An Essay On Family History By Sharee Meredith (Podcast Guest)
Updated: Jan 20, 2020
The details have been removed from the story, giving credit only to Pocahontas and British settlers.
When asked what inspires her to research her family history, Sharee Meredith wrote the following:
The failure to earnestly address slavery in America makes us ignorant to the history of the country. Three hundred years of lived experiences are reduced to founding fathers, a few wars and profits from cotton and tobacco. The details have been removed from the story, giving credit only to Pocahontas and British settlers. We say West Africa, as if shipping manifests have not been archived. When in truth, each colony bought slaves at different times from different regions. One person’s Angola is another person’s Benin, but the attempted avoidance of pain stops us from knowing the story. Every county developed its own way to interact with the native population, but students are made to believe that they were all forced west and died during the Trail of Tears or became sick from malnourishment in mid-western reservations. European settlers were not all wealthy colonizers, but the story of the indentured servant is never mentioned. The need to divide the country by race has created a detrimental oversight of American economic and educational caste systems.
The intentional breeding of mulattos is more likely to describe my family, but is a “theory” not accepted by all historians.
My interest in genealogy is an attempt to uncover the lived experiences of my ancestors. It took years for me to realize that it is illogical to be angry about the pain inflicted on someone I would have never known, by someone to whom I have no connections. The horror stories of the Deep South are unlikely to reflect the lives of my Virginia ancestors. The intentional breeding of mulattos is more likely to describe my family, but is a “theory” not accepted by all historians. Genealogy is an opportunity for me to tell my story, to know where my cells have been and what my DNA has overcome. My family history strengthens me, it encourages me to be my best, and it reminds me that my body can withstand situations my mind cannot conceive.
I fear my ancestors would also shame me; that they would not be proud of who I am today. Not because I lack achievements, but because I lack the motivation to maximize my privileges. Electricity, running water, free public libraries and internet are privileges often disregarded in the 21st century. I assume that my ancestors spent most of their lives watching other people live. They would be appalled to count how many hours I spend watching people on social media or binge watching shows. If nothing else, genealogical research is the stern talk I need to appreciate today and implement what I imagine for tomorrow. My ancestors have given me a story so powerful that the entire nation is afraid to mention it. I refuse to disappoint that legacy.
About the Author
Sharee Meredith has combined her background in Psychology with her passion for history and culture in her genealogy quest. Her experience as the granddaughter of an orphan inspired her to analyze the behavior of a people disconnected from their heritage with a new perspective. By working with maps, military records, court documents, newspaper articles, and journal entries, Sharee intends to revive the American understanding of colonial life and Colored* influence on the development of the nation.
*this term is used intentionally to reflect the historical sentiment
Be on the lookout for more of her thoughts as a recurring guest of the podcast.