Phoenix Art Museum presents “The Whole Story: Part IV”

Speakers onstage at storytelling event “The Whole Story,” at the Phoenix Art Museum Oct. 6, 2017. (Thomas Triolo/DD)

People from the African-American community in Phoenix told stories from their everyday lives on Friday night at the Phoenix Art Museum.

The event was part four of “The Whole Story,” a series of storytelling events featuring black speakers.

Rachel Egboro, the director of the event, said she was inspired to create the series in 2016 after all the violence she saw in the news involving African-Americans. She said she believed the narrative in the media did not tell the whole story about the black community.

“I wanted to do something that elevated and celebrated our stories,” Egboro said.

Egboro said the theme of the events is expanding the black narrative, which allows people to tell a broad range of stories from everyday life. She has one big criterion she looks for in speakers’ stories.

“As long as it’s authentic, that’s really what I’m looking for,” Egboro said.

The storytellers on Friday were Stella Kiarie, who told a story of her experience as a foster parent; Anwar Newton, who told his story of sibling rivalry; Ghazi Muhammad, who told a story of newfound appreciation for his mother; Dr. Quintin Boyce, who told a story about how his mother inspired him in his education; And Fatimah Halim, who told a story of her evolving religious beliefs.

Rashidah, an audience member who declined to give her last name, said she goes out and does something new once a month. This month, attending “The Whole Story” is what she decided to do. She said she had expected the performance to be unexciting, but it far exceeded her expectations.

“I loved it. I was pleasantly surprised,” Rashidah said.

Rashidah said she learned more about how to respect others from this event. She said one of the storytellers was familiar to her. She had seen him before and had formed her own preconceptions about him. However, she said his story gave her a new perspective.

“I thought, ‘I’m guilty.’ I had my own perceptions of him, and he had a whole different experience,” Rashidah said.

Anwar Newton, a stand-up comedian and one of the storytellers at Friday’s event, said he enjoyed telling his story. He said that unlike when he performs comedy shows, no one expects him to be funny when telling stories. Newton also said he hopes the show gives people a new perspective on the black community.

“You’re black, you have a story, so that’s the black experience,” Newton said.

Newton said that because people are individuals, there is no universal experience for any community, black or not.

“Everybody’s narrative is a little different than what you think,” Newton said.

Egboro said she hopes that “The Whole Story” events help break down barriers between races and help people relate to each other, regardless of race.

There are currently three more events planned for “The Whole Story.” Part V is scheduled for January 5, 2018, and parts VI and VII are scheduled for May 4, 2018 and September 7, 2018.