Juan García Salazar didn’t realize something was missing until his grandmother died. She’d left him one important thing, though, and he’d been lucky enough to realize it before it was too late. What had she left?
Her stories. Passed down for generations, elders’ stories were more than entertainment – they were markers of our history and culture. Listening to his grandmother, he realized our culture was dying along with the elderly. Their stories had to be preserved! But how?
He decided to travel across Ecuador extensively, collecting the stories of Black elders. They talked, and just as he had done with his grandmother, he listened. This time, however, he recorded the stories or wrote them down. But he wasn’t finished.
He discovered that stories of Black elders from across the world shared common themes - tricksters like Anansi The Spider, or tales that explained occurrences in nature. They connected us to our African roots in ways nothing else could. And there’s one more thing.
Despite colonization and erasure of our Black histories, our stories connect us. We must always respect and connect to the elderly, and listen to and retell their stories – for the sake of our future and our shared Black identity!