Homegoing: Returnment to the Roots

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Have you ever been affected by something and wonder why this such thing had a drastic impact? Well someone once said, “ Life is suffering.” And once you understand that quote you’ll be able to interpret life in away that help you to cope better to avoid passing down trauma. Intergenerational trauma is the transmission of historical oppression and its negative consequences across generations. This trauma can be seen in three very different text previously read. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi, can be defined as going back to your respected roots when your in loss of hope and need that sense of wisdom, which leads you returning home. Between the World and Me, by Ta Nehisi Coates, is defined as a letter to his son speaking on concepts such as possession of bodies, banality of violence, and justice system. And last but not least, Everyday Use, byAlice Walker, addresses a key concept of light skin vs brown skin and the privilege behind skin complexion: following that we see symbols that convey a message of hidden identity. These three texts converys in many ways that (inter)generational trauma is caused within family history, social injustices, and genealogy. I believe these texts reconceptualized (inter)generational trauma and its long term effect on one’s life in the real world. It’s very imperative for us to pay close attention to how these individual authors address (inter)generational trauma because they talk from different stand points with a commonality of ache. This protrudes out showing hope even through the vast amount of suffering in these authors text.

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Intergenerational trauma is reiterated in Between the World and Me by Tanehisi Coates, addresses the key concept on possession of “bodies” . There is a constant fear of losing your body to the streets or to the works of police officers. Coates’ explains that, because there is a constant fear amongst the black community, it has become custom for black people to desire to possess their bodies and feel that they are in control of something, which in this case is exemplified through music. Coates writes in his letter, “I heard the fear in the first music I ever knew, the music that pumped from boom boxes full of grand boast and bluster.” This concept is meaningful or otherwise significant because it’s a prime example of how black people skin complexion is seen as a threat and they fear the consequences that follow with their bodies.

Another example that shows were intergenerational trauma extends from is the injustices within systems. Coates writes, “And you know now, if you did not before, that the police department of your country has been endowed with the authority to destroy your body.” Coates is bringing to the reader’s attention to how the system is rigged against African-Americans. The justice system is not in favor of us, and is ultimately working against us to destroy our “bodies”. This answers the question of whether or not political systems affect cultures. And Coats speaks amongst the inequality in systems and its long term effect on our people, which can be traumatizing.

Next, Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi shows the returnment of a young lady back to her roots, where she learns first hand. The text states, “In the corner, a woman was crying so hard that it seemed her bones would break from her convulsions.” This plays imperative in Esi’s story because being in the dungeon everyday she will witness so much, watching slaves get abused and family getting separated from each other is just sad and sick to watch. Women are treated like animals and not being treated with the basic needs like full meals or even getting a chance to use the bathroom. No one is allowed to go outside the dungeon. Women are being sexually harassed by the soldiers and the other females have sat there in quiet so it won’t happen to them which is outrageous in my personal beliefs. This is an imperative example because it explains how experiences first hand can take a toll on a person and negatively affect them mentally.

Another example that shows how prevalent ancestral slavery was impacted by their own people is in Esi chapter. Yaa Gyasi writes, “Today their enemies pay more, Fiifi, he said. Tomorrow if they pay more, we will work with them too. This is how you build a village.” This clearly shows how everyday Esi sees more and more women entering the cargo and knows that this is how the white men are building their village. Significantly, it highlights the dehumanization of the villages own people, such as Fiifi who understands that the chief is selling his own people from the towns for a higher price. This can be connected to intergenerational trauma because Esi is encountering traumatizing events that can possibly affect her outlook on her cultural and her behavior after seeing the poor treatment of women.

Next, Everyday Use, by Alice Walker shows skin complexion can be an affect on how people view themselves. The text states, “Dee is lighter than Maggie, with nicer hair and a fuller figure.” Here the author included this to show the symbolism behind Dee’s skin, which can be connected to how Maggie feels ashamed of her skin and that can be traumatizing to her future. Dee complexion is how she’s accepted in society compared to Magie, who is darkskin and has to deal with adversity bring against her or not as receptive to her. Dee has an advantage over maggie, which is receiving more opportunities in the world due to skin tone. This is a factor that should be paid attention to because it says something about this character self esteem, insecurity, and outlook in life. And these are all points that can be intertwined with how intergenerational extends from the home of where kids are born with differences such as skin tone and hair textures. The intergenerational trauma begins the moment the mom of the household separates the two girls based on who she thinks society is going to accept, which is the lightskin one with long hair and pretty eyes.Another example that shows escaping identity is the sunglasses. The writer writes, “Your heritage….She put on some sunglasses that hid everything above the tip of her nose and chin.” This explains that Dee wants to hide who she is and present herself with a new cultural identity of Africa. This circles back to the reading where there’s a quilt that speaks volume to heritage and this can be seen as an intergenerational tradition within this text. 

The quilt is a tradition that has been passed down generations to other African American women, who value rituals. But Dee putting on sunglasses has left me to infer that she is ready for a personal change cultural wise.         

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