Friday, April 25, 2008

NPR Story Corps

My alarm this morning spoke in the voice of 10 year-old Rasheed McKenstry, interviewing his mother, Rhonetta McKenstry, for NPR's Story Corps. Today my heart leapt out of bed before the rest of me. I could listen to these Story Corps recordings all day long. I think once I'm officially all done with my PhD I will.

Here's the text of today's interview featured on Morning Edition. It's better if you listen to it live, though.

Morning Edition, April 25, 2008 · When Rahsheed McKenstry, 10, and his mother Rhonetta McKenstry entered the StoryCorps booth in Memphis, Tenn., he quickly found his own interview style ... a style that uncovered hard truths.

"OK, Ms. Rhonetta McKenstry," he asked, "what are some of the biggest lessons that you learned during your childhood?"

"I feel like I'm at a job interview," she replied.

"I had a very good mother, which is why I think I'm a very good mother," she said. "She used to fix me breakfast in the morning whenever she could. She gave me kisses like I do you and your brother. And she yelled at me... It means she cares."

He asked, "OK, so why are you not still married?"

"Because my ex-husband was horrible," she said.

"Was he violent toward you?"


"Was he violent toward anybody else?"

"You and your brother, which is why I won't let him see you."

"How does that affect you?" she asked.

"It affects me because I'm inquisitive. I want to know everything and he's my father and I should know more. It kind of makes me feel depressed and mad. Not depressed, but kind of mad that those things happened to my mother," he said.

"What kind of man do you think you're going to be?" she asked.

"A very great man — better than my father, for sure."

He asked, "How do you feel about [my brother] Chris and I?"

"See, now you're trying to make me cry," she said. "You have to understand I'm proud of the two of you. Y'all have different personalities. Chris is happy-go-lucky, but you ... I'm just in awe of you sometimes. Y'all keep me going. Everything I do is really for the two of you."

He asks his mother, "Why is your nose turning red?"

"[Because] I'm about to cry," she said. "How many times have you ever seen me cry?"

"Three times. This is my third," he answered.

"I love you, Rahsheed."

"I love you, too, Ma. Thank you for answering all my questions."

Rhonetta McKenstry will be entering law school this fall. She plans to specialize in family law to help women who have suffered from domestic violence.


the ice chewer said...

This interview touched my heart. Thanks for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

I did the official audio transcript for this interview as part of my day job, and found this blog post looking for the proper spelling of Rhonette and Rahsheed's names.

They really do sound like wonderful people, don't they? I was laughing and crying through most of the tape -- Rahsheed's got an amazing intellect and sense of humor for his age! I've been so tempted to see if I can figure out a way to send them a greeting card or something and wish them both the best of luck.