Danielle Brown on Carry On Friends

My People Tell Stories with Danielle Brown

Danielle Brown, Ph.D., is a Brooklyn-native with Trinidad & Tobago roots. Danielle and I have an interesting conversation as we go deep into all things music, history and culture. She discusses the importance of telling our own stories.

Danielle is trained in ethnomusicology which is the study of music in culture, and the study of music as culture. She also runs her business, My People Tell Stories, which is based on the idea that people of color should always be telling and interpreting their own stories.

In this episode we both share our passion for music and how our early experiences shaped this love. As women, we discuss the lack of representation in the music industry and I talk about how this hindered me from pursuing a career in music.

Danielle’s book is called East of Flatbush, North of Love: An Ethnography of Home. In it she talks about her experiences growing up in a Caribbean enclave, and how music was used to teach her about her history and culture. She also touches on different topics and aspects of history, like colonialism, racism and sexism in the book. She uses songs and Trinidad Creole as a way to guide and enrich the story. 

On the question of why we should even bother to tell our stories, Danielle explains that those who are telling our stories don’t often fully understand the culture. The reality is that much of our history is being told by whites, so by telling it ourselves we validate who we are. Danielle emphasizes that it’s important that we take pride in ourselves and not allow other people to tell us who we are. 

To wrap up, Danielle responds to those who have concerns about sharing their stories. Often, sharing our stories or creating content comes with the risk of being accused of cultural appropriation, losing recognition of what we create, or having things stolen. Danille gives her perspective on this. 

Key Points

  • Danielle Brown joins Carry On Friends and discusses music, history and culture, and why it’s important for us to tell our stories.
  • Danielle talks about her book, East of Flatbush, North of Love: An Ethnography of Home.
  • She explains why it is especially necessary for people of color to share their stories and history.
  • She also gives her thoughts on concerns people may have about sharing their story.

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Kerry-Ann Reid-Brown is Founder & host of Carry On Friends one of the first podcasts dedicated to the Caribbean American Experience. She is leading the way for Caribbean Podcast as the founder of Breadfruit Media, the first Caribbean podcast production company; and founder of the Caribbean Podcast Directory a place to discover podcasts by people of Caribbean Heritage.