AAHGS National Conference – Atlanta, GA

AAGHS National Conference in Atlanta, GALast year, I had the honor of speaking at the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS) Conference in Richmond.  The day was rich with talks and conversations that ranged from a lecture about the false division between history and genealogy to conversations about how to use oral histories in writing about historical events.  I highly recommend the conference to anyone who is working or interested in this research.

I don’t know about you, but I find this work to really challenging in terms of the information abut also in terms of the emotional weight of this research.  It’s not an easy thing to dig into the legacy of oppression for hours on end.  This conference – and others like it – help all of us who do this work with the support of others. It’s like we are linking arms and standing together to read, learn, and share the interwoven story of African American people.

This year, the AAHGS Conference will be in Atlanta, Georgia on October 13-16, and the theme of the conference is:

The Ancestors on My Mind: Discovering our Ancestors, Our History, and Ourselves, TOGETHER. 

I won’t be able to attend this year, but I hope to get notes from some of my friends and stay up-to-date on the books written by presenters.

You can get more information about the conference by visiting the conference page on the AAHGS website.  They are still looking for presenters, and conference registration is now open.  

Each year, the conference grows, as it should, so I encourage you to attend – and even to submit a proposal – if you’re interested.  I’ll be there in spirit with you.

Immersing Myself In African American Voices

Immersing Myself in African American VoicesI’m still working out how to use my voice to bring more justice, to break down white supremacy, to remember those our society and our institutions have intentionally forgotten.

One of the ideas I’m considering is committing to read almost exclusively African American authors for the rest of 2015. I need to make some radical choices to shift my perspective, to unnormalize my own whiteness.  This may be one way I try to do that.

As I read from Drew Hart‘s Trouble I’ve Seen this morning, I realized how very much I am still steeped in white supremacy, how so much of my understanding of the world is shaped by the idea that the white perspective is the right perspective . . . or worse, that it isn’t perspective at all, but truth.  I need to dismantle that for myself, first, so I can help dismantle it for others.

Years ago, when I was still teaching freshman composition, one of my students, Michael, said, “Why is white English the right English, Ms. Andi?”  I’ve carried Michael’s question with me for years. It’s one of those shaping statements, the ones that burrow in and disrupt.

I’m learning that when I feel uncomfortable, I need to pay attention. When something challenges my perspective, I need to silence my urge to defend myself or feel hurt and turn instead to empathy, to reach and stretch to understand.  It’s not a pleasant thing, this growing, this unnormalizing whiteness, not for this white woman.  But it’s essential.  Absolutely essential as a work of justice in my own heart.

So I am, I am going to read almost exclusively books my African American authors for the rest of this year.  I’ll be sharing my thoughts on those books here, and I welcome your recommendations for my reading.  What books by African Americans would you recommend I read?  Please share in the comments below.  

Today, I leave you with the Bowie State Cheerleaders using their bodies and their talents to speak the truth.

Get to Know The Slave Dwelling Project

The Slave Dwelling Project

Y’all know about the Slave Dwelling Project, right?  If not, now’s the time.

The Slave Dwelling Project’s mission is to identify and assist property owners, government agencies and organizations to preserve extant slave dwellings.

As someone who grew up on a plantation that still had standing slave dwellings and worries – still – that those buildings will not be tended well, as someone who has seen what happens when these buildings aren’t noted and mapped, as someone who has had the honor of walking into dozens of slave dwellings and touching the walls and mantels where enslaved people laid their hands, I cannot get behind this work enough.

The Project is having a conference in September 2016 in Columbia, SC, and I have been invited to speak there.  I’m completely honored, and I’d love to see some of you there, too.  You can get details about the conference here – http://slavedwellingproject.org/2016-slave-dwelling-project-chas/.

If you’d like to see where Joseph McGill, the Project’s founder, and his team will be staying this year, check out this link.

And if you have access to a standing slave dwelling, why not invite Joe and his team to spend a night there?  You can contact him about that possibility through this link.

I’ve had the honor of meeting and speaking with Joe and members of the Project on several occasions, including during their visit in 2015 to Monticello, and I am always impressed by their passion and commitment.

It’s definitely worth your time to get to know their work.

 

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