The Atlantic

The Difference Between Speaking ‘Your Truth’ and ‘The Truth’

Oprah Winfrey’s hugely impressive rise illustrates the constructive possibilities of her mantra. Her biggest missteps reveal its limits.
Source: Reuters

On Monday, as Oprah Winfrey’s stirring acceptance speech at the Golden Globes secured a place in the national conversation, Byron Tau of The Wall Street Journal tweeted, “Oprah employed a phrase that I’ve noticed a lot of other celebrity using these days: ‘your truth’ instead of ‘the truth.’ Why that phrasing?” He fretted that “your truth” undermines the idea of shared common facts.

Well, Garance Franke-Ruta replied, “sometimes you know something is real and happened and is wrong, even if the world says it’s just the way things are. It’s a call to activism rooted in the individual story, grounded in personal experience.”

Another Twitter user chimed in to add that, “it’s also a well-known tactic in building leadership in community organizing that allows people who are rarely heard to tell their story, learn that they are, in fact, not alone, connects individual experiences to systemic issues, and helps develop powerful public speakers.”

And yet, others chimed in to ask: What about the people whose earnestly held “truth” is that immigrants are ruining America; or that the

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