telling the story
August 21, 2009 § 5 Comments
you know last winter, around december, i was on twitter chatting as one does, and through the convo, i had an idea of interviewing my cousin who lives in rural south carolina. she and i are only a year apart. and every summer i would go down south for a couple of months to hang out with my cousins. anyways, we always played city mouse country mouse. and didnt really talk that much when we were teenagers. but she was my inspiration for becoming a doula.
anyways, i had this idea of interviewing her, she has three kids, has been on govt assistance and now works as a social worker for teenage moms. i wanted to interview her about being a single mom, living in the rural south, and what that means in terms of her and her clients ability to access govt assistance. and i wanted to look at that and then look at my interactions with govt assistance, as a partnered mama living in the urban midwest whose working with teenage moms. sort looking at these threads of family, and relations, north and south, single, partnered, mama hood, rural and urban…just our life stories…and what that meant through the framework of a welfare office…building off of conversations we had while i was preggers and studying to be a doula…
well i was thinking of doing it. and then i was told that partnered mamas comparing themselves to single mamas was insulting to a certain single mama who i had a lot of respect for. and so i put it on hiatus because i wanted to think about that. i wanted to think about what stories do i tell. what does it mean to be a writer. ethically can i only tell my story. what does my story mean. how do i feel about people who write about mother hood but are not mothers themselves.
do i resent the fact that because they are not mothers they probably have a lot more time than i do to write about motherhood? do i feel that only mothers can write about motherhood? what about people who are not mothers but write about their mothers. or their sisters who are mothers. or the parents of their god children.
considering all the people who weave in and out of my life how can i write my story without telling the stories of others as well through my eyes.
how do i write about sisterhood without writing about my sisters.
obviously there are incredible ethical questions in writing. whose story do we tell. and how. and what do we think of as a story anyways. and how do we choose the stories that we do.
but i realize that i must be courageous enough to face these questions. that i have known for as long as i can remember that i am a story teller. and part of being a story teller. or following any god calling. is to face the ethics of how we do our calling in this fucked up world. and to me part of being a radical woman of color is facing those questions. around origins, accountability, ethics, framing, voice.
so i am going to do this lil interview series. esp. since i am out of the country for so long and feel disconnected to my blood family. i havent been to homecoming in ages. i miss pine trees and sand and broken bridges. dirt roads and rusted pick up trucks.