“The Past Is Not Always Past:” A Conversation with Edwidge DanticaT [An Excerpt]

Black women certainly are at the center of my stories. I think part of this is from  my personal experience of growing up with women who are very powerful—to me—but very vulnerable in their society. That duality has always struck me, watching how people have to live in these situations, live in the bodies that we live in, and have to contort who we are in different spaces. Especially if you are poor and female in very stratified society. I think that as vessels of memory, of people who carry their stories, I see that as more than symbolism, I see that as survival. When you attach migration to it, there is a hunger in people like me to know everything from the story tellers, the story carriers in my life, because I absolutely need those stories. I desperately need them. I especially need them for the next generation of my family. I need them for  daughters and nieces, and for my nephews too. I need  them to know how we lived before they knew us. I need them to know who we were before we came here. I need them to know how we managed to survive, how we managed not to die. I need them to have these stories as tools for their future. In migration it becomes even more important, because you are so afraid to lose all that. You’re separated from the physical space where you were born. You can go back but it’s always changing. You’re always changing. What you are left with are the stories, and these stories come in bodies. And for me, it’s often a black female body like mine.

+Edwidge Danticat, “The Past Is Not Always Past:” A Conversation with Edwidge Danticat