Identity In Progress

Recently, I saw a social media post of a former classmate in reference to his ancestry results. Like most African Americans, I have wondered about my own lineage. When I’ve asked the question, few family members can speak beyond their great-grandparents. A few years ago I attempted to create a family tree but when suggestions for next of kin appeared I was be completely lost. I didn’t know who was married to whom or all the children names to keep up the momentum. After several attempts, frustration took over and I pushed these ideas to the side.

The furthest generation I know about is my great-grandparents. I knew my father’s family was from Memphis because we traveled every summer there to celebrate my great grandfather’s birthday. He lived to be one hundred years old. After he transitioned around the time I was in middle school, the trips to Tennessee got far and few in between. I never got the opportunity to meet my paternal great-grandmother but I always heard that she was a very pretty Native American.

 

My mother’s family was from St Louis. However, we never traveled to Missouri as a family. I only remember meeting my maternal great-grandmother once. Her reputation proceeded her so I wasn’t upset about not getting to know her. My mother spoke often of her quick temper and no-nonsense approach toward kids. The only memories I have is of her scowling and looking like a mirrored image of my grandmother. My maternal great-grandfather had already transitioned so I never set eyes on him in this lifetime.

 

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When my maternal grandmother transitioned in 2014, I took on the task of creating the obituary. That was a very eye-opening experience. I discovered for the first time that my maternal family originated in a small town outside of Little Rock Arkansas. In all my years it had never been mentioned. I attempted to do the last name search on my grandmother’s maiden name but my search didn’t yield any results. So once again I pushed the idea out of my mind. Over the years I’ve wondered about where my family originated but felt frustrated with each dead end. However, it is my hope that this ancestry test will provide another starting point in my journey to find out more about my lineage.

 

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I’ve had all kind of dreams on the subject in the last five years. When I started horseback riding back in 2016, I was often visited by what felt like a paternal great great grandfather. I often felt like he was guiding and protecting me as I learned to ride. I got the impression from his visits that he was a great horseman. In the visions, he was always seated on top of this beautiful brown horse. I felt very connected to him and as if he had chosen to help me discover a deeper part of who I was on that journey. In the dreams, he appeared to be Native American. For months we trotted along in slow motion then one day the horse took off running and instead of being scared I felt at home and protected. That experience gave me a greater appreciation for nature, animals and my inner wild child. I am a firm believer that spiritual beings and ancestors are very much a part of our everyday lives. It is my hope that I can confirm some of my experiences through this process.

 

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It’s funny how things around you start to happen when a particular decision is made. I have wanted to travel to Africa for at least two years but to be honest felt a little nervous about traveling their solo. I have traveled to several countries by myself at this point. In retrospect, I know my ignorance and fears have kept me from taking this journey sooner. As a youth, I remember being bombarded with negative images of Africa. Most imagery included war, rape, and starvation. But I also remember being very intrigued by the continent as well. As I book lover, I’ve read a wide array of books about African life and culture. However, unconsciously some of those negative ideas have still lingered somewhere in my psyche. But I made the decision a few months ago that I would journey to the motherland in 2019. Since I made that decision I have received two invitations to travel there with friends.

 

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I’ve also started having dreams about doing work over in South Africa. I don’t know what the work is at the moment but I feel that it will indeed be life-changing. All these I interpret as spiritual nudging. My dreams never lie to me and when I indulge in them I always come back feeling enlightened and more unapologetic about the choices that I have made in this life.

 

 

Peace and Blessings

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