Gathering, Telling, Preparing the Stories: A Vehicle for Healing

  • Sandra Starks
  • Halaevalu F. Ofahengaue Vakalahi
  • M. Jenise Comer
  • Carmen Ortiz-Hendricks


This article connects the process of healing for women of color and indigenous people with the process of sharing their oral stories. It summarizes lessons learned from a project that facilitated the discussion and processing of issues of survival and success in the academy among women of color faculty in social work programs across the United States (Vakalahi, Starks, & Ortiz-Hendricks, 2007). A surprising yet perhaps expected dimension of the journey toward collaboration and publication was the shared experiences of personal and collective healing among the editors, contributing authors, and women who read these shared experiences and later expressed interest in telling their stories. The process of collecting the voices confirmed the continued experiences of sexism and racism in society while deepening the understanding of the need for support and sisterhood. Reflections on the process were as significant as the collected inquiry data. The critical need for validation and support of indigenous practices, alternative pedagogy, and systems of change at all levels of the academy and society is stressed in this discussion.


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