Thursday, February 11, 2010

Race is everything

I was in a situation recently, where the statement was made 'race is irrelevant'. In the conversation, that was the case, however, the whole idea has been bugging me.

Race is everything. Family history-- where we all come from-- that's everything!

Because my husband's great grandparents came from Germany and refused to speak German, though their English was poor, and would beat their daughter for speaking German, and she, in turn, went into an abusive relationship, where she allowed her husband to browbeat her children physically and emotionally. Which led to my MIL (whom I love dearly) to be overly harsh to her children-- which led to my husband being afraid to cross anyone...

I am not creating blame or excuses or any of that-- I'm just telling the story. Who we are is completely based on where we came from. The values we learn, even to how much attention we crave... those of us whole love books, those who love spotlights-- it all comes from somewhere.

We are what we came from.

Race is everything. My Irish ancestors struggled and came to start a new life here. My Dutch ancestors carved a home for themselves here. I cannot pretend that they never existed-- I must know them to know myself.

My scandalous multi-great Scott ancestor-- I am like him. By learning about him I know where I get my scheming clever ways of dealing with things.

It's wrong to separate the child from the parent. We need to know. Why did my ggg-whatever grandfather come from Ireland? Because his family was shipped to Australia and he was being drafted into a constabulary against his own people. I saw the draft notice. He left a month later. Why were they sent to Australia? Because they were starving and his father stole a cow to feed his 12 children.

Keith's gg-grandmother's sister was 13 when they came to America from England. Her parents placed her in a boarding house full of young men and lived off of her wages without working themselves. She disappeared from the censuses before the sister was even half-grown.

These are real people and we cannot turn away from their stories.

I am a product of my history. I am their child.

No comments: