On my flight home from Chicago the guy next to me struck up conversation and asked me what I do. I told him about StoryKeeping and we talked like old friends over the next couple hours. He asked me if I’ve “expanded my services” and I told him I could fly anywhere. He then tweaked his question and asked if I’d interviewed any African-American people. “Does StoryKeeping capture any African-American legacies?”
A couple years ago I was at an Association of Personal Historians conference. I was one of a handful of men in a room full of mostly white women, and it struck me how few minorities there were in the room. Was the business of capturing legacies for white people only?
I didn’t like the look so I reached out to an African American buddy of mine and told him I wanted to do a StoryKeeping production for his father at no charge.
My buddy was down but the family was leery at first. Some white dude wants to record my story? “No, Haby is different. You’ll see,” was my buddy’s explanation. I ended up interviewing his father-in-law instead.
It was one of the best StoryKeeping sessions ever as he absolutely nailed the concept of intergenerational identity. He spoke about how his police officer uncle inspired the younger family members to do more. Because his uncle could be a shining example of doing what’s right, he could see what he was capable of becoming.
Be the Example
I felt it was important to have an example of someone on my website that didn’t look just like me. All legacies are important, all legacies deserve to be captured, and all legacies should be passed down to future generations. Capturing a legacy is not for the storyteller to feel important or an exercise in narcissism, but for delivering strength and understanding to future generations who are going to need all the help and sense of connection we can deliver.
So this morning I spot this article about a Lynching Memorial opening in Alabama yesterday and I can’t help but think of my travel buddy from Sunday’s flight home. He was an African-American guy about my age. Originally from Alabama and now serving our country in El Paso, Texas on a U.S. Army base. He’s serving all of us.
How are you expanding yours?