Would All My Ancestors Love Me?

Melissa U., Charlotte, NC. My Taino people would love me, from my plump lips to my curly hair. My African people would love me from the rhythm in my hips to the powerful thoughts in my mind. My Spanish people, they might deny me, but I can’t deny them. They are in my language, they […]

I responsible for my ancestors mistakes?

Jessica Tressa, Wilkes Barre, PA. I am white, I was born this way and did not get to choose. I am just an average girl no different from anyone else on this planet. Average. So, why am I told that because white people enslaved other people that those descendants have the right to hate me […]

Arab name

I’m an Arab named Dave Hall

Dave Hall, Brooklyn, NY. I get my name from my Yankee (English-American) father, whose ancestors arrived in Boston in 1630 but I get my complexion from my Arab-American mother. People do a double take when they first meet me after only hearing my voice on the phone. And new friends quickly learn that I am […]

I won’t apologize for my ancestors

Anonymous, IL. Life is hard enough for everybody without guilting everybody for transgressions they had nothing to do with. My ancestors fought for the South, and they were poor white conscripts who starved to death in a prison camp. They didn’t care about race.


Don’t Worry, we’re not so different

Epifanio Rios, Philadelphia, PA. My name is Epifanio, I am a fourteen year boy who attends the high school SLA. I probably know as much about race as the next guy but I think race is perceived differently by everyone. To me I think race can’t only be defined through your skin tone but were […]

I am sorry for my ancestors

Krystal, Tillamook, OR. Half of my family is from Europe, the other half is from America–as in, Native Americans. When my great-grandfather passed away, they went through his possessions and found a KKK hood, and I bear that shame to this day. I am sorry for my ancestors and what they did to people based […]

I have never enslaved anyone’s ancestors

Paul, Colorado Springs, CO. I am not the enemy. I am a 40-year old white, middle-class male- the prime demographic; according to some. It hurts me when people assume that I’m bigoted, racist, sexist or homophobic. To many racial and gender-based groups; I am looked at as the enemy. Neither I, nor my family has […]

Tired of feeling white guilt

Ben Capaul, WI. My ancestors were Swiss immigrants to Wisconsin in the 1920’s. I’m as white as you can get. My 80 year old grandparents love my black girlfriend. But I get dirty looks and hushed whispers at her all black family gatherings. I always worry that black people will somehow see me as a […]

The fiction of whiteness imperils humanity.

Evan Sorem, San Diego, CA. I am a human being. I have lived nearly all my life in California. My ancestors have lived in California, Illinois, Wyoming, Utah, Tennessee, Virginia, Norway, France, Italy, England, the Netherlands and who knows where else. So, people view me as a “white” person. In my 40’s, I have learned […]

My ancestors do not define me.

R.M. Lutz, East Lansing, MI. My color does not define me. Why should being white make me feel guilty? I didn’t want slavery. I didn’t want Jim Crow. I didn’t ask to be born into a family that is upper middle class. But somehow, people blame me like it’s my fault. Like I wanted to […]

White Guilt Misses the Entire Point

Gabrielle Durrett, Tucson, AZ. As a white person, I frequently feel white guilt whenever the topics of slavery and racism come up. For ages, I felt like I had to come up with excuses of why I shouldn’t feel guilty, the most prominent of which was: “Those were my ancestors, not me.” Well, I still […]


Who are your ancestors. Be honest.

Alison Bailey, Bloomington, IL. Yes. I’ve been able to find out who my 3d greatgrandmother is until recently. She was the bastard child of Joseph C. Van Mater, or “Big Joe,” as he was called. The Van Mater family were early settlers in Monmouth County, New Jersey. Big Joe was the largest slave holder north […]


Must we forget our Confederate ancestors?

Jesse Dukes, Charlottesville, VA. This question was on my mind recently, when I wrote an article for Virginia Quarterly Review about Confederate reenactors at the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg. I don’t actually have any Confederate ancestors I’m aware of, but most of the reenactors do. All of the reenactors I talked to considered slavery to […]

You benefit from your ancestors actions

Daniel Escalante, Taos, NM. These six words are coming from a person of color to a white person who says, “I feel guilty about what my ancestors did to create racist institutions and systems. ” And, I feel that you blame me for what they did”.

Couldn’t convince grandmother slavery was immoral

Denise Pierce, Sterling, VA. My grandmother who was born in NC in 1901 and lived to be 105 tried to instill in me a love for my land-owning ancestors who also owned slaves. At 99 she was still quoting from the KKK playbook that taught slaves were lucky to have been brought to America and […]

Being white makes me feel guilty

Micaela Laurelville, OH My privilege is always at the forefront of my mind. I cry in history class and while reading certain historical books. How does one make up for the past crimes of people that I can’t help but perceive as my ancestors?


