Listen by seeking out stories you’ve never heard before.

The first step towards sustainable peace is listening. But listening comes in many forms, from front-porch conversations we have with neighbors, to the wide array of media, news, and culture we lend our attention to on a daily basis. We can even do this latter form of listening on our own. In choosing to pick up a book, watch a movie, or tune into a TV series that features stories, experiences, and identities we’ve never been exposed to firsthand before–or ones that we want to learn more about.

Media from diverse creators is becoming more widely available and accessible than ever before, making it ever the more important for us to listen when these stories are shared. From documentary films recounting the history of activist movements to TV dramas featuring the everyday lives of immigrant families, one of the best starting points for developing new listening skills is in actively seeking out media that provides us with new perspectives.

Resources to find and listen to new stories:

1. The ZORA Canon is a comprehensive list of literary masterworks from Black women authors. A compilation that spans from the 1800s to today, including poetry, nonfiction, classic novels and more, this list forms “a revealing mosaic of the Black American experience.”

2. Check out this list of 165 of the best films from women directors of the 21st century.

3. Read about American television’s “rural purge” during the late 20th century, and rediscover some classic shows that center around and showcase rural life. Then check out some contemporary programming centered around rural issues, concerns and interests on RFD-TV.

Watching diverse stories is not only a great way to practice listening–it provides a gateway to a more complete understanding of American history. Watch this short clip from the Netflix documentary Disclosure to learn about the intertwined histories of cinema and the lives of transgender Americans.

This listening tip is part of a weekly #PledgeToListen series which provides advice, examples, and perspectives on creating conversations across divides.

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