

We, as humans, are yearning for deeper connections across all areas of our lives.

Art, but poetry and oral storytelling, in particular, have a magical way of drawing people in close, almost instantly. The time is ripe. Creative narratives, but as well, the pedagogical imperatives by which a story is lifted, shown and held out for the world, must urgently honor the progressive cultural movement of the moment; a movement compelled by an ethic of redemptive love and belonging. And for those among us who have committed our lives to creating courageous structures of healing, connection and service, we must rally around new strategies for how best to tell the true and whole story of our lives.

Michelle will be a keynote speaker at BC2 2019, discussing how best to tell the story of our lives. A recent Harvard University, Project Zero Fellow, Mush is frequently a featured speaker on spoken word and hip hop pedagogies, racial justice and women of color in leadership.

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