I do not connect to the term African American and I have never felt fully comfortable identifying as Black. I am not "mulatto" or "mixed." For at least five generations my family has been born fair in color. Even when married to darker people, the children still come out light. My particular set of DNA, the combination of African, Native American, and European, has left a permanent yellow stain on my phenotype. But to the untrained eye, I might simply look as though my father is a white man (and mother black).
The cells in my body were donated by the inhabitants of Colonial Virginia-white, black, and native. I cannot become my greatest self without acknowledging all of the people who made me.
Genealogical research is the opportunity to find my last “pure” African ancestor, to identify my Native American heritage, and to locate the colonial white family that abandoned us. My story is incomplete because society forces the population to pick a side. I do not belong to any one side. The cells in my body were given by the various inhabitants of Colonial Virginia-white, black, and native. I cannot become my greatest self without acknowledging all of the people who made me. I am strong enough to survive the Middle Passage and slavery. I am brave enough to fight with arrows against cannons. I am twisted enough to massacre and enslave humans in hopes of claiming land and people that could never belong to me.
I hope that my research will uncover a less brutal story than the one I have imagined.
For many years my color reminded me of the rape of my enslaved grandmothers. Over time, I have learned to admire and embody their strength. I hope that my research will uncover a less brutal story than the one I have imagined. I do not expect to find a forbidden love story, but I would be interested to know if the children were acknowledged or had any privileges as members of the family. I would like to know how my Native grandmother crossed paths with my African grandfather. I want to know what became of my Native family and if I have any cousins who can share cultural wisdom. Most of all, I want to be able to identify as something other than Black, because that doesn't tell the story. What's the term for all of it? All of me?
- An Anonymous American Origin Story.