My Ancestors NEVER owned any slaves.

Anthony Turoczy,   Manassas, VA.   My Great-grandparents came to America in 1904 from Hungary. They worked in the mines during the day and went to school at night to learn how to speak, read and write English. Don’t blame others for your bad choices; work hard and make something of yourself.

“Hush, Child, they’ll take Grandma away!”

Robin Greeley St. Louis, MO This is what my relatives said to me at a family reunion in the 1950s.They were afraid that if it was known that Grandma was Choctaw, she could be sent to a reservation – something that was done in those days. In Pueblo, Colorado, the hatred and direct discrimination of […]


Melting-pot Melungeon: Not “Other!” Try “Most.”

Marion Reid Kee Redmond, WA Some of my ancestors went through a lot so that I could be “white” and not have to know about them as African, Native American, Eastern Mediterranean. Others who were considered white may not have been free. Some of my Celtic ancestors were forcibly resettled by the English. Others were […]


Travesty, Left By Many For Many

Gina Dabbah, Seaside, CA. The opinion of our ancestors left a battle waging hard and strong. This battle has spilt blood, split families, friends, and communities. And for what? For one person to feel superior over another by using a characteristic, a pigment of our gene pool, a sad excuse to shun another. This is […]

You look too foriegn for me.

Danielle Silver Forest Park, OH A white guy I liked told me this. I am white( German, Irish, Penn. Dutch), Hispanic, Native American. I used to get asked where I was from in school. I said, “I’m an American.” My ancestors have been here for generations. My full brother has never been asked where he […]

Not unless your ancestors owned mine

Solveig Whittle Woodinville, WA In 1992 I moved to Seattle and began working at a new job. The first week I saw in the company email roster that someone else had the same last name as I did. I dialed his extension and introduced myself as a new employee. My last name is not common […]

Griot’s love preserved unspoken unheard truths

Jimmie Jones Washington DC My father spent 30 years preserving the genealogy of our family through three generations. My early Summers were spent recording voices, taking pictures, tracing gravestones and memorizing family trees into three generations. His book and his legacy led me to the plantation where I met ancestors, reclaimed cotton, cried into soil […]


My Ancestors Bones Not For Museum

Sonya Williams, Baltimore, MD. I grew up in a unique area of North Carolina in what is referred to as a ti-racial community. My Indian family are the Cheroenhaka Nottoway and Meherrin Indians of Southeast, VA & North Eastern, NC. When I went to college, during a lecture in my anthropology class, the professor was […]


Cajun heritage and worked for everything

Feldon Starns, Summerville, SC. I come from a lower middle class family. I was the first to graduate collage in my family. I worked full time at menial jobs and paid for everything myself. No loans, grants, scholarships, or aid. Nothing was given to me. If working inside old fuel tanks in a shipyard is […]

My ancestors were Appalachian slave owners.

Cindy Hutchison Russell Guadalajara, Mexico Took a graduate course in circum Atlantic slavery – did my own family research – discovered that my direct ancestors in the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee – were slave owners – as were hundreds of small farm owners and dirt farmers in the 1700’s and 1800’s…

Ancestors were pirates. EVERYBODY’s my cousin!

Martha DeWolfe Huntsville, AL Some of my ancestors were so evil a part of the family broke away and went to Canada to get away from them! Lucky for me, the ones who left were in my direct line…but because of the pirates’ horrible deeds, people all over the world are related to me within […]

Found my ancestors and grief too.

R.Henry Goins San Francisco, CA I am a genealogist. I have been researching my North Carolina family for about ten years now. I found my great grandfather’s family in some notes held at the North Carolina Archives. The family lived in Belews Creek and Sauratown. Sauratown sounds like sorrow. I found a ledger with the […]

Not accountable for ancestors actions

Noah McDonald Warren, PA It’s time to get over it! Before you point your finger at me, and call me a racist! Don’t forget there are three of your own pointing back at you! I won’t be held responsible for my ancestors actions! Educate yourself! Look at history. Every race, religion, and creed has been […]

My ancestors passed. Their history: invisible.

Margaret Angela Thomas Chatsworth, GA I’m the descendant of a runaway slave who passed as Latin and was beaten to death by a slavecatcher, other runaways who moved to Indian Territories to pass for Cherokee, and a trafficked Chinese woman. I look Scotch-Irish and have a huge red vascular birthmark. I live with color bigotry […]