Going home, with Angela Gray

Kerry:   It’s an interesting space here in Niagara as we are creating because there are a lot of biracial children here. So what we’re finding and it’s been my travels as well, that I’ve got a lot of parents who are white, who have Black children don’t understand, but yet still want to offer support. And I think we need to build and feel into that space to be able to offer the spots for our Black kids and that space of what is it to be in this cultural identity? In this cultural, you know, your Black body is still a Black body, even if your white folk are raising you. You know what I’m saying

Angela:  Well, that’s

Patty:  Angela’s like Yeah.

Kerry:   I was going to say, I know you’re getting this Angela.

Angela:  It’s familiar somehow

Kerry:  And so that is a space that we are in and I thought it would be a great thing to maybe open up to and with you, Angela. Um, as you you know, know this firsthand. And you have had that moment to visit.

Patty:  Let’s hear about it.

Kerry:  Yeah, let’s hear about it.

Angela:  Well, well, no, it’s well, it was a journey. And you know, what I will I will start with is paraphrasing what you finished with in our last interview, Patty, was that the land remembers you.

And so I carried that with me. Through all my fear, right, like I went back there on my own by myself, I’ve haven’t traveled. I think, you know, what I’ve learned is I think that women should travel on their own at some point in their life. I think it’s important for self-empowerment. I think it’s important for giving yourself a sense of what you can do. Like I moved out, you know, I lived on my own at a young age and I came out to Vancouver on my own and I did those things, but to travel to another country on your own is something completely different.  And I think you know, I’m definitely different having done that, not just from going to discover my roots, but I have a sense of myself in the world as an older woman, more so than I have ever.

So, you know, I was in there’s a moment where I was on the beach Cable Beach not far from where I was staying in Seven Mile Bay and I and I heard the water and it was the first time and I just thought yeah, I know this. I remember, thinking, Patty, thinking I could do that because it was scary going there. It was scary  landing in Jamaica at seven o’clock when is dark and not being able to find your hostess to pick you up and you know, it was scary being in an environment where it was all Black people. I’ve never been like that. I’ve never been on an airplane where it’s filled with Black people. You know, I’ve never I’ve never been yelled at it by customs agents in an airport happened like three times anyway, probably should travel more. You know? So it was scary. And then I was angry because I was on my own. And, you know, I wanted to be with somebody that I loved, you know, sharing this experience with. And then I got all over that. I got over that and I said, Okay, you’re here, Buck up and get it done. So it didn’t occur to me until probably the last day that I was there that I was in Jamaica during Black History Month.

Patty:   Oh, yeah.

Angela:  Right. Uh huh. We didn’t. And you know, it was it was hard to understand patois. Should have  practiced  that more than my Spanish that I’ve been practicing for two years. But I got, I got a, you know, I got a sense of it. But I think, you know, the experience itself was enlightening and crying and all of that stuff. And it was, you know, my Airbnb hosts were great because they were, they were, you know, they were on this mission to help me find my father and, and they were on this mission to help me find my uncle, who, you know, I was in Seven Miles Bay and he was in Yelys which was, you know, 25-30 minutes away from where I was staying. And this is the tricky things about history and family and then I’m learning and navigating  as I move through this.

My mother doesn’t want me to know my history really. She didn’t want me to connect really with family. She’s given me names, but she didn’t really want me to find this information. And I didn’t really actually realize how deeply that was until I got to Jamaica. Because up to that point, she was like, oh, I’ll help you and I’ll help you. And then it was, you know, while your uncle doesn’t have the space to stay and you know, he doesn’t. He doesn’t. All these things, all these excuses and I was like, Okay, well what’s going on here? Like what why are you Why is it not as important to you for me to hear about my history?

And so those, you know, those pieces of intergenerational trauma, right?  or her upbringing in Jamaica, and who she was as a young as a young woman, you know, you know, and I’ll get to this, but I did end up discovering some family, lots of family overwhelmingly so.  Be careful what you wish for.

But she was you know, she was known as a Pretty Brown Girl. So she you know, had a lot of boyfriends you know, and it’s not that I want to disclose a lot of secret family secrets because I know you know, it’s hard for people when you know family members are writers. It’s there, so multiple multiple relationships with multiple children. So whatever that was about for her whatever was going on whether it whether that culturally what was ever happening there she doesn’t want me to know that story. So it angers me, but it also intrigues me to find out more about where I where I’ve come from and I  vacillate between the anger and the intrigue.

