Cousin Nat Turner
Now from the title of this post you already probably don’t believe me. But real life Nat Turner is my cousin. After seeing The Birth of a Nation I was talking about it with my mom and she was saying how Nat Turner is my cousin. She’s said this before and I’ve been like “... yeah, okay Ma,” but she broke it down for me and it’s really true and touching. My mom’s grandmother told her that her sister was Nat Turner’s mother. Aka my great grandmother was Nat Turner’s aunt. Therefore, Nat Turner is my cousin. My mom started telling me some stories her grandmother told her about Nat Turner but we were interrupted mid-conversation. (I hope to finish this conversation soon.) The Birth of a Nation was the catalyst for our conversation, but it lead to being something bigger than just this movie.
Realizing I’m really and truly related to such a pivotal person in history is incredible to me for so many reasons. The first being that Nat Turner’s incredible spirit and energy is engrained in my blood line. That’s crazy to consider. Just knowing this simple piece of information has given me a new sense of empowerment. I’m not only further inspired to to make a difference for the Black community, but I’m also further inspired to do research on other parts of my bloodline and rich history
Another thing that really tripped me out about this realization is knowing that my great grandmother’s generation were slaves. I feel like that’s something I cognizantly knew, but the actual emotional realization is huge. 3 or 4 generations ago my family members were being put through daily torture for no other reason than the fact that they were Black. Some of them were probably being viciously and publicly murdered, especially if they were known relatives of Nat Turner. This also means that 5 or 6 generations ago my people were taken from Africa, their homeland and all they knew, and brought to America.
Slavery was not that long ago. Unfortunately I have no living grandparents or great grandparents, but imagine the stories they could tell. Stories of hardships, times they had joy in the midst of their circumstances, and times they overcame struggles. Imagine what my accomplishments, the accomplishments of my brother and sisters, and the accomplishments of so many other Black people would mean to them today. I am studying Film & TV at one of the top Historically Black Universities in this country. My sister is an educator. My brother is a pilot. My sister-in-law is a nurse. Can you imagine what these things would mean to my ancestors?
There are times when as a Black person I’ve felt it pointless to try and figure out my lineage. My mom told me someone in our family tried and we can’t get past slavery due to no one keeping records. But as I think of it now, that’s incredibly rich history in itself. I look forward to talking with my parents and hearing the stories they were told about our history. I plan to make sure these stories are remembered for my children, their children, and more generations to come. I urge everyone, regardless of your race or ethnicity, to do the same. You never know what interesting things you’ll find out. It could inspire you and help you discover new things about yourself.