Interview paper


The “oral tradition” has been an integral aspect of the cultural survival of Black people and particularly Black women.  Our lifestyles on the Continent and our oppression in the Diaspora have encouraged black folks to talk our stories, not scribe them.  In Africa we could employ the services of a Griot  (storyteller, historian) or our elders to keep the family or community story alive.  Unfortunately, the Griots and the elders have been sacrificed by our forced migration to the Americas, and also by our migration from south to north.

The technocratic society of the western world discourages people from taking the time to tell and listen to their stories.  It is the stories about Black women, which are the most telling about the traditions of Black folks and our adaptable survival strategies.  It is the stories of women that are the most easily forgotten or dismissed.

You are to choose a Black women (at least 1 generation older than yourself) and record her story.  A tape recorder is helpful in this assignment, but not necessary.

Step 1 – Prepare a list of questions that reflect some of the topics and issues discussed in this class.  Make sure these questions stimulate a detailed response.  Remember, African/American/Caribbean women are not used to being asked about their lives and are very likely to dismiss the importance of their experiences.

Step 2 – Conduct the interview.  Try to conduct the interview in a relaxed setting with few distractions.  Allow at least 1 1/2 – 3 hours to conduct the interview.  Request and listen carefully to anecdotal stories, e.g. trips down south, trips for the Caribbean, dating, political events, childbirth, child rearing, health, etc.  These provide the richness in Black women’s lives.

Step 3 – Create a 10-page paper from your findings, which includes a summary, in narrative format, of this woman’s life, some demographic data and an ANALYSIS of her experiences, which reflects your understanding of the material covered in class.  USE REFERENCES TO SUPPORT AND SUBSTANTIATE YOUR ANALYSES AND OPINIONS.  INCLUDE A BIBLIOGRAPHY AND A TITLE.  USED STANDARD FORMAT FOR CITATIONS AND BIBLIOGRAPHY.  Line spacing 1.5-2.0. Font size 10-12pt.  Do not double double space between paragraphs, just indent.

2 readings listed on Sakai will assist you in this assignment:

Armstrong-West, S. “Shaping a life”, and

Etter-Lewis, G., “Black Women’s Life Stories”.

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