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On Mourning

On Mourning

By Talia Floyd

Do you mourn your ancestors? No really, I’m curious. Do you mourn? Some of us mourn for our ancestors. We miss a connection to a home, a place with languages and cultures and distinction. I mourn for my ancestors who died in raids, died as they were abducted, died in filth in what amounts to the basement of a ship, drowned in the ocean, swallowed up by the sea, died of exhaustion, died of malnutrition, died from torture, killed themselves rather than live enslaved.
I mourn for the ones who died of some terrible combination. I mourn those who were raped to death, for those who withered away. For those whose souls made an early exit and left a husk. Those who were beaten to death although doesn’t that fall into torture? But then wasn’t it all torture?

I mourn for those who created, who danced, who sang, who painted, who drew, who spoke, who whispered. Those who planned, who wrote, who read, who told our stories, who passed down our history, who cooked our culture into being, who stitched our fragmented ethnicities into something called African American, who quilted our path to freedom, I mourn for my ancestors Those who ran and came as close to escape, those who carved something like freedom out of this carcass of a country, I mourn for my ancestors.

Did anyone survive? We’re still alive so I guess that counts. How do we define survival? Living through it; the trauma goes through you and leaves holes. I wonder what they wished for. Were people like me the end goal? Built out of trauma on trauma, the medical science that allowed my birth (in vitro). Oh, the immortal cells of Henrietta Lacks, I mourn for my ancestors.

Did they know if the what the future will hold? Did they foresee their great grand children being shot in the streets by the cops? I mourn for my ancestors. What about the privilege of living in excess, having more than we could ever use or want and? I mourn for my ancestors.

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