“I am a citizen of an America that has yet to be born.” ‚Äì Dr. Vincent Harding

American culture and narratives are rooted in a collective ambivalence about how we formed this country: rooted in both oppression and opportunity; open doors to some, closed to others; welcoming in spirit but often discriminatory day-to-day. In particular, cultural narratives about people of color, immigrants, refugees and Muslims in America lay bare the significant polarization of the country’s political beliefs and personal values.

At the Pop Culture Collaborative, we believe that our society lacks a unifying story powerful enough to foster authentic connection between millions of Americans. In its absence, our nation struggles to imagine life beyond the harmful social and economic systems, outdated personal biases and bigotry, and day-to-day behaviors that distort our individual and collective humanity. We also believe that this new story–of our civic rebirth–must ring true, and thus, that Americans can no longer evade the full complexity of our nation’s origins and founding, including our history of racial and gender exclusion.

The Pop Culture Collaborative is a five-year, multi-million-dollar philanthropic resource designed to support your efforts to drive the cultural conversations, audience experiences and personal revelations that can unlock America’s collective imagination to create this new way of life.

Experience, and now science, have proven that immersive story worlds can more reliably create empathy and relationship, increase understanding and spark imagination within mass audiences than engagement driven by logic and argument alone. Pop culture–stories and experiences that reach and engage mass audiences–help us make sense and find meaning in the world around us, and reaffirm or disrupt our beliefs and values. The most evocative stories make new ways of life feel not only possible and desirable, but inevitable.

But stories can also be deployed to deaden our sensitivity to injustice and human suffering. Disastrous public policies–from the Muslim ban, to the hyper-criminalization and incarceration of Black and immigrant communities, to the policing of women’s bodies–are often normalized by a web of harmful narratives and stories in mass media and popular culture.

The urgency of our work together is clear: when we fail to proactively shape and challenge pop culture narratives and content, diverse people in communities across the country and around the world suffer the consequences.

The Pop Culture Collaborative believes we have an opportunity–and responsibility–to create and popularize authentic, just narratives of people of color, immigrants, refugees and Muslims that tell a new story of America’s future and how we all belong in it. We each have a role to play, and we welcome your wild ideas, bold solutions and breakthrough strategies. There’s so much work to do.

Let’s begin.

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