A reader writes:
My husband and I adopted an African-American infant 7 years ago. It has been a revelation. But the moment, and I can pinpoint it to the day, I internalized that our nation is black as much as anything else, was the day I went to a family reunion.
My maternal ancestors are the descendants of the owners of the Middleton Plantation in South Carolina. Several years ago they had a reunion of all the Middleton descendants, combined with a reunion of all the descendants of the slaves of the Middleton planation. At first we were going to take our daughter, but the dissonance of the descendent of the slave owners taking his descendent-of-slaves daughter to that reunion was too much. I went alone with my mother.
I met and became friends with a distant cousin, descendant of slaves and a slave owner, and I learned a lot about the history and genealogy of the slaves and a more nuanced history of my own ancestry. I had moments of deep reflection, pain and confusion. That reunion has set me on a journey that has made it quite clear to me that we (and I) are black, and white, native and much more. We are not half, we are all of each.
Today, on our wall, is our family map. On it are arrows, originating in Western African, Eastern North America, Central America, Northern Europe, Southern Europe and several other places, with way points along their trajectories of Massachusetts, Virginia, Mexico, Utah, Arkansas, South Carolina and several others, all ending at our house in San Francisco.
Because, like America, that is what our family is.