No family is perfect. I pretended mine was until we congregated for a family reunion last weekend. If you have ever been to a family reunion with Black folks its always equipped with good food and premium booze. Families can be funny, your time together can be as joyful as winning the lottery, or as painful as losing a limb. My tumultuous experience this weekend was thought-provoking and aroused my curiosity about family secrets.
Family secrets, we all have them. You know those family matters you sweep under the rug that deteriorated and became a skeleton in your closet. Considering I’m one of the youngest members of my family, I’m not always privy to the generational skeletons but, I’m generally at the forefront when said skeletons awake from their somber slumber.
Recently, Netflicks premiered a documentary titled Little White Lie. It told the story of a Jewish girl who had unintentionally been “passing” her entire life. Now this girl looked Black, Stevie Wonder could tell she was Black. It’s hard to disguise Black skin, especially when you’re the only one in your family and community whose melanin is on fleek.
No one in this girl’s family mentioned the elephant every time she was in the room? It gets worse,the Black biological father was a family friend! He would come and have dinner with the family, no one spoke on their similar features, not even the father that raised her. Appalled, I called my grandmother.
Me: Gram, I just saw this documentary about a young woman who was raised white, but she was clearly black, but her family never told her or acknowledged it.
Me: This girl thought she was white. It was the craziest thing I ever heard of that her mother kept this secret from her. So no one in her family questioned how two white parents could produce a Black child? Isn’t this the craziest thing you ever heard of, can you believe it?
Gram: Yes Keydra, I can, it happens every day families have secrets.
As a millennial, we’ve been conditioned to let it all hang out. We tell our business on social media, and we stage family interventions on reality shows. These ideas make my grandmother and her peers cringe, but if we all have family secrets and if the pot will bubble over anyway, why hide them?
I’m against spreading all your business for the world to see, but I do think it is healthy to discuss conflict. I guess back in the good ol’ days families especially minority families had other objectives in life. Expressing feelings were a luxury and staying alive and keeping roofs over children head’s was the priority.
What is done in the dark always comes to light. While the premise of a secret may be to protect and avoid controversy the result is always contrary. I’m hip to the theory some things are better left unsaid, but every action has a reaction. If a secret has the potential to lead to the demise of a family then I have to disagree and suggest the issue be dealt with head on. But for a generation who is accustomed to maintaining family secrets, letting go of past habits just aren’t that easy.
Me: Gram do we have any family secrets I should know about ?
Me: If we DID have any family secrets, would you tell me?