Posted May 26th, 2011 by

As we reached Alabama yesterday, our first stop was with family in Tallassee. It was my first chance to hug the newest members of the Morgan clan.

Zion & Z'riyah

Although Morgan is my married name and I have been divorced from Mr. Morgan for many years, I continue to consider my in-laws and their children as part of my extended family. In genealogical parlance these are called “fictive” relationships.

In black families, we are known to adopt people as daughters, sons, aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, brothers… all types of relationships that are not based on blood but on emotional connection.

I sometimes wonder if this proclivity emanates from the historical fact that so many of our blood relationships were severed and lost as a consequence of slavery. I often wonder about the children who were sold away from their parents, the marriages that were disallowed, the families, villages and nations that were torn asunder.

I KNOW my eight great grandparents were not all only children. Who were their mothers and fathers? Where are their brothers and sisters? Where are the children of their brothers and sisters? Are there children born before Emancipation that disappeared into history?

I marvel at the magnanimity that enables us to put new feet in the shoes of the lost. And I thank God our children will never have to face the anguish of the disappeared.

2 responses to “BLOODLINES”

  1. Barbara St. Romain says:

    Thanks for sharing the origins of this wonderful custom of adopting, adding to, making new family, and retaining old family despite officially severed ties. I had listened to an audio book by Maya Angelou who spoke of her various " daughters" but never realized why the practice began. The beauty of your last two sentences touched my heart.

  2. Beautiful post. There are so many threads and weaves to the tapestry of slavery and its painful history and it's important, I think, for every person who has a story, has some insight, a perspective an inside track, to share those stories, however personal and true. Love of family connects us all and you're right to ponder the trail left by some who disappeared, whose families disappeared…I cannot imagine. But lovely to meet your new ones. The hope of new life, yes?

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