Broken Legacy - Los Angeles Post-ExaminerLos Angeles Post-Examiner

Broken Legacy

Broken Legacy Blackfoot Indians

Broken Legacy

I feel like a tourist
whenever people elaborate on their family trees,
and when I hear about family reunions,
I’m a nomad in a land of clans.

I have Blackfoot, Seneca,
and Cherokee in my family.
Most are dead,
some disavowed their heritage
to pass for white or black.

My paternal great grandfather
passed for black. He worked
as a Pullman porter on the railroad.

My maternal grandmother
passed as white, so she lived
as a white woman.

These are all the stories I have.

I was never taken to a reservation.
I was never told my people’s history.
I have no artifacts or trinkets.
I have nothing to pass on.

My family branches
are broken, the trunk fallen
and split, and the roots are
overgrown. I have learned
to bury my pain and move on.

I live as an American black,
with all the rights my African
ancestors fought and died for.

I have no idea who they are.
No stories. No artifacts. No records.
Nothing.

I feel like a tourist
whenever people elaborate on their family tree,
and when I hear about family reunions,
I’m a nomad in a land of clans.


About the author

Ron Kipling Williams

Ron Kipling Williams uses art, media, performance, and education to break down walls, facilitate open and honest conversations, and build community. He has generated a reputation for being real and authentic in tackling issues of race, class, and identity, and has influenced a generation of Baltimore-based artists. Ron’s awards include a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award, a Baltimore City African-American Male Unsung Hero Award, and a United Workers Human Rights Champion award. In 2016, Ron was selected as an alternate for the Fulbright Scholarship. Ron holds an MFA in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts from the University of Baltimore, and serves as adjunct professor. He is the author of an autobiographical book of poetry and memoir entitled Black Freak Mosh Heaven, and is the creator, writer, and performer of Dreadlocks, Rock & Roll and Human Rights. To learn more about Ron, visit his website at www.ronkiplingwilliams.com. (Author photo credit: David Sebastiao) Contact the author.
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