Growing Sense of Completeness in African Americans Through Genealogy and History
There is such a wealth to the history of African Americans in the United States. We are just hitting the tip of the iceberg. Many works have been published about our experience with many more needed. “Return to Glory” a great book having to do with interest in the reopening of what’s been hidden about the African American and Africans in general. You have the book “Roots” which was also a mini-series, showing the journey of one African American who was said to have discovered a clear link to Africa before the age of DNA genealogical research. Though incomplete, African Americans as a people have drawn inspiration from these and other works.
All of us who have African American ancestry in the United States have enjoyed the stories our parents and grandparents passed down. But we ran into the inevitable block and proverb “Let dead dogs lie”. So while some of us were told what some in our families believed, we have not typically enjoyed rich genealogical histories as other groups in the United States. Thank God this is changing! The truth is coming out. Truths that some, refuse to acknowledge and some that we’ve been waiting for! Some see traces of European descent in their line and they have no idea how it got there. Others see African regions they’ve never even heard of. Welcome to the richness of our peoples! Our heritage is strong. And African Americans in the United States are one of the greatest inspirations of a surviving people that has ever lived.
Present Day 2019 A.D.
Today there are pretty deep-seated conflicts/prejudices between African-Americans and people of immediate African descent who were born on the continent. On the one hand, there are resentments based on ignorance- “Africans live in huts and are undeveloped”. A similar ignorance is “African-American’s are not really African and are lazy-undeveloped spoiled mooches”. And so you have the derogatory insults “African Booty Scratcher” and “Akata” as easy examples. On the other hand, resentments are based on historical events among them are: “Africans selling Africans” and “mistreatment of African immigrants by African-Americans of more distant African Ancestry living in the United States.
Another issue in the reunions of African Americans with African peoples on the continent has to do with the obvious puzzle piece: it was so long ago! Why does it even matter? As LaKisha David, Ph.D. Candidate from the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at UIUC, wrote on the topic:
“I think the real hesitation with embracing the fact of reuniting African families is the idea that the moment of separation happened too long ago to be reconciled. But it is happening and the general public will soon catch on to this amazing phenomenon.”
It is amazing because it was not expected and yet solves so many puzzles. For example, some challenge the Africanness of African Americans (including African Americans themselves). With the new advances in dna genealogical research, we are seeing great confirmations of previously taught history. But more directly it is the vindication of the existence and memory of so many Africans who were brought to nothing during the middle passage and events that surround it. “It is, in a sense getting a message from our ancestors ‘We were here'”. Because a people does not know where it’s going unless it knows where it came from.
Modern films like “The Black Panther”, the remake of the “Roots” and television shows like “Finding Your roots” has contributed to the growing acceptance of an African past. What is more, we are gazing into an African future. African American and the continental African will rediscover each other respectfully. It will continue to happen. You are invited to be part of this. Get yourself tested. Start a family tree. Ask relatives all they know about your ancestors and their experiences. See what traditions you have. Do you, for example have a history regarding the well known “Gumbo” cuisine? If you do, you have a long survived African bit of culture staring you right in the face and on your tongue. What’s more, we have combined our experiences and have reshaped our African heritage to fit the situations we had to adapt to.
We are the culmination of experiences that should not be forgotten or ignored. Many, many African and even European ethnic groups and peoples formed what is now called “African Americans” in the United States. And of course, the “Native American” connection is there. With tools like gedmatch and AncestryDNA and other sites, we can start reconnecting these lost pieces of us in our history. But it won’t be easy, it takes genuine interest and work. Some stories will make you cry, some will make you furious and yet others will make you stand up taller. Because as the proverb goes “we stand on the shoulders of giants”. Blessed are those whos history has been hidden from them, revelation is sweet. True history is golden.