Peer Interview Script: Danielle Mitchell

  1. Please give me your name, birthplace, age and whatever else you want to share.

    My name is ________. I was born in Silver Spring, Maryland and lived there until I was about ten years old. I moved to Concord, North Carolina with my mom and have lived there since I came to Atlanta for college. 

  2. Tell me about the elder community in Maryland?

    Where I’m from, in Maryland, the elderly are very prominent, a lot of old money. It’s a good mix of races, but Black and White are the big two, and they’re equally financially prosperous. Some of them are warm and friendly, will wave when you walk past, and even lend a story if you ask, I love that. North Carolina, however, where I now live, is mostly white and suburban. There’s a bit more racism here and a little less friendliness. You feel targeted as a young Black person here more often times than not.
  1. Can you describe the eldest living generation in your family?

    My grandmother who lives with me would be it. She lives with us now. She developed early Alzheimer’s, I don’t know, maybe like two years ago. She lived back home by herself, but when it got a little bit too much for her to do so, we decided it was time. She’s very old Black money, very uppity and old school on things like tattoos and music and social issues. We’re not as close as I’d like to be, but we’re also drastically different. I think this was a lesson for me to learn. 

  2. What are three words that come to mind when you think about age?

    Relative, Number, Old ?

    a. Aging?


    Wisdom, confusion, responsibility 

  3. What is your perception of the elder community in America?

    Oh, I feel like, as a whole, in America, that our elders are respected, but not at as high a caliber as other regions and countries. I feel like more often times than not, not always, but that elders in America are unfortunately and sadly looked at as more of a… yikes. I hate to say this . . . but more of a burden and hardship versus elders we can learn from. 

    a. In the Black community?

    I do feel like the Black community respects our elders, I feel like there are two sides. The first : the elders you really respect who pass down stories, who give knowledge to the youth, very Grandma’s hands-esque. Then there’s the other side of the Black elder community that kind of looks down on the youth, especially my generation. Like, they don’t necessarily respect our independence or choices and they’re very vocal about it.

  4. Describe ageism in your own words.

    Being negative or cruel towards someone at a varying age than you just because you guys differ in age. 

  5. Can you think of any examples of ageist behavior that you may be guilty of?

    I’ll admit sometimes I don’t take into account what they had to see and endure to get to where they are today, so their opinions, though sometimes a bit what the f*** to me, are really just how they were conditioned to be. I also talk in a voice I would talk to a baby in, and they’ve seen more than me so why am I doing that?

  6. Can you think of any social changes that aging brings?

    People listening to what’s best for you, like I feel like, even subconsciously, that we feel like we’re taking care of our elders by telling them what WE think is best for THEM, but we’re really taking away their sense of self. I guess.

    a. Any mental?

    I mean Alzheimer’s runs in both sides of my family, so I mean a loss of memory is what I associate it with a bit. But also I feel like your whole mindset on life and living is drastically different the more you age.

    b. Any physical?

    Maybe not being able to do as many things as you once could due to body limitations.

  7. Do you think of aging as a positive or a negative experience?

    Positive.

  8. Why?

    Always more to learn, you can also do so many more things, like travel alone or have your own place. Independence is the word I was looking for . . . just being whole to be an adult and be independent is a blessing, no matter the trials and tribulations of adulthood. 

  9. What do you look forward to about getting older?

    I look forward to the life that I’m manifesting and putting in work towards. I look forward to having a family of my own, with children to teach and watch grow and blossom from me into their own people. Like motherhood is one of the most beautiful things.

  10. What do you fear?

    The possibility of losing memories.

  11. Why?

    Since the Alzheimer’s runs on both sides, genetically…. I don’t want to say it, but you get what I’m saying. So, I just live the healthiest and most active life I can so that my brain just…I dunno…would be used enough to surpass it? 

  12. What have you learned from the elders around you?

    That you are your choices.

  13. What advice from an elder has impacted you the most?

    My Nana used to tell me all the time to do whatever made me happy, no matter what someone. That and always being your own person, because I’ve always gone against the grain. Being a Black woman is the best thing to be, and I wouldn’t want to be anything else, but it comes with its own package of things to deal with in this world.

  14. What are three things that you think happen in the typical day of a sixty year old Black woman?

    Wakes up at about 8 or 9 am. Makes breakfast for herself and her partner or just herself, washes clothes, goes for a walk outside, reads or does some sort of crossword, talks on the phone to family or church friends, watches tv, has to watch Wheel of Fortune at 6. Haha. Makes dinner, watches more tv, goes to sleep.

  15. In the typical day of a 60 year old White man?

    Wakes up, has someone make his food for him, watches tv, drinks, more tv? 

  16. How do you stay involved with the elders around you?

    I call them more often now. My nana and I used to write letters.

  17. Has this interview changed the way you think about age at all?

    It definitely has made me more aware of my actions toward them.

  18. If you could choose one word to describe this experience what would it be?

    Fun!