Tracy Stokes is a visionary, an educator and a relationship builder. Passionate about connecting people with their purpose, she mentors professionals and runs an organization (Young P.E.A.R.L.S) that champions young women. Most recently, Tracy started More Than A Single Story Collective, a collective of stories that gives women a voice and empowers them. She uses prose, poetry and activities to help encourage women to live more authentic and happy lives.
Tell me more about More Than a Single Story Collective?
The More Than a Single Story (MTSS) Collective exists to give voice to women and embolden them to activate their voice IN PURPOSE. I created the series to craft a space that encourages women to build their tribe of individuals who will support, empower, and encourage them. More Than a Single Story Vol. 2: Rise Up, is the second book in the series. The MTSS Collaborative motivates women to think beyond their mistakes…..because past experiences don’t determine your future.
How did you get the idea?
I got the idea for the MTSS series after I watched the Ted Talk entitled “The Danger of a Single Story” by Novelist Chimamanda Adichie. In the talk she warned that having a single view or assumption about someone is dangerous. It’s dangerous because you don’t know their background. You don’t know what led the to make the choices they make or how they feel or react in situations. This hit home for me because I used to introduce myself the same way: “Hi….I’m Tracy and I am a divorced single mother with a Master’s degree”. I always felt it necessary to explain this to new people I met so that they knew that I was educated and not a statistic out in the world just having babies. I lead with what I thought other people wanted/needed to hear. I didn’t even realize I was doing it until my former supervisor brought it to my attention. I was grateful that he suggested that I watch that 18-minute Ted Talk. It changed my ENTIRE perspective.
More Than a Single Story is a space that allows for authentic reflection of self…….the world according to YOU! When you tell your story you free your spirit and allow the path for healing and reconciliation.
How did you realize telling stories was empowering?
As I teach teenagers and young adults and mentor students in the community and in my professional life, I always encourage them to use their voice. Using your voice allows those around you to understand who you are and what you believe. It allows you create boundaries and expectations for others you are in contact with on a daily basis. I use this quote often: “Telling your story breaks barriers and inspires others to hope”. I think that people sometimes devalue their voice, their ideas, and their purpose. It is my hope for MTSS to be a community that will break these barriers.
What has the response been like?
The response has been WONDERUL! All of the writers of the MTSS vol.2 project have told me that they are so glad to have been a part of the project! They have shared the experience with their circle, and some have stated that they have friends who want to participate in the next project (which is already in the works!) J
What advice do you have for someone who is afraid to share their story?
“Your story has the power to break down barriers and inspire others to hope!” I use the quote often to inspire those who may be afraid to tell their story. Sometimes we forget that in order to grow as a community, we have to lift each other up! We have to practice Ujima , which means- Collective Work & Responsibility. The mantra is that we have to build and maintain our community together and to make our Brother’s and sister’s problems, our problems and to solve them together. To put it simply, we need each other.