Acknowledging Wrongs of Enslaver Ancestors

Image reads: My father's family kept slaves - and he defended it. Acknowledging it matters. Byline reads Maud Newton. Illustration by artist Jon Key depicts confederate monuments on a blood red background.

The Guardian U.S. has published my argument for what I’ve called acknowledgment genealogy, the importance of reckoning with our individual families’ participation in slavery. “Amid a rise of laws forbidding discussions of racist histories, sharing our ancestors’ shameful wrongdoings is more urgent than ever” is the subhead. Acknowledgement is a crucial first baby step toward the repair we need.

The illustration above was created for the piece by the artist Jon Key. I’m grateful to the Guardian for pairing my words with Key’s tremendous art—and to editor Jessica Reed for giving me space to expand on an argument I first made in my newsletter last year. I’m committed to this acknowledgement, as a first and continuing step toward reckoning and reparation(s).


Newsletter Signup

Subscribe to my free newsletter, Ancestor Trouble.


You might want to subscribe to my free Substack newsletter, Ancestor Trouble, if the name makes intuitive sense to you.