The Black Country

The Black Country

It is no idea anymore, no fanciful imagination. I am following the voices of my ancestors. Each place I go, everything I experience, is at the direction of my ancestors. Not as abstractions, but as people who lived, loved, and died on this land.

The Black Country, they call it. I didn’t know that name before yesterday. Black by day, red by night: the black of coal dust and smoke thick in the air, the black of the mine shafts where the men in my family worked until old age, or as in the case of my great-great-great grandfather, William Jesson, until it killed them...

In Search of Lineage: Ancestral Pilgrimage to Europe, June 15–August 10, 2016

In Search of Lineage: Ancestral Pilgrimage to Europe, June 15–August 10, 2016

This summer, I will travel to the British Isles and mainland Europe to explore my family lineage.

What happened to disconnect my ancestors from the lands where they had lived for millennia, eventually causing them to leave Europe, and travel to the United States, where over time they became white Americans?

This journey is in service to my book project, tentatively titled Rites & Responsibilities: Growing up White, which weaves rites of passage and social justice in a digestible, engaging narrative. This manuscript, which I’ve been working on for about four years, is written specifically for white-skinned young people (ages 16–28), though it’s intended to be accessible and relevant to a much wider audience...