Patty:  Make sense.

Angela:  So so when I got there, you know, when my Airbnb host was asking me about, oh, you haven’t heard you know, you haven’t tasted breadfruit.  You don’t know what aki is or salt fish?  And so she’s  like, we gotta darken you up.

Kerry:  love it.

Angela:  And I’m just like, all right.

And then when they discovered while I was there and I was like, Oh, so you pick Seven Mile because you’re close to Yellys, you’re hoping to get the Yellys and I said I’m hoping. So they, you know, Jamaica is a small country. So they really do rely on their old timers and their, you know, their, their human telephone line to get you information. And so and then the connection from Kerry with Eddie, I was able to find out some information so I’m just going to take you on a little journey of Jamaica.

Um, so my first day there was, you know, just getting settled and, you know, Cable Beach, which was just the ocean and, you know, I didn’t care. I didn’t I really didn’t care. It wasn’t a sandy beach. It was a rough beach, it was a surfing beach, but it was just to be there and to feel the water and to, you know, to smell it and, and it was just something that this was right, this is the right time.

 And so, my host, you know, when they heard why I was there, and then I wanted to find out more information about my father, and you know, that he he’s, he’s dead now. So they’re, you know, go to the registry so it just so happened that my host Yvonne and her husband, Tracy, they, they were both off that first week that I was there. So she took me down to downtown Kingston I don’t know if  it was downtown but it was Kingston and, you know, was showing me around and it was it was startling.

It was it was startling people driving They’re not just being it’s not just on being in a car, you know, and, you know, forgetting which door you’re supposed to get into, it was just driving, you know, kids aren’t in car seats, they’re like, it’s just different. And, you know, I I don’t have like, I know how to drive, I don’t have my license. And I have, you know, some anxiety around that. So after that experience, like, I can get my license now. You know, you know, it was like the best experience to get over driving and anxiety and it goes by I was hit by a car many, many years ago. So it’s just like, you know, at the time when I was trying to get my license, then I got hit by a car and that kind of curtailed the whole adventure for me. So that was you know, and kids aren’t in car seats and I you know, I held a baby in my lap and it was like, that’s, that’s the norm but I didn’t see one accident the entire time I was there. Not one, and  I was in cars a lot. So that was that was interesting.

But um, getting downtown. Early days there’s no nothing on the street. It’s kind of barren. And then you go into like a government office., which was interesting. Because people rally themselves they were getting mad at the security guards for not you know, people’s orders are wrong. And then I realized that I’m not going to talk because as soon as I opened their my mouth, they’re gonna know I’m not from here. So, I was nodding a lot.

And being ushered out of my seat. This person was here first, and I was yeah, yep, she was here first. Absolutely. No problem. I’m yelling at the security guards. That was interesting. But it was interesting to be in a government space, where’s all Black people. I was served by Black people. And I was surrounded by Black people never experienced that before in my life ever.

Kerry:   what when you were in that space? How did that make you feel? There’s  definitely a difference in the way that there’s an interaction because I know from my own experience, as well, when I’ve stepped into that, and I, everybody, the judges, you know, the secretaries, the officials, everybody looks like you. It becomes like, for me, it was like, wow, what did you think of that? Like, what was that experience like?

Angela:  For me, it was grounding, because it’s like, there’s a world out there that looks like me. Because when you’re in a white environment, your entire life, even though I was raised with my twin brother, even though there’s other Black kids in the house, it’s not the same, right?

And what’s missing in all that is the mentorship as well. So to see, you know, government employees that are doing well.  I do well in my life, I’ve done well, but it’s different. Okay. And then to see, you know, I was in the registry office, so there’s a special big, strong, beautiful Black woman that came in and you know, and she was a lawyer helping her clients, but she had a client there that she was helping, but she was talking to everybody. So there was a collectiveness, a well of support in the government office, it was just, it was like, wow, I belong somewhere.

And, I mean, I didn’t leave there getting any more information about my father, like, I got no information. But what I left there was a stronger sense of my own purpose. And that’s just one experience, you know, in a government office.

From there, we went to the National Art Gallery of Jamaica, and it was the first time that I’ve been in a space where it was Black art. It was the art done, either by Black people or about Black people. The whole space and I’m never experienced that before. And I actually was crying when I finished going walking through it, I took all these pictures and, and but it brought me to tears because, wow. Iit’s like I paint and I do all this things and I’m you know and all these things but and you know some people creative people have this this drive and I do in my own way to get it out there and to do, but I’ve always felt this sort of lacking in  mentorship around these things. And that the drive is a little bit harder to get to like my drive has been great to nourish my son and to raise him as best I can and to be a strong supportive mother. And that’s been my drive. And I and now as I’m older I’m having more drive in my writing, wanting to get that out there and that act of his voice.

