WNC award winning storyteller Ray Christian hits the BPR airwaves
This Friday, Nov. 10, BPR will broadcast a special episode of storyteller Ray Christian's new season of his "What's Ray Saying" podcast, a show that uses history and storytelling to explore the Black American experience from his unique perspective.
The Bronze Star military veteran, Fulbright Scholar, goat wrangler, and father of six, is a master storyteller and 12-time Moth StorySLAM Champion. Christian draws from his life experiences, which he compartmentalizes into three disparate segments: an impoverished childhood in Richmond, Virginia ghetto, 20 years serving his country in the U.S. Army, and the past two decades navigating the world of academics.
He's called Boone home during his third life chapter, and travels to Asheville to host the monthly StorySLAMS. On a recent visit, Christian stopped by the BPR studios to talk with morning host Helen Chickering, about his podcast and how how his military service helped shape him as a storyteller.
“What’s Ray Saying? is my exploration of Black American culture and history from the many facets of my life and I want to challenge the myopic expectations so many of us Black Americans face,” said Christian. “What does a Black veteran have to say about making it into the middle class? How does a Black Appalachian approach the role fashion plays in social identity? There’s a wide spectrum of experiences many of us have lived, but rarely get the opportunity to talk about.”
New episodes will delve into the following topics:
Black Medicine — Ray Christian’s mother (like a lot of other Black families) did not trust nor had easy access to medical care. From memories stemming from a first childhood visit to the doctor to military vaccinations to his current mode of family health care, Ray shares the ways self-care and healing practices performed by enslaved peoples offered needed solace and medical alternatives for generations of Black Americans and the reasons health institutions are treated with suspicion in some of these communities.
Ruffling Through Our Closet — For a time in adolescence, Ray dropped out of school. The cause — fashion. In this episode, Ray explores the role clothing has historically played in the lives of Blacks in America, from zoot suits to Soul Train to a complicated history of advertising, plus, Ray reflects on the reasons why social pressures around what he wore almost changed the course of his life.
Blacks in the Military — Having spent 20 years in the armed forces, Ray reflects on how his time as a soldier altered his class position. Speaking with fellow veteran and Richmond native, John Goode, Ray explores the history of Black military service, its relevance, social impact and the influence it has on Black veteran’s lives.