My mom has been
obsessed immersed in our Bajan ancestry for a few years now. The deeper she goes into her research, the more interesting (and often frustrating) it gets. Today, I received her written instructions in the mail outlining my responsibilities when I get to Barbados in mid-March and make my way to the Archives Department. Wish me luck; it's been two years since she made an in-person (paid) request for family documents....and nada.
|Award-winning author Andrea Stuart|
On her nightstand right now is Sugar in the Blood: A Family's Story of Slavery and Empire by Andrea Stuart, an award-winng author and descendant of a slave owner and a slave. Ms. Stuart's "earliest known maternal ancestors, George Ashby, set sail from England to settle in Barbados...and fell into the life of a sugar plantation owner by mere chance...." I haven't read the book about her family tree yet, but I understand there is also a correlation between Ms. Stuart's Irish ancestors and Barbados, and I believe that is a part of what has captured my mother's interest since my grandfather (her father) is of Irish (maybe even Scottish) descent. A summary of Ms. Stuart's NPR author interview (along with the actual interview) can be found here. It's pretty interesting, although sad for reasons I'm sure I don't have to explain. The last time I got in a funk about the history of slavery in Barbados was on a plantation tour.
The irony of this post and my visit to Barbados next month is that the next time I set foot on Bim, I'm going to be relaxing at Elite Island Resorts' newest property, The Club Barbados -- a far, far cry from the challenges and horrors of slavery. And you can bet that even though I'd like to read Sugar in the Blood at some point, I'll definitely be carrying some far lighter reading for laying around under the shade of a mahogany tree. #trustme
I love that my mother is documenting our history while I admit that I wasn't really moved at first. The more she gets into it, however, the more I get into it, and the more I become attached to long-ago family members I've never even known. As a show of appreciation, I've ordered a little surprise for my mom from England (pictured below) that I think she'll like. It is the least that I can do for a woman who has given me the ultimate gift of our Barbadian family history.
Thanks for listening...