We’ll be headed to Great Britain it seems, as that’s our main stock –Scotland primarily with the family trees I’ve found on my side (which pleases my Outlander fan daughter). There are some Irish roots among us, too (who knew my hubby was almost a quarter Irish?), and some Western Europe, Finland/Northwest Russia, Scandinavia, Italy/Greece, Iberian Peninsula and European Jew.
While most of their tests came back 100 percent European, mine was 98 percent. The other two percent? Middle East (1 percent) and Senegal (1 percent). Knock me over with a feather. Because of family stories, I was expecting some Native American in there somewhere, but apparently not.
I’m thrilled to possess some drops of diversity in my personal genetic cocktail. This knowledge led to much immediate consideration, and questions. As a white woman who has never borne the burden of racial discrimination, I wondered about distant ancestors… Senegal was a notorious gateway for the slave trade from the 16th through 19th centuries.
We now live in a small Southern seacoast town brimming with history. The first European settlement in the country, though it didn’t last, was on Parris Island. Downtown Beaufort boasts many antebellum homes, still standing because when the Union showed up in 1861, landowners simply fled.
Just across the bridge to the Sea Islands, you can still explore Gullah culture in food, art, and at The Penn Center , a treasure of African American history. Founded in 1862 as a school for freed slaves, the site was also used as a meeting and retreat center by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
While visiting the small museum there with a friend a year or so ago, we wondered about an object on display. I thought initially it was something used with livestock. She figured it out before I did - shackles. I’d never seen them in person before.
It was chilling.
On that day, I felt sad and sobered, but not personally connected to that history. I never had to live it. But now I wonder if, perhaps, an ancestor long ago did.
how song carries
In President Obama’s moving farewell address this week, he said, “Regardless of the station we occupy, we all have to try harder.”
He also said, “I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans who are just as patriotic as we are.”
still a thousand drops
poems ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.
Recently I visited with a brave and thoughtful family member, and the subject of a ban on Muslims, proposed by the incoming President during his campaign, surfaced.
“If there’s a ban on Muslims,” he said with a wry smile, “we’ll all register as Muslims.”
Big thanks to the wonderful Keri rounding up Poetry Friday this week at Keri Recommends. Enjoy the offerings!