But I wonder what it would have been like if I had more of that mentorship and that feeling when I was younger, if I saw more of that if I experienced more. I wonder if I would have gotten for me. You can only be where you are. But I do wonder. And so I I cried, cried a lot.

And then we walked over to the memory bank. So there’s the name the full name escapes me because it’s a long one but it’s the memory bank of Jamaican history and talks about where the people came from. And so yeah, it was it was an exhibit it was the second day of an exhibit around the migration of slaves from Africa to Jamaica. And, and you can trace where you came from. So, my great grandmother was an African slave and she married an Irish slave. She would have come from either Sierra Leone or Nigeria. So it was nice to get that. More than likely she came from Sierra Leone because most majority of the slaves that came to Jamaica were from there. And so it’s like wow, that you know, I could trace my roots all the way back there on that on my Black roots all the way back there.

And then and then I mean I cried again because it showed you the migration, you saw the chains you saw the, you know, the wrist. It was …  not only did you see it, you could feel it. And there’s something different about you can see it on television and you can read it in a book or see a picture of it, but when you see that stuff up, and you see that shit close,

It really does something to you. It really …

And then, you know, to talk about the lives that were lost, you know, and that’s what strikes me about what’s going on. And we can draw a parallel around what’s going on right now. It’s like this shit’s been going on for centuries. You know, the, the dismissal of human life because of the color of their skin, and the lack of sense of their worth, or their humaneness because of their color their skin has been going on for centuries. So, what I get incensed by about right now is, you know, and it is, you know, it’s it’s good that, you know, we see what happened to George Floyd.

And then it’s not good because this has been going on for a long fucking time. And so we can’t also just hold one image of one person, we need to have the collective voice of all those people, all those people, generations of people that have lost their sight because of the same inherent belief system, and the dumbing down of that.

So, that’s what that exhibit made me feel. And I felt sick and good that I saw it when I left.

Kerry:  I’m just, I’m drinking you in and even in just this exchange, you know,  I think we just remember. You know, our ancestors are right there. And when you are walking through an exhibit like that, they’re whispering. And I feel it. I it’s just just from you, moving through it. I feel it.

Patty:  Well, I know my own experiences like when I went to the Pelican Lake Residential School, there’s a memorial there. And when I went to the Mush Hole, which is a residential school, just outside   Brantford, Ontario, you know, that that feeling of the you know, and the rooms that you go into, and the stories that they tell you, that the survivors who’ve been on this tour told them and so now they’re saying, Well, you know, last month so survivor was on the tour, and he told me about this thing that happened in this room.

And I mean, you’re right, when you when you see, you know, the manacles and you see the chains and you know, you see the rooms where parents visited with their children, it just makes it so tangible and real. And I think, like as an Indigenous person, I tour that residential school in a much different way than anybody else does. And you know, as a Black woman, you tour that, you know, that Memorial that Museum in a much different way than I would if I went through it like it’s, you know, there’s a connection to it that just doesn’t exist for anybody else. And so it can’t you know, so I’ve got a sense from my own experiences with, you know, these two spaces that I’ve been in. But yeah, it’s ..

I just think like we went through the Holocaust Museum when we were in Washington, DC years and years ago, but we toured the Holocaust Museum cuz I’m a good mother. And so I take my eight year old through the Holocaust Museum, and you walk past those things, right? The spoons and the shoes, like there’s one hall that you walk through, that’s all it’s just shoes. It’s like thousands of shoes, and it’s heart wrenching seeing it because it’s just, we see these things in movies and on television, and we talk about them in theory, but we forget one that it’s real and two it’s not that far. It’s not that long ago.

Yeah. Like What Did you say was your great grandmother, your great great grandmother

Angela: My, great grandmother,

Patty:  Your great grandmother. That’s not that long ago. Like I’ve got firsthand accounts from my grandmother. So my grandmother is 101. And I have first-hand accounts from her of the years following the Russian Revolution. You know what happened in 1917? I’ve got first-hand accounts of that of her own experience, because her parents, you know, they’re petit bourgeoisie, they owned a factory. And so I’ve got her first hand account of something that happened over 100 years ago.

