My Heart Breaks\Use of DNA to research African heritage

I actually wrote this back in 2006, but a post I recently read at Womanist Musings.

Lost Ancestry: I am a descendant of slaves

And I felt so connected to the sentiment expressed, I thought I’d republish that long ago written blog here.

POSTED BY “Mohamid al Goldberg”—African slaves were sold to europeans by other africans. who cairs about relatives in crumby old africa? find out who yours are, go see them and puch them in they nose.

I CARE!!!!
Do you have any idea how painful it is to sit around during Multi-culti month and have absoluetly nothing?

I have no langague
I have no music or song
I have no myths or stories to tell
I have no rituals to explain
I have no dance to dance
I have no knowledge of my people that I can depart or even take part in.

I have nothing. I do not know where my people come from. The majority of Americans (whether they care to or not) can point to at least one place on the world map and know where they came from. They can learn all about that place and take joy in it.

I have none of that.
And what makes it worse is that IT WAS PLANNED TO BE THIS WAY! It wasn’t planned by the Africans this way. The actions of men long dead and unknown have the power to this very day to make me long, make me feel worthless, lost, make my eyes burn with tears, and fill my throat with screams. I have been willfully deprived.

I am so very intensely JEALOUS.

This is the article that sparked these comments.

In highschool I began to read Morgan Llwelyn who writes books about ancient Irish legends and historical Irish events. She’s absolutely an excellen author. Anyway, I began to realize how much I did not have. I had no cultural heros, sayings, songs, dances, holidays, rituals…nothing that really reflected me.

Remembering that we do have Chickasaw Indian on my dad’s side, I began to search the internet for Chickasaw websites…I found one that had some language. I learned how to say “Hello, How are you?” (Halito! Chi chukma?)

They wanted me to pay $100 for some kind of package and my internet search ended there. But for a little while I was happy with these little words I knew, because I knew that others knew them too and that somewhere they knew me.

I have held in my hands the papers that state my ancestors as “Chattel”. I have seen it and I have read the names, the ages, the prices. On my father’s side Big Quali and his wife and children where first sold in Lousianna…but it does not state where they came from.

After that, I don’t know….except that at one point, a family member killed a white man, had to flee and changed his name.

But what I *DO* know is that we have white relatives in LA. My cousin, who has tried so hard to discovery our past, found them out. She wanted to meet and invited them to the family reunion. They were game. They wanted to come! That is until they found out we are black. Then they declined all offers and stopped taking phone calls.

For years I dreamed of going there. Walking up to their door, asking for something…maybe to use the phone or directions or a drink of water. I would gaze at them all in the face and try to see if I saw me and then I would tell them. I would tell them who I am, who my father has become, and who they are to us.

It burns me up.

One day, I found Morgan Llwelyn’s e-mail address and not thinking it was her direct e-mail, I wrote her. I told her about how I loved her books. I told her about a classmate of mine, Mark who I had spanish class with. I had told him about her books and how great I thought they where. I asked him if he would be interested, cause Mark’s is (clearly) of Irish descent. He said he didn’t care about the past.

It broke my heart and made me angry. I couldn’t believe it. Couldn’t comprehend how anyone who could know anything about their ancestors simply by going to the library didn’t care. The things I would give to be able to do that.

Now, it’s not Mark’s fault. I don’t blame him for anything, but I envied him intensely..and anyone else who had/has this opportunity.

Anyway, I told Miss Llwelyn all of this and how I felt I had no place that was mine, that no place was for me.


She told me not to feel so bad. That even though I cannot be sure where on the map I came from, that Africa has such a rich history. She talked about Ghana and Egypt and how one day I would find my soul’s home. It’s not like I didn’t know about Egypt and Ghana (and Shaka Zulu. I used to try to explain to my elementary schoolmates about Shaka Zulu, but they would just laugh at his name and not listen to anything I had to say), but to know that someone could, sympathize, understand and acknowledge my pain and tried to cheer me up (especially my favorite author!) did a world of good for me.

Although it could not (and did not) qwell my jealousy and anger, it pushes me to keep looking. And I will keep looking and I will cry alot.


3 thoughts on “My Heart Breaks\Use of DNA to research African heritage

  1. Thanks to the Womanist Musings for bringing me here today. Nothing I can say will bring you the knowledge you seek, and that makes me sad. Your white relatives have lost something important by not knowing you. The ancestors watch from wherever they are and see your care for them, even with all that you don’t know. I agree with Ms. Llwelyn: you will find the home of your soul. Sometimes that’s the best we can do.

  2. I’m a mutt. My parents have no idea what our family history is. My dad tried to figure it out. He got…German, Dutch, English, Irish, Scottish, Native American, Romani, African, and French.

    I really don’t care about my family past. The dreams of dead people’s hearts don’t make me. I make me.

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