...God told me to...
Yeah, it might sound slightly crazy or messianic whenever someone says "God told" him to do anything. Gyasi understands that. I mean, THE GOD, took the time to come out of the sky and tell Gyasi ANYTHING? Yeah, right--as if God's not more focused on important things like poverty, world peace and/or the final chapter in the Harry Potter saga. Still, as crazy as it sounds, Gyasi is not David Koresh or Michelle Bacchman; he just feels that, yes seriously, God pushes him to write every single day and gave him certain stories to tell. It's a family trait--he comes from a family of storytellers.
Gyasi knows that he’s supposed to talk about his resume and qualifications right here. He’s supposed to say that he writes for Indian Country Today Media Network and that he is thankful to them (initially Randi Rourke, but later Chris Napolitano and Ray Cook-thank you all!) for giving him a shot and confidence in his writing. He is supposed to mention that he’s had articles in the Seattle Times, the Huffington Post, Colors NW, Crosscut.com. He also realizes that he’s supposed to scream from the mountaintops that he’s a graduate of Evergreen State College and also Columbia Law School and that he’s a practicing attorney with a firm (Crowell Law Offices) that works exclusively with tribal governments, for whom he has to write many, many briefs and memos.
The truth is, none of those things are the reasons that he writes. Gyasi, if he were being honest and not wanting to appear intellectual, would say that he writes because the Creator told him that he must; God makes him. Every since he wrote his first poem about Halloween in Mrs. Kennerly’s 3rd grade class at Vina Chattin Elementary, he fell in love with words and knew that he had a story to tell. When Gyasi, his sisters Neoma and Wendy, as well as his cousins Terrianne, Shannon, Dawn and David (and a few parents scattered here and there) all lived in a tiny two-bedroom house, he used to entertain them all and probably annoy them all by telling them stories. They used to call him “Mr. Peabody” because he seemingly always had an answer for everything.
In fact, he writes specifically because he thinks that God told him to tell the stories of people who were raised like him. People “like” Gyasi—those who come from poor, uneducated, broken families—almost never have their stories told, regardless of their skin color. Still, when you add the words “Native American” to the “poor, uneducated, and broken families,” list, you can pretty much rest assured that you will not hear that story. Simply put, Gyasi writes because he believes that all of our "poor people" stories have merit, are beautiful, and rich, even if not with money. Moreover, Gyasi feels that those poor people stories will need to be told and understood for America to truly understand Native America and for the United States to reconcile its idealism with its heinous historical treatment of Natives. Gyasi desperately wants that reconciliation for the benefit of everyone, including his son and his many nieces and nephews.