 And if she had been born in Atlanta, instead of the Ukraine, I would have secondhand accounts of slavery from her  because of when she was born, as we think of this stuff as being so long ago. But it’s not. It’s really not like, wasn’t it Martin Luther King, Anne Frank and Barbara Walters would be the same age.. They would be the same age if Anne Frank and King can hadn’t been hadn’t died. They They’d be talking heads on CNN. Right.

But we think of that stuff is so long ago and it really isn’t. It really isn’t. It’s just your great grandmother. Yeah. That’s hand over hand memory. That’s and the people who were screaming at little Ruby Bridges trying to go to school. They’re voting. They’re still alive. They’re voting. They’re in charge of things. They’re training police officers. It’s not that long ago, I guess it’s no surprise that what’s happening now is happening now. Because it’s not that long ago, the people who screamed over desegregating schools are still voting. They’re still alive, they’re still here.

Kerry:  And I so I so hear you Patty. And really, you know, thank you for that. It gives some real perspective as to timelines and and how how, you know, I always say I just wrote a post recently. It was I always mentioned how nothing is new under the sun. You know? As as we watch George George Floyd and this unfortunate experience, and we have all been just going with the blowback.

Remember there was Sandra Bland, you know, remember just how I I had to slow down and just stop for a good week. Just stop. I felt like every one of my ancestors was in the room with me.

Angela:  Right. Right.

Patty:  Regina Kochinski Paquette was what a week later?

Kerry:  Thank you. The names are blurred of me, because it’s all the same. The pain is the pain is the pain.

Angela:  Yes. And that Yes, ma’am. Yes. And that.

Kerry:  And I really do believe we haven’t had enough of that to sit in it enough. And I really, when we were I was I’ve had gone to Jamaica as well. And I had no idea that they had a museum of such that had an exhibit in such a way. I don’t know, it was probably a new exhibit at the time you were there. I was there a couple years before you. But I, you know, it really struck me from so as much as you’ve said this far, was that you got a chance to know where your ancestry probably came from.

Angela:Yes.

Kerry: Like that. I was like, really? Can I go? You know, what, what a difference that must make.

Angela:  It made a huge difference for me because it’s not as much as it’s very grounding in terms of you know, like my grandfather, my great grandfather from Ireland, that’s very that’s tangible, right? Africa’s not so tangible because it’s such a big continent, you know, where slavery but it’s, you can do the research but it’s not as tangible and for them to pinpoint it, these are the people that came here. These are, where they’re from, and what was also and there is there is, a part of you and I wanted to get there and hopefully next time there is a community that the people that live in the community maintain the traditions from Africa, Right. It’s near I think believe is near Montego Bay.

Kerry:  Isn’t it the Maroons?

Angela; Yes

Kerry:  I was there for one of their one of their ancient ceremonies, actually, through a group that I’m involved in We went it’s called a kumpa. We went up. It’s normally in January. And yes, the Maroons and that experience going up into the hills. And the Maroons decided and chose that they were going to remain free. And watching, watching the certain rituals and ceremonies that they have are very secret you cannot watch, but they do some that are demonstrated for all of us to experience and watching some of their old practices like they would put up smoke signals, which is an interesting practice in the hills because they’re all where they are located is all up in the hills. And so they would use smoke signals to signal when the British were coming and their tactics its Nanny is it Nanny. What is her name? Oh my goodness, the maroon warrior queen. She was the general who actually ran their armies. And and it was a female and she was like Solja Man says she was a sister and a soldier.

And she commanded those armies were after a while they just gave them. The British gave up. They couldn’t win. They couldn’t get up those mountains, and they very much managed to preserve. And that was an experience of just beauty as well. So I can relate to just knowing that you’ve come home and being around in those kinds of a space where our own stood stood tall, because we always hear about slavery and being free. We don’t discuss enough about these the stories and the truth of that we were always fighting. We were always rebelling, we fought just as much when like we laid down and decided we were going 300 years a, aka a, you know, against Kanye West who wants to believe that it was a choice. We weren’t choosing it. No, most of the time we were fighting.

