Author: Cleo Lebron
It’s not that lab estimates about the contents of my blood will take anything from the things my heart knows, it’s about wondering who I might be lost from, confronting the physical evidence of an unfathomable violence that lives in my every cell, and speaking fuck yous.

My father has been a family tree hobbyist/enthusiast for as long as forever. With an absent father–whom we have photo of and who blatantly resembles my father– the near entirety of my dad’s family tree details the offspring and unions of the streams that my paternal grandmother’s blood flowed from, Grandma Piezy. And as a result of my father’s fondness for his mother, called to other realms when her only son was just 20 years old, I am affectionately known to him as “Sweetie Pie, Piezy Love.”

Through Piezy, over 200 years can be directly traced but are stunted at around 1794 with my 4x great grandfather, Isaac Rice Sr of Narragansett, RI. With strong roots in nearby Newport, RI and verbal accounts from elders, inferences of Narragansett ancestry have been more than haphazard speculations.

I’ve inquired before about getting this inheritance ‘officially’ recognized but the requirement is to be able to trace your genealogy to someone whose name appears on the Tribal Rolls signed in 1880-1884; with the records and documentation available to us, federal recognition is not possible. This fact never mattered much to me because I know that genocide is committed through things like official paperwork, and what can the United States government tell me that would over rule what my ancestors know of themselves?

I definitely expected my results to show ancestry indigenous to this land, the bare soles of my feet upon the earth have already assured me. The percentage is irrelevant to me but I presume it will be low, DNA works like that. Yet what ancestors have spoken into our blood cannot be erased, and exists in my entire body.

Now and always, my existence is resistance.

As the realities of the impending results became clearer, my stomach learned to turn at the thought of discovering how many fuck yous I would be unleashing.

Truly, thinking about the European portion of the results was the single most vicious part of the ancestry DNA process. At no point did I ever lose complete interest in knowing, but I was honest with myself in knowing that anything over the expected ~30% was going to knock the wind out of me, at least for a moment.

It was rumored among older kin that my father’s biological father was from Spain but no one knew many details besides that his name was Antonio Lacaro. His name was shown on one of the two photos we have of him, pictured in military uniform.

I haven’t spent very much of my life thinking of him at all except wondering where he was from; to this day we don’t know much. My dad says he has made peace in his heart with him so I’m happy for his peace. On my end, I don’t claim him.

Assuming he’s from Spain as the rumor has it, he’d be another white man who took no responsibility for the transgressions against us, and the closest one to me. If he wasn’t European I’d have more interest in knowing him, mainly because I’d be interested in knowing his mother.

I was at odds with myself as I was bothered over the mere fact that I was giving attention to such white centered thoughts. Knowing the results changed nothing but meant something, I decided to just allow myself the space to process whatever I found myself toiling with.

There was never any consideration within me for altering my self identification to accommodate recognition of whiteness, I can not even conceive any possible reasoning for such an adjustment. My entire existence is an affirmation of blackness, indigeneity, and womanhood, and no romantic illusions of Grandfather dearest impede my active rejection of whiteness within me and without apologies. 

Perhaps what I most looked forward to was knowing which lands birthed my African ancestors.

Black without a moment wasted on a desire to quantify it, my question was never “how black am I?” Instead, it was “whose tongue spoke my blood into existence?”

Who sang for me? Who called out our names? Who sent wraths in our honor? Who spoke spells of protection? Who held themselves with gaping valleys in their bellies sobbing to the moon? Whose spoons stirred? Who birthed such resilience? Whose eyes bore witness? Whose feet stomped and mouth lashed? Whose palms held the hands in my blood?

Today and always, I call to them, “take my chin in your embrace, tilt my face towards your sunlight, let my tears wash as you breath life into me. Cover me in your prayers and pull me tightly into your chest; say my name and hum into my temples.  Sweetest love, you are a mother.”


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