Claiming My Roots

February 27, 2018

Claiming My Roots

In keeping with the theme from last month's newsletter, that we have already been paid for, I (Selima here) visited one of the plantations in South Carolina where my paternal ancestors were enslaved. Powerful isn't sufficient. Magical, nope. Life-changing doesn't quite capture my experience either. Maybe soul-awakening...

It took my breath away. The land is so beautiful. On the drive, I asked Tami the question: what nature-scape makes you feel closest to Spirit?  She said she desires to live near water. We both do, for sure. However, I also need trees. Big, majestic, old, Grandfather trees. I need to be around other beings on this planet who are much older and wiser than humans.

I didn't know what to expect with the plantation. We were in the heart of antebellum South Carolina, y'all. Back-country. Sprawling, gated plantations. Confederate flags on pickup trucks and not another person of color in sight. We drove, wiped the sweat off our brows, checked the mirrors every five seconds and prayed.

After miles of forest and open fields, we pulled into this very small community of about 15-20 houses and near the end of the road were the gates to the plantation. Small. Modest. It didn't appear to be the 600 plus acres I had read about. And stunning, canopied by old Oaks. Behind the big house, a large river.

Looking, walking around, then boldly driving through the gates and around the circular driveway (straight up trespassing and not giving a damn), I didn't think about what happened here. Who was purchased and sold or if the trees hold memories I cannot bear to imagine. I just felt home and like a large piece of my soul was being sown back together.

"Home" feels like an odd way for a Black person to refer to a plantation.

I wanted to hate it. Instead I fell in love.

I wanted the world to know that I intend to buy back this land as an act of revenge and justice. Instead I want to keep it a secret, nestle under the trees with a good book and kayak in the river.

I wanted the current owners and neighbors to come at me, pick a fight, so I could declare my birth rights to this land simply because my ancestors built it. Instead, they were completely oblivious to our presence.

I wanted it to feel cursed. Instead the trees said "I will always transmute human rage and ugliness into beauty."

Home. I shake my head and accept it as a fractured place. Returning to this plantation was my attempt to gather and mend one of its many broken pieces.


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