Angela:  We were and that’s, that’s the thing you know a lot of people,  more than one person before I made this journey talked about, you’re not just gonna it’s not just about the trauma, it’s about discovering your resiliency and the resiliency, the people that came before you.  And your strength and then, you know, I mean, my hairdresser had said something like, you’re gonna you’re going to feel stronger, you’re going to feel more you’re going to more capable, more able. And he’s right, right. He was right. And so having those moments and, and all the you know, the fun moments Right like I was driving with Eddy one day and a couple times through Kingston and we went up to Anato Bay where my father apparently worked and we went to Port Antonio and they were important to me and I see all these goats on the side of the street and they’re just goats. They’re just roaming like you won’t see goats and Vancouver roaming around the side of the street. And I said, Eddy where the goats going?  Goats going home.

Kerry:  I think we I would love to just do a very short shout out to Eddie. Anybody if you’re listening to this podcast and you are looking for a guide

Patty:  Oh poor  Eddie

Angela:  it is true though. You really do. He is such a great guy. I’ll tell you the best story about Eddie. Okay

Eddie, Kerry makes the hook up. He’s like persistent as all get go. Like he’s wanting to connect with me to do this like this. Like, he’s got my back. I don’t even know this guy. He’s got my back. Beauty beauty. And so he we finally connect on the Thursday. The first week we were there and I’m a little bit apprehensive and I’m like, I said to Yvonne that, you know, this guy’s coming in the house. He was like insistent on coming to meet me and I’m a little bit apprehensive, and she’s like, well just take him upstairs to your balcony. She didn’t want anything to do with it.

So, He comes up comes around the back up to the balcony, we’re sitting down there and and I’m telling you my story like you just you sit down and you’re in the presence of this man and everything this is spilling out like you didn’t get it like you know, I can be reserved. And I can keep things to the chest when I really, you know, feel. It’s not even a word thing. It’s like I have to feel their energy to feel like not trust them enough. And it was like, instantly there’s like it’s all spilling out there. And so he just says, Well, you know what I’m gonna do for you.

Alright Eddy, wWhat are you gonna do for me? So I’m going to take it, uh, we’re going to do a day trip. I’m going to take you to port on, you know, Anatole Bay, you’re going to meet your you know, find out about your father, we’re going to go up to Port  Antonio is going to take about a day I’ll come pick you up. Let’s do that on Tuesday next week. Okay. And then he says, you know, and today I’m going to take you I’m going to take you to this Rasta Hut. Why don’t you go downstairs and ask Yvonne if she wants to come with me because she knew that I probably wasn’t going to go on my own. And so he takes us to this Rasta Hut. And we have the best fish I’ve ever tasted in my fucking like, pardon me, but it is so true.

And I said, you know, Eddie, like how do you cook this and You’re never going to be able to repeat this. Yeah, this is you know, it’s this it’s the smoke in the fire. It’s the sand in the pan. It’s the you know the you know, the the breeze off the water, you’re never going to recreate this. And he’s right. Like he’s absolutely right.

So, I’m talking to him about my wanting to find my father and you know what his name is. And I’d been to the registry and they had no information they couldn’t find anything about nobody registered his death that I found out. My mother gave me the wrong name. So she doesn’t want me to know, but I’m pretty persistent. So.So Eddie,Eddie, I get in the car Tuesday morning. And I’m settling in by this point. I’m feeling comfortable with him and this is all good. And he turns to me says so I found out about your father.

He’s from Clarendon. He’s from Clarendon parish and you have a brother and your brother’s mother and your brother and his mother living in California. And I just kind of sit back in the chair. And I went, Alright, let me just think about this for a second. I’m just sitting back there and he looks at me says, you know, maybe I should take you to a spa. Maybe it’s just a spa day. How about we go to a spa.

And I’m like, no, Eddie, I’m good. Really? I’m good. Let’s just go to Annatole Bay. I want to know where my father work. Let’s just go let’s just do it. So we go and he’s got the best music in his car. Like there was not a song on his disc that I didn’t like or didn’t resonate with me that day. We’re driving off to the mountains and we stopped at this soup hut, ironically across from a police station in the mountains but and I had the you know, crawfish soup. It was delicious, like, you know, he’s all about the food. So it’s like, run and get some information and the food, oh man. And, you know, we go to Anatole Bay and we go to where my father worked and they didn’t remember him. I didn’t think they would but it was nice to see where he lived or where he worked and it’s nice to see the town where he was in and and then we went out to Port Antonio. That’s where my my grandfather who came over from Panama, that’s where he first lived was in Port Antonio and then moved to where he raised his, where he married his wife and raised nine kids. Hmm.

And so,so that and we had the best jerk I’ve ever tasted in my life. Oh my god. Honestly.

