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Black Voices: Home In Story

ken williamsStorytelling is a tool for self-expression; a method for transferring information. It is a practice so innate to our human construction that we perform story, naturally, several times daily, without ever pausing to realize that we’ve done it. Just think… how often do we answer everyday questions with story? Ever found yourself wrapped-up in a tale after being asked “why”? Sure you have.

For me, story has been a leading component of my conscious life. I am a writer by education and a storyteller by heart. It wasn’t long after graduation, on my quest to remain creatively active, did I realize that my voice didn’t only have to be confined to the page. I exchanged my computer’s word processor for a camera and discovered the highest form of expression for my voice. My medium for storytelling became video.

My YouTube channel Exit Disclaimer, Ken Like Barbie, began as a hobby. For years I had maintained written blogs, but what video did to my blogging was summarize all of my favorite aspects of storytelling. I felt thorough and fully expressed on this new medium. So naturally, when I was diagnosed with HIV in 2010, I found refuge on the stage of my video-blog, and that refuge led me to find home in story.

When I think about what makes a story compelling for me, I tend to ask myself: what are the components of a story that resonate with me? What should a compelling story do and what are my strengths in telling that story? How can I capitalize on my strengths? Recently, I had the pleasure of conducting #MakeitReel, a storytelling training for others who are living with HIV and three organizations (Family Health Centers of San Diego Exit Disclaimer, San Ysidro Health Center Exit Disclaimer, and Vista Community Clinic Exit Disclaimer) in San Diego around these same elements of digital stories and what makes them so compelling (see the videos they created on YouTube Exit Disclaimer).

Digital stories are the same stories we’ve been telling for generations, but now they are online. They provide many of us the opportunity to share colorful information in a cyber-savvy world of social media. Digital stories can take many forms, but because they are online you can heighten the visibility of social messages and lure your audience into a call of action.

This can be particularly helpful for bringing awareness to the HIV positive community. I have personally committed my voice to the craft of digital storytelling for the last 6 years and what I have found is that there is always a community waiting to be built from the stories we have in us to share.

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