Wandra Najat-Felecia Chenault, MSW
Ancestry is Everything: it’s like the tree of life. Race is a social construct that erases: its like dismembering branches of the tree.
An apple doesn’t fall far from its ancestor and our ancestors tell us a lot about who we are.
In antiquity there was no such thing as race. Race is a modern term used to stratify people, an idea starting about the 18th century. Race erases the important details clumping people into groups by summarizing and stratifying similarities.
Let’s go back about 2000 years. Jesus of Nazareth was born in a Palestinian city called Bethlahem, spoke Aramaic, His mother was probably born in Nazareth (now Israel) and at one time the family lived in Africa. The Bible never spoke about His race, because race is a modern, social construct.
In the past society focused on what I believe to be most relevant and significant, ancestry or geneology, because ancestry is everything. The name, birth, location, social status, occupation and accomplishments of an individual, the tribal affiliations or other social affiliations, the places travelled because each individual brings their own intricate history and the history of their relatives and that history is often complex, its not black and white. One author, Mary Beard notes Greeks and Romans focused on “the characteristics which derived from their (inferior) environment and from the climate in which they lived – the rain and fog of Northern Europe, for example — were fixed and irreversibly inferior.”
Africans in America were told throughout centuries that they were slaves. Enslavers worked systematically and, strategically purged the slaves’ languages, customs, names, tribal affiliations and memories of their ancestors. In those 400 years, there were virtually no records of births or marriages or deaths for slaves. Most slaves were forced to forget and reject what they knew of their ancestry.
Ancestry is in our DNA and is carried through bloodlines. Africans-Americans have ancestors from tribes throughout Africa (although reportedly most are concentrated in Central and West Africa), throughout Europe, Scandinavia, the Iberian Penninsula, parts of Asia and the Americas. And ancestry is the evidence of hundreds of years of ancestors. Because of modern technology ancestry is discoverable. Ancestry Matters.
Recently Senator Warren who has said she has a Nativve American ancestor was told that it wasn’t important and she was told that her Native American ancestry was insignificant, to small to matter and to forget about it but, we should never forget our ancestors or our ancestry. Kings and Queens have ancestors who have been extensively documented throughout history and their bloodlines curated just because ancestry matters.
Our ancestry tells us who we are today. The film Amistad coins how important ancestry is when Cinque says “Today I am my ancestors.”
Don’t let anyone tell you that your ancestry is unimportant. Don’t let anyone take away your heritage. Don’t allow people to mislabel you or stratify you based on a social construct that is aimed at belittling your ancestry and embossing their own.
Take a look at this:
Luke 3:23 Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, 24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, 25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai,26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, 27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel,[a] the son of Neri, 28 the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, 29 the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, 30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, 31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, 32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Sala, the son of Nahshon, 33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Admin, the son of Arni, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, 34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, 38 the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.