In Search of an Afro-American Enslaved Family in the Heart of the Caribbean
After ten years of searching for official records, delving into the few written resources and speaking to witnesses and descendants, anthropologist Roline Redmond tells the story, spanning two centuries, of her enslaved family.
In her search for answers, she considers herself a contemporary griot, a West African chronicler of family history: Who were her ancestors, what was their daily life like? How was colonial oppression passed down from generation to generation?
The Doorsons lived in freedom from 1873, but in great poverty. They were able to work their way up thanks to their enormous willpower and perseverance, often driven by women, protecting their offspring and using ancient rituals to heal the inherited pain of loss and longing.
Three women are central to this survival story: Redmond’s great-grandmother, a market vendor, her grandmother, a laundress (‘Back always bent, hands wrinkled from the water, face covered in droplets.’), and her daughter – Redmond’s mother – a seamstress. Though strong and independent, these generations of matriarchs exuded an air of loss, and a longing for connection with kin, both living and dead.