Who yo people ‘nem?
Variations of this question are frequent follow-ups from initial meetings in black culture. It’s usually by an elder trying to figure out more about you based on your familial connections. I grew up hearing this question a lot. The instance that stands out the most is the racist chemistry teacher in high school who routinely spent the first week of school determining how each student was related to people he had taught in the past. He did this to determine how he would treat each of us from the first day of school. I had no problems with him as he had already encountered my grandmother and a few aunts due to other relatives passing through his class. He left me alone, but that also meant that I had to teach myself chemistry in order to pass the class because he was horrible… but anyway, back to today’s phrase.
About 2 years ago, I sent off my DNA to get one of those ancestry matches done. Around that time I had been talking with my great auntie more often about my dad’s dad’s side of the family. My thirst to find out more about me was growing and I wanted to know more. So today, I am turnt up about ANCESTRY.
This morning I drove from New Orleans airport and decided to catch up on my scripture readings. You see, I committed to finishing the Bible in One Year plan on my YouVersion app and because of this last bit of traveling I am about a week or so behind. Thus, I’ve been listening to bigger chunks of Old and New Testament readings. So I turned on the app so that it could read 1 Chronicles to me…and I kinda got angry. It documents all of these ancestral relations for the people of Israel. I couldn’t help but to be angry because this document people who lived more than 3000 years ago and I barely know my grandparents. I thought about the many black americans who know nothing about where they are from because our ancestors were stolen from the motherland and even more so families were torn apart and intentionally sold separately during slavery.
As I work on my family tree, I’ve been able to trace some relatives who lived around the 1850s, but I still don’t know much about them. I wish I knew stories like I read in the bible about my family. Bae is from the motherland and I ask him lots of questions about his family. I am somewhat envious of the stories that he can tell about great great grandparents being kings and warriors. I wish I knew stories. I wish I knew more about my grandparents. I wish I knew more about my great grandparents. I feel like I am being intrusive when I ask some of the elders questions because their reactions seem like they don’t want to say anything. But how else am I supposed to learn? How else will I have stories to tell to my children?
I wish I knew more about my people ‘nem.