Kerry:   Are you getting the impression and Eddy’s all about the food. He really is.

Angela:  No, seriously. He’s about the food is really about the food.

Kerry:   And what was one of I, I loved about the Eddie experience and why I’m just bringing him up is that we have, um, I know as a woman who’s not from Jamaica, as a still a West Indian, but not from the island of Jamaica. We have had some interesting ideas of what the Jamaican man is supposed to be. And what for me, Eddie, was the best example of any man I’ve ever seen in my life. He has a, it really brought home for me how quickly and easy it is to exist in the stereotypes.  Even as a Black woman with an I’ve had Black models of men, but what what comes up when we, you know, when Jamaican men have come front and center, it’s not necessarily been that first thought. And Eddie himself just has this uncanny knack. He is to, to be able to just know what you need even before you need it. And he provides that kind of an experience. And not only that, though, he stood just in a certain caliber of what the masculine should feel and look like. And it was it was for me, just such a learning experience about being settled. You know what I mean? And when I when I knew you were going, the first thing that I thought was that you Oh, has to be Eddie.

Eddie, you are so loved even in you know, years after the experience for us. A real reinforcements  of the spirit of the Jamaican people, and also the spirit of what’s what we have how the colonial system has shaped some of the ideas and understandings of what, you know, I know for myself I have seen.

Angela:  Yes, yeah. Right. Yeah,

Kerry:  it definitely changed it for me. It did

Angela:  and, you know, the male presence, I think it’s really important to, you know, to talk about that in the context of all that’s going on in the world, too. And all the, you know, when we talk about evolving those traumas or whatever they might have been, and Eddy and I had some really good talks, and I don’t you know, it’s not my place to share his story. But what I do take from him is his commitment to his own growth and moving forward. Right and that men can, anybody can women can we do this we can evolve those stereotypes of what we think, as young people we can grow into. And he’s really been the epitome of that. And how he cares for his family and, and how he’s been able to overcome adversity and start again.

And you know, and you’re right. Like he knew, you know,  sitting down that first day, he knew what I needed. He absolutely knew. And he gave, he didn’t have to give what he gave. But what he knew is that I needed this experience, and that he was going to do whatever he couldn’t make sure that I have the experience I needed, and for my own growth and for my own healing, and that is the spirit of a really heart centered person is to do that to somebody they have never met before. With no obligation, with no connection to expectation. They just did it because it was the right thing to do.

And you know that he does that in his life and he doesn’t hold anybody against it. You know that and that’s the true spirit of giving. That’s what it is. And I’ve encountered that many times in my life. I’m not saying that but I think that he did that and so did and maybe that’s maybe that’s the people maybe that is the spirit of Jamaica. I don’t know. I know that my Airbnb people did that in their own way, too. I know that like Eddy got the father connection which you know, it continues to grow. My Airbnb people got my uncle connection.

You know, so, you know, we were sitting down talking and, and he said, Tracy, Yvonne’s husband said, they said, Well, you know, we know a guy in Yellys. Why don’t we get in touch with him and see if he knows your uncle. And they did. So this is, you know, this is that the human chain, right like Eddy connected with an old timer that that knew my father and or knew his name and, and Prince his last name is Prince there’s not very many princes around there and my mother’s last name is Gibson. There’s not very many Gibson’s around there, so they’re easy to kind of track them down.

But, you know, what was sad and, and good at the same time was that the day that I went back to work, I got back on the 29th and started back to work on that Monday. I get a call. I’m sitting at my desk, and it’s Yvonne and she says, we got in touch with your uncle. Here’s his number, give them a call.

Kerry:  Wow.

Angela:  And I didn’t hear the call and call him and a half an hour. I thought, I’m going to do this now. And then he said, can you call me back and a half an hour. I said, Sure. Sure. And then I talked to my I’ll go for the first time. And then that night, I talked to my uncle, and my cousin, no, my uncle and an aunt, and another aunt. And then that week I talked to two cousins, all and they’re all like in the States. And then I talked to a brother and another brother and another aunt. Um, and this has been the journey since I’ve gotten back.

And it’s been a beautiful journey. And it’s been really difficult. And it’s been overwhelming. And it’s been, I’m not sure I want to be associated with some of these people. One of these people, ok not  someone, one. So because they, people have different expectations around what family is. And I’m not a young woman, so I’m not necessarily looking out, you know, I have a deep connection with my twin brother. He’s my family, my, my son is my family, I’ve got some close friends that our family not necessarily looking to, for those expectations and obligations.

