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Ex Fabula: Speaking Up. Speaking Out.

Photo by Art Montes
Storyteller Angelique Harris

This week we’re featuring two stories from women who spoke up when they recognized disparities in race relations. Rather than staying silent, each woman stood her ground in very different situations that involved a similar theme, race and identity.

In January, Angelique Harris, the Board President of the Cream City Foundation took to the stage as our guest storyteller at our "Belonging" event. Angelique recalled the travel tours that she and her cousin used to take with their two aunts. At 8 or 9 years old, Angelique and her cousin were very aware that their quartet was the only group of color on the bus. They were also the only children on the bus and were time and again seated in the back of the bus while the rest of the travelers rotated seats at every rest stop.  As they went to board the bus one last time before arriving at Niagara Falls, and realizing that they were again, assigned the last seats on the bus, one of Angelique’s aunties refused to board until these seating arrangements were changed.  With her other aunt and cousin already boarding, what was Angelique to do?

Credit Ex Fabula
Ex Fabula
Storyteller Chelsea Tokuno

Made possible with support from the Wisconsin Humanities Council and the Wisconsin Arts Board, Ex Fabula Fellows have been prominent storytellers throughout Season Seven. Chelsea Tokuno is one of those Fellows. Growing up as a child in Oahu, Hawaii, Chelsea was an avid reader and began writing stories at a young age. Though she is of Pacific Islander decent and was surrounded by a predominantly “brown, Pacific Islander community,” Chelsea’s characters usually had pale skin and blue or green eyes. As an adult student living in a Milwaukee suburb, Chelsea decided to join a book club, where she found herself the only person of color. When she began adding authors of color to the reading materials something interesting happened to Chelsea’s book club. 

We are very proud of the Ex Fabula Fellowship program, which has welcomed community members to use the art of storytelling to explore challenging topics and inspire meaningful dialogue. The first Ex Fabula Fellowship is focusing on the topics of privilege and oppression. The goal has been to leverage personal stories to inspire community-led dialogue around some of the most pressing issues in the Greater Milwaukee area–segregation and economic and racial inequality and we are very proud of the progress we have all made with these dialogues.

The last Storytelling Event, the May All-Stars event, will be held on Saturday, May 14. We’ll bring all of this season’s audience favorites together for a night that is sure to be a "Game Changer."