Besides always feeling a kinship to African Americans for this reason, I have also always felt a kinship with Langston Hughes after reading his poem, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers."
I've known rivers:I think I resonate so deeply with this poem, because like the speaker, I have never met these people or been to these places, except New Orleans, and yet, because I do not have specific stories about deep rooted ancestors, I identify with a large group of people that have gone before me. I consider all womyn to be my ancestor and us all to be from the same family.
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
flow of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.
I've known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers
I really love that Coleman points out that we should remember all our ancestors, but only honor some. In the American South, one often hears about honoring The Old South's "heritage." When I was younger, my state and many other states, argued about whether it should leave the rebel emblem on its state flag, with many supporters saying that to abandon the emblem is to abandon our heritage. I say, "Bullshit!" Yes, we must remember the bad as well as the good in our heritage, but to keep the rebel sign on our flag and in many other ways, is to honor that old image and the racism and intolerance is not a way that should be honored. As this year comes to a close, let us remember the past, but choose to honor only the good.