Reactions to PBS Docu-series Black in Latin America

In a Q & A piece about the PBS documentary “Black in Latin America” Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. explains that it was more difficult to drum up interest and support in developing this series than he had encountered in previous partnerships with PBS. No matter what one’s personal evaluation of the quality of the series or opinions about the man who spearheaded it, I think we should be extremely grateful that the topic has received a bigger spotlight than it ever has before. 

Given my interest (nee obsession?) with the topic I’m humbly offering my own reactions to the series.  I want to be sure to display my gratitude for the execution of this project by highlighting what was done well as well as offering constructive criticism or just observations about other directions that could have been taken. Continue reading

Diaspora on My Mind

I started this post a couple of nights ago when I absolutely could not fall asleep. I think the blame was split between the great documentary (The Neo-African Americans) I had seen earlier that night and that blasted extra espresso shot I agreed to let the barista pour into my vanilla latte a couple hours before that.  I’m not sure how to divvy up ownership of the blame (fifty-fifty is too simple) but the result is that, for whatever reason, my brain was dancing to the drums of my favorite obsession, black identity and the African diaspora, when it should have been dreaming of the ancestors. A television show I had watched a few days before also showed up to the the meeting in my mind so I figured that maybe if I unloaded some of the things going through my head it’d let me get some zzzzz’s.  (And hey, it wouldn’t hurt to add a post to my poor, neglected blog.) In this post I’ll focus on the season premiere of Who Do You Think You Are? 

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Dear 2011

Dear 2011,

I’m not going to dwell on all of the things I could’ve accomplished in 2010. Obviously there’s nothing productive that can come of that. Rather, let’s just focus on how you and I can work together over the next 12 months to make 2011 really count on the genealogical front. Continue reading

Hurricane Devastates Soufriere

An important part of my genealogical research involves learning about the places my ancestors came from by learning about their histories, cultural traditions, and contemporary social and political conditions.  As a start, I am posting the following “breaking news” regarding St. Lucia and Barbados.

Not only has a hurricane hit one of my maternal islands of origin, St. Lucia, it has apparently caused the most devastation in Soufriere, the part of the island we believe my great-grandmother once called home.  You can read about what is known of the damage here.

Another one of my islands, Barbados, sustained the most damage.  Even though they the Bajans will have to undergo their own recovery effort, they will also be offering aid to their neighbors that were affected – St. Lucia and St. Vincent & the Grenadines.

Kenneth

I’ve been on quite a hiatus, but I’m back! This summer has been a bit of a whirlwind. I finished things up at my previous job, started my new gig at an LA nonprofit, continued with my community college teaching internship, found a new place to live and moved in, bought a new car, and visited a dear friend in DC a couple of weeks before she gave birth to her first child.

Grandpa all decked out in what I suppose was his "heyday" back home in Panama.

Amidst all of this, my family got the news that my paternal grandfather had experienced a slight stroke in July.  Continue reading

Thomases in the U.S. Census Before Ever Stepping Foot in the U.S. (Mainland)

Over the past couple of years I have come across warnings about the disappointments that come with researching one’s family history.  Having conducted research in undergrad and graduate school, I understand that this process will not be linear and every clue I find will not always be immediately or easily understood or verifiable.  In particular, one thing I have come to understand about the task of answering a research question is that almost every discovery you make will lead to several more questions that need answering.  The following is a perfect example.

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