Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Who am I?

This week I have been watching shows about ancestry. All of them have been by Harvard University Prof. Henry Gates Jr. The two shows that I've watched are African American Lives 2 and Faces of America. Both shows are about the ancestry of famous Americans. The first show focuses on African Americans, including Morgan Freeman, Maya Angelou, Chris Rock, Tina Turner and others. Faces of America is more multicultural cast with Stephen Colbert, Yo-Yo Ma, Dr. Oz, Meryl Streep and others. (Both shows are on PBS, highly enjoyable, a nice show to catch).

Watching these shows make me wonder about the history of my ancestors. This is where things are tricky. First I'm multi-ethnic. Second I'm adopted. Who's history do I trace? My blood or my life? I know a few things about my adopted families history. On my father's side I'm a distant niece of Frederick Douglas and both sides are the descendants of slaves. Do I claim this as my heritage?

I know a little bit about my birth mother and I have met her and my half sister. I know that their family comes from TX but that is where the trail goes cold. When we visited she didn't want to talk about my birth father other then to say he was married and abusive. So I have half a history on that side. Do I claim this as my heritage?

When you're adopted these are things to wonder to yourself. How will I explain my ancestry to others or to my children?

I'm going to be doing some more blogs on my life as a multi ethnic, adopted Navy brat, so check back with me.