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Monday, July 16, 2007

Family Reunions

I love family reunions, I have been going to them all my life. Back in 70's we traveled thousands of miles during peak summer with no air conditioning to go to reunions.

To me, at the time, enduring these extreme conditions was more a reflection of my fathers need to be macho. I was wrong, my father new our history as black folks in America; enduring a few hot summer days to connect with family was something we HAD to do.

I know other ethnic groups in America have family reunions but with Black America it is a phenomenon.

Some of my European(white) friends can trace their family roots back five generations or more. Due to historical circumstances we can't even get an accurate birth certificate for my Grandmother. The challenge of keeping family together during slavery was also impossible. My father was always disturbed about not really knowing where we came from. The family reunion provided a means for him to stay in touch, to keep the blood bonds strong.

I saw it as another situation where cute girls were untouchable. As an adult I can appreciate the importance. I did not fully realize how important until I learned our shared history as slaves, slaveowners, victims and victimizers.

We have made it, we are stronger today than we were yesterday. Despite all the grim statistics about black health and achievement I have examples right in front of me that we are here to stay and the world is a better place.

I hate when people talk about 'the good ol days' you will never here that talk at a family reunion. Today is 'the good ol' days' we celebrate that journey that we have made as Americans . We will spend billions annually to hold our reunions in places that would not even let us work thirty years ago. Many of us have enjoyed a couple of generations of prosperity
and the level of preparation has improved. The macaroni salad and accompanying upset stomachs of the past have been replaced with catered events leaving out the possibility of salmonella. The cooking wasn't that bad but you know what I mean.

We are networking with each other and are establishing new lines of communication. The growth curve is getting steeper and future generations are going to benefit. We have been part of something good, we are part of something good and it is getting better.

I know where I am going because I know where I am from.


ClapSo said...

Yes, it's all about roots. Even if you don't know WHO, that you know WHERE is what matters. I know my family history AFTER they arrived here from the old country. I could look up who came before, but just knowing they came here from Italy is enough for me. I can see what they were like by enjoying Italian culture.

I love reunions. We Italians usually call them weddings and funerals though ;)

The scientifically impossible I do right away
The spiritually miraculous takes a bit longer

Adrienne said...

yes reunions are a necessity for the healthy continuation of Black culture. I,too apppreciate the complexity yet sense of security i get from attending these events. The food, music, and unspoken-roll call-dance "the electric slide" provide the backdrop of an event that will become our source of connection for years to come.