Im/migrant Stories

My book club is made up of an interesting group of women. We are all well educated with degrees from Stanford, Columbia, Northwestern, etc. We all like to read, at least enough to belong to a group that mind if you haven't finished the book, "Just come, and catch up!" We've all converged on the Bay Are. We are all at least partially Black/African American

Today, we each shared a part of our backgrounds that makes us different from one another: the stories of our families' migrations and immigrations. We were inspired by "The Warmth of Other Suns," a nonfiction book about three unrelated people who each were a part of Black's Great Migration out of the South.

Despite the things that bind us, our tales varied. One in our group - a chemical engineer - is the first in her family to leave the South. Another woman's parents left the South to pursue higher education but returned, PhDs and Master's degrees in hand, because they wanted to give back to the system that made them. There are several multiracial women in our group. Each of us were able to share the stories of our African American families' migration and our White families' immigration.

I feel fortunate to be a part of this group. All are strivers who have made the most of their boot straps, pulling themselves into lives rich with work, children, culture and travel. Lives made richer by honoring the family histories that make us who and what we are.

Family is a complicated thing. Up close, it can be painful. At best, embarrassing - I keenly remember a particular Hawaiian shirt my step dad loved to wear. At their worst, emotionally or physically damaging. We all have baggage. But, if you can back away and look at the big picture, that baggage includes brave travels, unimaginable ventures, a patchwork of people and places that, sewn together, produced me. And you.

I can't tell anyone how to interact with their family. All I can say, is that I am beyond glad that I had time to talk with most of my grandparents about their history. White, Black, Native American - all of that history is real and it's mine.

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