Our history is complicated. But we are our ancestors’ wildest dreams.
I am of both African-American and Afro-Caribbean (Guyanese) descent. On both sides, I am descended from enslaved people.
When I think about my own relative proximity to not being regarded as a human, but a fraction of one, or mere property, I get chills.
In America, this was only a little over 150 years ago.
For additional perspective, Black American history was longer in bondage than freedom. Isn’t that crazy?
It has been a little over 400 years since the first African stepped foot on American soil.
Then, for nearly 250 years, the vast majority of black Americans were enslaved.
For the next 100 years they lived through segregation.
It has been a little over 60 years since that point- a point of relative, but far from perfect freedom.
I am incredibly grateful for my maternal grandmother, who created a book of our family history, celebrating her memories of our ancestors and information she researched, compiling it with the help of a family friend.
She went all the way back to my great-great-great grandmother Ann, who was enslaved, raped, bore her master’s child (my great-great grandmother), and walked bent over with a cane because of said rape. They were both freed, and despite having lived through such trauma, my great-great-great grandmother still lived to be 107. (P.S. If your people are from Spartanburg, SC and have the last name Anderson... hey, cousin.)
Now, when I wonder about whether or not I am prepared or able or capable or deserving of something, I am grateful to have the fortitude to snap out of it by pulling from the strength of my roots and my faith that comes from above.
I think of the complicated series of events, the dire odds that led to my very existence on this earth and I am grateful.
So, on this Juneteenth, I celebrate and acknowledge the complicated roots that made me and allow me to continue to grow.
“They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 7:18