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View Diary: Strange Fruit revisited (60 comments)

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  •  When I'm in my rocking chair (7+ / 0-)

    I'll have time to write a book, but thank you very much for the support. I'm very pleased with the response to this diary, it was a kind of pre-birthday gift for my dad, who was born on April 1st, and he would support my sharing his story if it could make just one person think a bit differently about our experience.

    I've spent the last 15 years documenting my family history (in fits and starts) because it gives me a better understanding of history when I'm able to put real people into it.

    My mother had a real problem with the term "African-American".  She said she wasn't a hyphenated anything. She said "I'm an American, who is black"
    She instilled in me very early on a deep abiding pride for her family, who she taught me helped build this country, and spent hours telling me stories.

    My grandmother(dad's mom), though cut out of her own family did the same.  She'd sit me on her lap, and show me pictures of her family and say "these are your kinfolks - you are a Bodine too and don't you forget it - ever."

    A few years ago I got an email, from a young white man from Kansas, who had found my family history webpages on the net, and recognized a picture of his great grandfather on my pages.  He almost fell out of his chair at the library computer when he clicked on a link and there were endless pages of black folks, as well as his family line.

    The young man said in the email "Hi, I'm your cousin Joe - from Kansas."  I wrote back and confirmed it (warily) because I wasn't sure he had seen the "other pictures".

    He told me later, that he had gotten furiously angry, called his brother and they went to confront their parents, demanding to know why my grandmother's history had been kept a deep dark family secret.  My grandmother is his great aunt.

    His parents were embarrassed.  His dad said he had been sworn to secrecy.   Joe emailed me again - announcing he was coming to visit.  He did, stayed a week, and has come back again.  He brought me a gift of wheat stalks from the farm my grandmother was born on.  

    I have since that time gotten apologies from some of the older living relatives.   The eldest said simply "that was the way things were then.  I'm glad Joe found you.  Come and stay - anytime."

    So, things can change.  Somewhere my grandmother is smiling, because her divorce from her family all those long years was her deepest sorrow.  And now I feel more complete, having both sides to enrich my own history.

    This is the hope I see in young folks.  We, and you can change things, if not for all, at least for some.

    •  Some saw sadness in your diary. (5+ / 0-)

      Certainly it is sad that ... our racial history is so terrible. But I saw hope. And I see hope in your fine comment, too. One of the greatest gifts we can give is shared hope, and this is among the gifts you have given us.

      "The opposite of war isn't peace, it's CREATION." _ Jonathan Larson, RENT

      by BeninSC on Mon Mar 24, 2008 at 02:27:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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