Unwrapping Vanessa Art Rage Gallery 2017

The Grandmothers: Celeste B. Roberts and Molly Johnson

The envelope came in the mail - three months late! It was promised months ago, and I had waited generations of lifetimes for these answers. My hands trembled as I took the envelope from the mailbox, convulsed as I turned it over to the side that was sealed. I felt my soul soar into my throat, and I could barely breathe! Tears streamed down my face as I felt the Ancestors gathering around me. A hand on my shoulder, a soothing stroke down my cheek, a whispered invitation. “It is time, my daughter, to know more of who you are.” I found that I couldn’t open that envelope, standing there alone on my porch. The mysteries that would be revealed didn’t belong just to me. I pulled out my cell phone, and I called my Mother. Dad had died a month earlier, some tears a an honoring of in his memory. “What’s wrong?” Mom asked, hearing the tension in my voice. “I had my DNA tested, a sample taken by the Howard University Genome Project. They were at the National Underground Railroad Museum in Cincinnati when I was there. They tested everyone that wanted to be tested, for free! The results came in the mail today! Mama, in this envelope is our history, your history - they tested my Mitochondrial DNA. Our mother’s, mother’s, mother’s, mother.” I opened the envelope with prayerful hands.

“We are from Sierra Leone, Mama. We are Mende!”