Centering the narratives of Black women, women of color: 'Stories to Tell My Daughter' returns on Sunday

The storytelling event kicks off at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 31 at Grand View University Viking Theatre in Des Moines. Tickets are available online, or at the door.

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An event showcasing the lived experiences of Black women and women of color, “Stories to Tell My Daughter,” returns on Sunday in Des Moines. The brainchild of Teresa Zilk, the storytelling event features first-person narratives that mesmerize audience-goers and allow the storytellers to “be seen and heard.”

Zilk shared details with Black Iowa News about the event, which will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, July 31 at the Grand View University Viking Theatre. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased in advance until Sunday afternoon, or at the door. Storytellers include Zilk, Antwonette Shade, Vanessa Marquis Shirley, Luana Nelson-Brown, Kennesha Woods, Calvetta Berry-Harris and Lizz Sharp.

Black Iowa News: What is “Stories to Tell My Daughter?” How was the name selected?

Teresa Zilk: “In short, it’s a storytelling experience that centers the lived experiences of Black women and women of color. It’s a platform for them to be seen and heard. It’s a place where they tell their stories the way they want to tell them and in their own voices.

The name came in a dream and is a metaphor that honors Black matriarchal power, wisdom and ancestry. I am of the mindset that stories have a kind of healing and teaching power.”

Black Iowa News: How are the storytellers chosen? (Are the storytellers all mothers?)

Teresa Zilk: “Many referrals come from previous storytellers. Sometimes I meet people that have interesting life stories and experiences and I invite them, and increasingly, many women reach out to me and express an interest in participating.

You don’t have to be a mother to be a storyteller. You don’t have to have daughters to be a storyteller. You just need to have an authentic compelling story and the wisdom that comes from having lived through an experience.”

“Stories to Tell My Daughter.” Photos by Janae Gray, owner of Janae Patrice Photography. Photos courtesy of Teresa Zilk.

Black Iowa News: What is the experience like for audience-goers and what can they expect?

Teresa Zilk: “Most people feel that they’ve experienced something special. I like to tell them that their only job for the evening is to bear witness and to be present. I challenge audience members to find themselves in the stories that are being told. To be in the audience is to laugh, to cry, sometimes get angry, to ponder, and to think about what you’ve learned and how you can apply to your life or those around you.

Audience members can expect to feel connected to the stories being told. They will learn, laugh, cry, and everything in between. These are lived experiences and sometimes the storytellers are raw in their delivery. There are stories about relationships, body image, grief, loss, birth, and everything in between. Each storyteller brings a different kind of energy and that’s exciting. Some people remark that there is a strong spiritual energy that is present. I would agree with that.”

Purchase tickets for “Stories to Tell My Daughter.”

Black Iowa News: What is the vibe like backstage with everyone before the event?

Teresa Zilk: “The vibe is genuine and supportive. There is a lot going on. People are going over their stories, getting dressed, storytellers are chatting with one another, and the photographer and videographer may be present, and then it gets quiet. We come together to set our intention for what we want to accomplish onstage. From then on, we’re on a mission to speak the truth.”

Black Iowa News: How does it feel to share your story with audiences and hear the stories of other women of color?

Teresa Zilk: “For me to hear the stories is to have a deep and abiding respect for the cultural, historical and spiritual journeys of Black women. There are so many layers that get talked about and explored. That’s what makes this experience unique. We do not have to conform to someone else’s vision of who we are or how they believe we should sound. We show up in our natural hair and everything else that makes us who we are. It is an amazing experience. It is my honor and pleasure to bear witness to the women in our community.

Everyone can benefit from experiencing “Stories to Tell My Daughter.” The event is happening Sunday, July 31, Grand View University Viking Theatre. Tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite until Sunday afternoon, or you can pay at the door.”

Photography by: Janae Gray, owner of Janae Patrice Photography. Photos courtesy of Teresa Zilk.

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