Saturday, July 22, 2006

A Spotty Past

My mind sometimes wanders back to the past, my past, my ancestors' past. What it was like and the people that they might have been. More like who were they. It is stupefying that these people existed; loved, laughed, cried, had dreams ambitions and goals like we all do now. But they have been vaporized, erased all together by time as a sort of collective historical amnesia. I manage to salvage a few bits and pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that was their life to form a sort of clear image but there are so many pieces of the puzzle missing that one never gets the full 3 dimensions. Everyone just ceased to exist and that's just it, a life omitted like it was never here, the story of their lives never told, not remembered or simply not shared. And all that is left of 40-50 years on the planet is a sentence or two, a brief glance at a vague life. All those years condensed into one sentence - "oh she was beautiful and nice" or what was said about my great grand mother "she was so sweet and dark with a full head of hair" Is that it, is that all we right now can hope to have remembered about us, when all our friends are wiped out, no longer here. Digital pictures gone, memories faded? There were no pictures for some back then, digital or otherwise and paintings - luxuries for the ultra rich of which class they didn't belong. It is like the life of all my ancestors ceased to exist before say the 1940's. No pictures or illustrations, no diaries, sometimes a birth record that is impossible to find, no blog, no narrative, no tales, no nothing. Just a big black void of nothingness, spotted with a few tales of a life lived.
This is the collective void that haunts the peoples of African descent in the "New World" - nothingness, a few names then some then nothing just an obvious historical tale of coming from Africa. And after landing from Africa, its like refeed on the tapes that I have to screen, everything sped up to a blur for about 300yrs then resuming normal speed somewhere around 1890. There was nothing in between and the tape was so badly damaged that there was no slowing it down to see what was actually happening within the blur, just damaged, faded, ruined and gone. No names, no stories, no tracing back so port of entries, no captains log, no artifacts nothing tangible. Tangible things can always be replaced but deleted lives and a deliberately omitted history of on people by another is to me, unforgivable and at best reprehensible.


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