So when family comes into your life later in life, it’s about how do you manage this with, you know, wanting to have those connections? And and do you really want to have these connections? Do you need to have these connections. It raised all these questions that I wouldn’t even thought of before. And so what I’ve come to is that I don’t do unhealthy relationships with anybody, whether they’re family or not. And so I’ve had to, you know, start a relationship and end a relationship very quickly because of that. But I’ve met with these really strong Black women that I’ve talked to other phone that are my cousins, and we’re like a month apart, and it’s been beautiful, that sort of connection and to feel like, Man, you know, if we, if we’d been raised together, we probably would have been really close.

You know, and I feel that and they’re a lot like me and sort of their spirit and their giving us in their philosophy and that’s really kind of cool. And then you wonder about those genes and how they, you know, travel around and all that stuff. And then you know, I have a brother that’s in in Toronto area who strikes me as a very lovely, lovely man. And I’m dealing with his sort of I love you, but I’m not quite there yet. Right? Like I’m dealing with it because I think you’re lovely man, but man, that makes me feel really uncomfortable. I’ve known you for six weeks.

Patty:  There’s a real intensity, about finding, . I found my father when I was in my late 20s. You know, I came across somebody who knew him and I said, Hey, you know, you wouldn’t happen to know what happened to Roy did you?  Yeah, he’s driving cab in North Bay. I was like, Are you kidding? So I, there’s three cab companies in North Bay. So I called each of them saying that I was Vicki’s daughter. I said, Well, you know that, you know, so asking for Roy. And then one of them said, Yeah, he’s out on a call right now. So I said, Well, I’m Patty, it’s Vicki’s daughter, you know, here’s my phone number. You know, and then that’s how we reconnected I hadn’t seen him since I was like two years old.

So it’s really you know, so then I had a sister that had been adopted that he had adopted, so not, not a biological child, an adopted child. But then there’s also like, there’s cousins and aunties and all kinds of people and they all live like Winnipeg, Lac Seul, like they’re, you know, many hours away, but it’s a real intensity in those relationships and like the end then the emotions go back and forth in the way you feel one day is not the way you feel the week after and, you know, and then a year goes by, and the feelings are always all over the place because we, we don’t have shared memories. Our shared memories are disruption.

Like, in my case, my family members knew about me, they knew I existed, but they didn’t know where I was. They had no idea where I was it but we didn’t have any of these shared memories of growing up together, or, you know, the same TV shows or going someplace on Christmas, like all those memories. You know, were not the same. And, you know, so there’s this intense desire to connect, but not a lot of common ground.

Angela: Yeah,

Patty: not a lot of shared interest. Not you know, so it’s, it’s a lot more work. You know, and yeah, and they want to love you and they want to absorb you and they want to take you in but you don’t, I don’t know these people. What are you doing? You know, I’ve learned how to live this kind of solitary life. Being the only Indian and all of Ontario as far as I knew. So I’ve learned how to have this very kind of solitary, self-isolated identity as an Indigenous person. Now you’re expecting me to share it with you, I don’t even know how to do that. You know, so yeah, like, it’s, it’s just, it’s just all it’s exciting, and it’s terrifying. And the feelings change on almost an hourly basis until you it reaches some kind of equilibrium, and then something throws it up again. So it’s all It’s fun. It’s fun.

Angela:  And that’s, that’s it. That’s exactly it. And it’s interesting when you talk about, they all knew about you, but you didn’t know about them. And that was very much our experience. Like, they always knew that my twin brother and I existed.  There was attachment to them about that.  And right and, you know, but I didn’t have that attachment and Ii think that there’s an attachment and I think in some of my knowledge, my cousin’s experiences and that’s might be why I’m able to ground with them a little bit better and feel a little bit more of a realness with them not that I don’t feel that with my brother but their knowledge of me I also think created an image about me about what I might be and what I could be in their life.

It’s kind of like me wondering, you know about my birth parents and you know, they’re you know, they’re gonna come and see me one day and and I know my mother’s like a beautiful princess I know she is and you know, all those things right?

Patty: If they only knew where I where everything would be different.

