Be Not Ashamed

7 Jan

The other day, Michaela was talking about Harriet Tubman. Apparently they’re learning about her in school, and we have an awesome book about her, so it’s not a totally unusual subject. In the course of talking about Tubman, I told Michaela I could give her a copy of a picture of my grandmother’s grandmother, who was a slave. Michaela declined, emphatically. She didn’t come out and say it, but it seemed pretty clear that it was because she doesn’t want people thinking she’s descended from slaves. Which she is. And which, from my perspective, she should be damn proud of. Trying to keep from crying, I told her exactly that:

These people – our ancestors – survived against long odds. They survived the Middle Passage. As slaves, they had children, though God only knows if they were able to know their families. They made it through (failed) Reconstruction and through Jim Crow and through separate and unequal. They eventually resulted in my grandmother and my dad and me and Michaela.

And if that’s not something to celebrate and honor and cherish, then I don’t know what is.

I think it sunk in because she told me tonight at bedtime that she would like to take a picture to school after all.

Thank goodness for that.

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