One of the things I love about this time in my life is the opportunity to do more social justice work than ever before. As part of that I decided to face an ugly fact and research my mother’s family’s slave holding. I figured the south being the south at the time, and power being power there were probably children born into slavery whose father was my uncle many generations back.
I found Landon Carter Haynes as my maternal several greats (though not great to me) uncle. Wiki has him written up at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landon_Carter_Haynes. His home, Tipton-Haynes Place is now an historic site in Jonson City, Tennessee. Landon Carter Haynes owed his step brother George (presumably Haynes), and indeed put him up as collateral for personal debts. George was not actually sold through that process, however. George returned to his half brother/owner’s home and had a son named Habakkuk. I am looking for decedents of George and have hit a hard wall. Tipton-Haynes house was happy to put me on a register of decedents, along with dozens if not hundreds of white decedents, and not a single African American decedent. What is that about? African American’s not reaching out? Those requests being lost or relegated to the trash? The imbalance makes me furious and I know that isn’t even the tip of the iceberg.
My journey is about facing parts of my privilege as a white person and I hope getting to know people who are relatives, and were on the other side of slavery. It has been emotionally hard researching this information and I’ve told myself on more than one occasion that this isn’t the time for my white fragility to surface. This is a time to be real and face these facts. And I also do want to cry and I also want to say that I’m sorry this is all true.