Who I am | Teen Ink

Who I am

May 18, 2014
By Anonymous

This is the story of who I am, not spiritually or mentally, but physically. Have you ever thought to ask yourself who you are? Where you’re from? Do you even know who you are? Because I didn’t. Being an African American, it is extremely difficult to trace back to where I actually am from. But after listening, researching, and asking, I think I am starting to learn my history. Join me as I tell you the adventurous story of the Randolph’s and Grayson’s.

We both started in Africa somewhere between 1776 and 1865, when farming was blooming and the need for slaves was kindling. My ancestors were probably taken from their homeland on the western part of Africa. After months of being chained to ship floors, soaking in their own filth, and starving, they made it to the United States of America, tentative on what was going to happen to them. Long roads were to be walked and whips were to be felt. Then the beginning of their end was the auctioning, where they were to show off themselves with their blighted clothes and beat down bodies. Boorish men separated families and shunned the weak and old. Sooner or later, they arrived at the opulent master’s house, where they all had to be robust to ‘earn their keep.’ All of my people were given ‘American’ names and were given jobs. Darker skinned people were sent to work on the field to endure the beating sun, or bleeding fingers and lighter skinned women were to work in the house, where they were abused both sexually and physically every single day. There was no escaping where they were, but they did find ways to leave the horrible ways they lived by singing tranquil spirituals, praying to the only God they knew, and hoping for something better of future generations.
Around the same time the Cherokee and Creek Indians were getting kicked out of there land in the Central and Northern parts of Georgia, because of the cotton gin, which increased the production of cotton. Andrew Jackson forced the Cherokee Indians to Oklahoma, which is known as the Trail of Tears. My family is not sure if our great great grandma walked it or if she was just born in Oklahoma, but we do know for sure that she is Cherokee, and she is on the Grayson side of the family. I pretty much get all of my physically features from her, which is so weird because I am a Randolph. We literally look exactly alike. I’m not sure how we have pictures of her, but she was beautiful. A couple of years before I was born, the Randolph’s and Grayson’s went to Oklahoma for their family reunion, and from looking at just photos, I can tell that they belonged there. You know that feeling you get, when you know you are home from a really long trip? That’s what I felt when I saw those photos. I felt like I belonged there.
Let’s fast forward a century after the Trail of Tears where a man was eager to make a new start in a country whose streets were ‘paved with gold.’ He was an immigrant from Ireland making his way into Ellis Island, and he was a Randolph, my granddad’s dad. I don’t know his name because my granddad died when I was two and my grandmother does not remember, but I do have a picture of him. In fact, according to my resources the photo of him that I have is his actual photo from Ellis Island. What is interesting about him is how he looked. He had a long pointy nose, thin lips, and was very very VERY light skinned. When I first saw him I thought he was white, and I was surprised when I found out that he was black. He lived in Kansas City where he and his wife had kids. My grandmother, on the Grayson side also lived in Kansas City. They met, married, had kids young and had my mom. She eventually moved to Atlanta and had me, her second child.
Obviously, there are major gaps in my family history that I will never be able to fill. I want to connect with family members I have never known and I want to go to all three of my homes and know who I actually am. I think it is everyone’s benefit to explore their ancestry and figure out where they actually came from. Sadly, people like me will not have the benefit of knowing things. There were no official documents stating where they took the Africans from and where they sold them or where the Cherokee were from. Literally, no names will ever be known, at least by me. So I did what I could, and I think you should too ?

The author's comments:
This is for a writing entry for school

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.