GRLTALK x Rayshauna Gray
Full Name: Rayshauna Gray
Location: Cambridge, MA
Favorite Food of the Moment: Gimme spicy stuff or give me death.
First Food Memory: I grew up in a multigenerational household with my mom, maternal grandparents, aunts, and uncles. My grandmother, who baked, cooked, and hosted most of the dinner parties and family reunions.
While I doubt it’s my earliest food memory, tiptoeing around the dining room of my childhood home in Chicago sticks out in my mind. Memories of scampering all over the basement holding up ladles and crystal bowls call out to me. Marveling at all the textures, colors, and smells that permeated the house definitely left an impression on me. My house was always jam-packed with German chocolate cakes, elaborate sides, and formidable main courses.
I grew up associating food with love and care born out of preparation, comfort, and abundance. When I grew up, I came to associate the lessons with my own prowess.
Beverage Of Choice:
When I’m greeting the day: Water followed by black coffee
When cozy at home: Ginger or Holy Basil tea
When networking: Stella or Guinness
When tearing up a cheese plate: Malbec, malbec, malbec
When in a dark liquor mood: Old Fashioned’s
Tell Us About Your Latest Project(s): I’m writing my first solo book Roseland, which is about the last 200 years of U.S. history through seven generations of women in my family. We begin our journey in the Mississippi Delta before the Civil War, come to my hometown Chicago for a couple generations, and wrap with me in Harvard Square a few months ago.
I’m also researching the last 400 years of Black history in Massachusetts at Tufts, wrapping up a history design fellowship at Harvard, serving on a couple nifty committees, and consulting.
What keeps you excited about your work? I’m a storyteller at my core. Gathering, interpreting, and sharing our collective story through historical research makes me feel more rooted than any other work I’ve ever done. Knowing that every generation will have to contend with the existential questions make me feel connected to every person who’s ever lived and will ever live.
For me, history is one of very few things that feels inherently meaningful and always relevant.
Helping communities cultivate a sense of curiosity, inquiry, and humility about our cultural moment makes me feel really fulfilled.
How can the GRLSQUASH Community show up for you? Thanks for asking! People can learn more about what I’m up to and watch videos of my readings on my website www.theideologue.info. My book will be out in Spring 2020 (Belt Publishing), so keep an eye out for a pre-order link on this page.
My book is an extension of over a decade of serving as my family’s historian. I’d really like to support people who are new to the work, so I’m live tweeting my research, reflection, and writing process here.