Black Storytellers' Guide
to Everyday Liberation
"Chicago & Nem" (2022). Graphic image designed by M. Billye Sankofa Waters.
Black Storytellers’ Guide to Everyday Liberation: a radical identity praxis joint is birthed from the question: How do Black folx cultivate everyday practices of liberation? To address this, I center the voices of 18 folx (interviewed by me, between 2021- 2022.) Each person was born within the critical influence of Hip Hop across the Deep South, Southern California, NY and the Midwest and are identified as Black Storytellers. We pivot away from DuBois’ musings regarding the white gaze in 1903, “what does it feel like to be a problem,” and pivot toward #BlackFolxAreRich.
The book is organized into five mics (chapters,) with text written in highly-stylized non-fiction, including original photography, hand-written recipes, and neighborhood maps. I am clear that I write for Black folx. And I offer the invitation for other folx to listen in; this invitation is a gift. The audience for the Black Storytellers’ Guide includes Black folx, those who love Black folx, and folx interested in ways to document and honor their own family stories. I imagine an audience of folx who are committed to reflecting, dismantling, and healing.
Black Storytelling is a reflection and practice of various identities; I name three types of stories: firsthand, hand-me-down, and kaleidoscopes. We – Black folx – do it through conversing, posting, cooking, worshiping, stuntin, breathing.
As a reflection of art and scholarship, I identify Black Storytellers such as James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Romare Bearden, Zora Neal Hurston, Nikki Giovanni, Robin Boylorn, Septima Clark, Bisa Butler, D. Soyini Madison, bell hooks, and Ms. Lauryn Hill.
As a practice / method, I posit four movements for Black Storytelling: (1) Record (2) Reconnect (3) Reward (4) Repeat. These four movements are integral to every part of Black Storytelling. This is not a necessarily a linear or fixed process, but one that repeats. Because "we always have to come back to self to experience freedom. And it’s gon take more than one cycle for us to be liberated.” (Shanyce Campbell, 2020.)
This need to repeat is exactly why I created the BFAR Cypher Deck! Any one of us can do the work of "coming back to self" at home in our journal or at a gathering with a bunch of our people.
As an outcome of this project, I claim Black Storytelling as the vehicle for Radical Identity Praxis (RIP). RIP is the journey of unapologetically cultivating who we are at the Roots through Black Storytelling (reflection and practice) – asserting #BlackFolxAreRich as an affirmation of cultural wealth. This work disrupts institutional anti-Black racism (specifically naming schools) to prioritize home, which is necessary to cultivate Black folx’ wholeness and autonomy (liberation).