Reflecting on Heritage: Understanding the Complexity of Ancestry and Slavery

In a deeply personal and thought-provoking essay featured in Desert Companion, the author delves into their complex heritage, unveiling the intertwined narratives of ancestry, slavery, and the importance of honest historical education. The piece, titled “Heritage Project,” offers a poignant exploration of the author’s familial roots and the broader implications of America’s troubled history with slavery.

A Personal Journey Through History

The author recounts a school assignment centered around heritage, which led them to uncover significant and unsettling aspects of their family’s past. They discovered that a substantial portion of their ancestors were enslaved, revealing a profound connection to America’s legacy of slavery. This revelation was compounded by their mother’s DNA test results, showing a high percentage of white ancestry, which brought feelings of discomfort and introspection.

Balancing Mixed Ancestry

The essay highlights the dual nature of the author’s heritage—a blend of Black and white ancestry. This mix not only reflects the complex racial dynamics of America’s past but also underscores the personal struggles and identity challenges faced by individuals with such backgrounds. The author’s family roots in Virginia add another layer of depth, with speculative ties to historical figures like Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson, further complicating their understanding of self and heritage.

Critical Race Theory and Education

A crucial part of the narrative addresses current societal issues, particularly the debates surrounding Critical Race Theory (CRT) and how history is taught in schools. The author references incidents where CRT has been criticized and lawsuits filed against educational institutions for their approach to teaching racism. These points underscore the ongoing controversy about how America’s history, especially regarding race and slavery, should be approached and taught.

Emphasizing Honesty and Confrontation

Central to the essay is the author’s call for honesty and confrontation when dealing with America’s history of slavery. They stress the need for truthful education and open discussions about race to foster understanding and healing. The essay serves as a reminder that acknowledging the painful aspects of history is essential for progress and reconciliation.


The “Heritage Project” essay is a powerful testament to the complexities of ancestry and the importance of confronting historical truths. It provides a deeply personal perspective on how the legacies of slavery continue to influence present-day identities and the vital role of education in addressing these issues. By sharing their story, the author invites readers to reflect on their own heritage and the collective history that shapes our society.

For more details on this compelling narrative, you can read the full essay on Desert Companion.





dabodab is a blog about various things DiY and the creative people and activities surrounding them. I am Briyan Frederick (aka Bryan Baker), probably best known as the publisher of GAJOOB and a founder of Tapegerm Collective read more.


i was trying to present it as layers of skin being peeled away to get to the next section, with the glockenspiel over bryan’s piano loop, which was like the true inner self. and i kept thinking about michael jackson throughout the whole process.Jack Shite