Today, I’ve been thinking a lot about origins. Where my family is from, what history we’ve made, and how I’ll pass that all down to my hypothetical sons and daughters.
A lot of this reflection has come from my 23andMe results. They came in last Sunday and I discovered…surprise, surprise, that I’m almost 95% African descended. My hunch that my granny’s grandmother was half English or Irish was also semi-confirmed. However, just having the DNA data hasn’t been enough for me. There’s something missing when all you have is data and you don’t have the stories.
More and more as I grow and develop as a young adult, I find myself being drawn to the stories of everyday life. Everyday heroes. Unsung foundations and cornerstones of change, of community, of culture. In her acceptance speech for her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, Viola Davis asked us to “Exhume the bodies” of those hidden figures, dead and gone. I’m interested in extoling the lives and exploring the experiences of those hidden figures that are still living. One of my favorite books growing up was Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom, where the title character challenged the people in his life to give him a “living funeral” as he was dying from ALS. Right now, I feel that more people need to have a space to reflect on their lives and to understand that they have had impact. Too often, people question or ignore the value of their experiences because they are everyday life and no one seems to write about or make movies about these experiences.
I’d like to change that. Starting with my grandmother and moving from person to person as the connections build and the desires expand. My drive to collect, spread, and develop the skills and comfort with sharing life experiences is a major force in my work as a teacher. I provide many an opportunity for students to understand that their lives and experiences can be valid. That these experiences can be keys to new doors and to more fulfilling experiences. If I’ve had no other impact on my students than that, I’ll say that I was successful and effective.
That’s what’s on my head tonight!
I’ll be back next week! Have a good one,