Last Thursday I appeared on Leonard Lopate’s show to discuss ancestry and my Harper’s piece, and he told me (both on and off the air) a little bit about his own family. Friday I was part of the very last night of luxlotus' Cafe Society, and Peter Von Ziegesar unsheathed this sword which had belonged to his ancestor and was sent to him by a stranger. Saturday morning I awoke to Nicole Rudick’s praise, and some of her own Texan family lore, at the Paris Review Daily.
One of the best parts about the excitement of the last few weeks has been hearing other people’s juicy family stories, and now that I’m writing the book I have good reason to seek out even more. If you also have tales to tell, get in touch here, or email me at begatsy at gmail. I’m particularly interested in the ways we look for echoes down through the generations.
(Photo credit: Kirsten Major.)
The Dallas Morning News (whose archives have corroborated family legends of shootings, killings, socialists, and so much more!) runs a partial transcript of my segment from the local NPR affiliate’s Think program about my Harper’s essay on ancestry.
I, too, find it really exciting — finally realizing how we’re all related to one another, finally recognizing that humankind is a brotherhood and sisterhood that can’t be denied.
But there’s a history in the world and even in this country of some pretty terrifying eugenics programs. There were mandatory sterilization laws for “mental defectives,” which was a pretty broad and nebulous category at the beginning of the last century. And, of course, we all know about the Holocaust, which is the ultimate symbol of what can go wrong when this kind of information becomes available and people can classify and categorize and come up with ideas that certain people are less valuable than others.
(Photo of my essay from alexanderchee.)