Angela: Yeah, and but that’s not the case. And so for my you know, my one brother that I’ve had to say I can’t do this you’re, it’s just too intense. And you know, it’s it’s not healthy, like you can’t WhatsApp me at three o’clock in the morning and, you know, have expectations that I reach out to you like every fucking day, pardon my language like I get that you, but that’s your expectation, right? And that’s putting a lot of pressure on somebody that doesn’t know you. But so those that knowledge that I existed and their sense of shared genetics and that there’s going to be this connection is not always the case, it’s beautiful that happens, but it’s not always the case. And so, and with Dave, I’m navigating it because I do think he’s sweet.

So that’s the journey of family and new family and how you want to integrate them or don’t want to integrate them and how you move past. I think what it is a larger sense of familial obligation, and, you know, and how that is with my twin brother who, you know was so wanted to hear about the story, my experiences and what I’ve learned, but he has no interest in connecting with any of these people. And and I respect that and they’re sad about that, but it’s like, I get it. You know, his drive is not mine or mine isn’t his right. So all those navigating all those obligations and still being real and true to yourself and your well-being and I think …

You know, for me leaving Jamaica, you know, Yvonne said something. Well, Tracy says something. So do you feel like you’ve left with something? And I did. I didn’t know what I went there to get but I do know that I left with what it was I didn’t know. Yvonne said, you know, Angela, Jamaican women are strong women. And for me, it wasn’t about the strength. It was about “You’re a Jamaican woman”

Patty:  That part of the statement. Yeah.

Angela:   Wow, you’re strong and, and you can own that. And, and Gosh, like that’s, that’s something when you’re trying to recover something that you don’t even know what it is you’re recovering. And that was, you know, the most meaningful thing for me going back there.

All the experiences were lovely and beautiful, but to come back there to know, you know, to see Black kids going to school in their uniforms.  To see to be served by Black people to see the markets the you know, all of that was just, gosh, you know, it was the right time to go but there’s a part of me that wishes man I wish I had been able to do this sooner. I wonder what that would have done for my heart and moving forward because I did feel like stronger and capable, there’s a place in the world for me. I’m not separate from all these people. I’m not the only Black person even though there’s a lot of Black people around. I’m not the only Black person here. And my experience of a Black woman in this world in this country in a city is just as valid as anybody else’s. And that’s something …

Patty:  Oh, that’s someplace to leave it.

Kerry:  I was gonna say,

Patty:  there’s nothing else to say.

That’s an amazing story, Angela. It really is. It’s I can’t, I mean I can imagine in some ways because I’ve, you know, when you’ve been on the reserve, where you’ve been in the southwest and you’re surrounded by Indigenous people, it’s an amazing feeling. To not be somebody who has to be accommodated or thought of or, you know, considered in some way to just to just exist as a person in my mind. And it doesn’t happen that often. And so to have that experience is just, I’ve just so enjoyed hearing about it. I’ve just so enjoyed hearing about it.

And then to have somebody acknowledge you and see you.  Jamacian women are strong. Yeah. And she was talking about you. And to have somebody acknowledge that is just so deeply uses, especially when we grew up unmoored, to have somebody else see that and acknowledge it in almost an offhand way. Yeah, it’s so meaningful. And so grounding .

So thank you so much for sharing that. That was really I really, I love homecoming stories that was just it was just so so amazing.

Angela:   Thank you for having me on the show to be able to share that because it it is a story that I want to share greater and there’s so many other stories that have come for that but it really makes me think that with everything that’s happening in the right now, you know, I’m, I’m, I’m an activist in my own way I’m not like do go out there and protest person. That’s not always been who I am but I’m certainly a protester in, in my workplace and all those things about inclusion, you know, and, and sharing these things. So thank you for that opportunity. Because it’s, it’s, we need to we need to hear these stories. We need to humanize what is so horrible, about what’s been going on for centuries.

Patty:  Mm hmm. And those stories of strength right?. I get so tired of us being the victim all the time. We need to shift the lens on history and see it, see it for what it is. So …

Kerry:  Angela, I say the same. I drink you in I drink the story and thank you for giving us a light. And giving it some real world perspective. We’ll talk, we’ll talk

Patty: bye bye

Angela:   Bye

You can find Medicine for the Resistance on Facebook and the website http://www.med4R.com . Don’t forget to rate share and support us by buying us a coffee at https://www.ko-fi.com/medicinefortheresistance.   You can also support the podcast and so much more by going to https://www.patreon.com/PayYourRent.  You can follow Patty on Twitter @gindaanis and at http://daanis.ca   You can follow Kerry @kerryoscity  and find her online at kerrygoring.com  our theme is fearless.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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