June 01, 2011

India's Song Is My Song Too

Legacy - something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past; Pride - A feeling of pleasure from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired; Lineage - direct descent from an ancestor, esp a line of descendants from one ancestor...


As large as the continent of Africa is, it is not; nor will it ever be enough to simply speculate about the notion that this place... this foreign... completely unfamiliar land mass holds the mystery and history of my origin.

Perhaps that's why black Americans have such a disconnect with Africans or other black Americans, for that matter. We have no past. We have no connection to our heritage. For the most part, our heritage begins with the rapidly fleeting "old plantation" stories once shared by the old aunts, grandmothers, grandfathers and uncles who've transcended this life and those important spoken glimpses into our past most likely died with them.

Was it Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone...or could it have been Cameroon or Senegal.

Like any other continent...the people that live in different countries, territories and regions vary in customs, traditions, and physical characteristics.

Who am I? Where am I from? How did I get here? What's my story?

Curiosity definitely got the best of me a few months back. So, I joined Ancestry.com. Surprisingly, I was able to trace my family tree back to my Great-grandmother's grandfather.

His name was Beverly Hope, born on a plantation in Tallulah, MS in 1820. His mother was from Georgia and his father was from North Carolina.

Sadly, when I attempted to find them the old documents changed. The categorizing of my family went from listings that included names.... to my family being listed as property...like a wood stove or livestock.

Grandfather Beverly's mother could have been BLACK FEMALE, 28 or MULATTO FEMALE, 32 or BLACK FEMALE, 18. There's something heartbreaking and numbing about glancing into the past and realizing people... my family...were chattel.

....nothing more.

Please don't mistake this post as anything other than what it is.... a thought that haunts me from time to time. A hypothesis as to the reason so many of my young black sisters and brothers seem lost and void of direction.... I didn't say all. I said many. A question I quietly beseech an answer from God about from time to time.

I heard India's Song this morning and realized it's not just India's Song...

....it's my song too. And I'm grateful for the power of her words.