When Morgan Jerkins traveled the United States in search of her roots, she didn’t just look up the reputable records, beneficial as they every so often were. She talked to relatives and informed strangers to explore what she calls the “whisper” tales: the ones African Americans and Native Americans quietly pass on via generations, because they are afraid to speak them too loudly.
In the sensitive, insightful Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots, Jerkins, an African American in her 20s raised on the whole in New Jersey, recounts her journey to discover the which means of those memories for her very own loved ones, in addition to for the hundreds of thousands of others who moved north during the Great Migration. Seemingly unimportant traditions like consuming black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day and half-severe references to “roots” hexes turn out to be vital clues to the culture of abducted Africans in Georgia, North Carolina and Louisiana.
Jerkins unearths the hard truths of racism in her research: a great-grandfather who fled a lynching threat; Gullah landowners forced off their belongings by way of whites; family who “passed” as white and cut own family ties. But she also struggles emotionally with the discovery that her background is more various than she had understood. Among her ancestors are whites, loose Creole humans of coloration who owned slaves, and, possibly, Native Americans.
After her illuminating visits to Louisiana, Oklahoma and the Georgia-South Carolina low country, Jerkins ends in Los Angeles, in which she spent part of her childhood. California, she says, become the final Promised Land for black human beings, but it became out to be as disappointing as anywhere else. Now many African Americans are leaving in a reverse migration to the South.
As Jerkins finishes her transferring chronicle, she says she is “exhausted” via the regular racial violence she finds, most recently inside the massacres in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, wherein a excessive proportion of the victims were humans of color. One manner forward, she writes, is for black humans to “regain their narrative and contextualize the shame.” The answer, Jerkins says, is not flight however authentic community informed with the aid of deep know-how of the past.