Wow…talk about family dysfunction. That’s a whole other level…I’ve never considered this perspective.
I am a product of American slavery…I have such rapist great grandfathers. Would I want to know them, it it were possible? Or their other white descendants? I am surprised actually that I have never once considered this.
Well, I’m considering it now. Would I want to be in contact with any of these people? Yes and no. It’s certainly complicated.
Take the one grandfather. He has a reputation for being -not a monster- but a typical plantation owner for the time. Him, I would like to meet, just to ask him, you could have been a monster and decided against it, why?
I might actually learn that this isn’t true, if such a conversation were to occur. But anyway, I think from him, I would want to know the truth, whatever it was.
Now the other has a reputation for being a monster. Actually, I kind of hate him to this day. I kind of blame him. Would I want to know any of his white descendants? Not if they are anything like his black ones. There is a smallness, a pettiness, a meanness, a sick cruelty that traces down through the generations. I don’t want to know anymore of that. I have issues with my family because of it.
So…if any of these white descendants were to come and find me and want to have a get together of sorts, I’d definitely be guarded. Certainly interested though, in what any of them would have to say, but not fully open.
I think the spirit of their inquiry would inform my reaction and my decision regarding any continued correspondence.
Do they have the right to reach out? Man, that’s a tough one. Where would you start, dealing with this sort of dysfunctionality?
I think in a very humble, 12 step kind of way. Even though they are not their ancestors or their sins, you can’t reach out in ignorance of them. How would you do it? Even if you really wanted to? To what end? How does one make amends for this kind of family dysfunction?
I mean even take race out of it. Families have horrible secrets that they never get beyond. An uncle accidentally shoots a child, family members cover it up, and say the child shot himself.
A secret like that, it corrupts the entire family…for generations; and that’s just the one thing.
If I were to say to my cousins…you know what, I think my uncle may have killed your brother, here are the pieces I’ve uncovered about this particular ugly (maybe) truth.
And…I don’t know if that’s true. I just have a lot of pieces to some pretty ugly family history that no one wants to deal with.
But, assume it were true, where would I even begin to make amends? How should I presume? Who exactly was aggrieved? Based on where I stand, I would say everyone. The kid shot dead, certainly. His mother and sisters who desperately wanted better answers than they received about the death, certainly.
But also the uncle, God, his life sucked. And his kids…their lives were tragic. And my grandmother who allegedly pulled this whole thing off…man, don’t get me started. Her grandfather was a vicious, brutal, ruthless overseer. That was her grandfather, so…what should I expect?