Aaron VanBuren                   1/13/12

The history of the language in the Present

“Quan, Come here”

“Here I come, Popup”

“Pick that up”

“Okay, wait what is this?”

What I saw was a book with the cover reading “The Brooks Family Heritage”. I started to flip through the book looking for pictures, as a little kid would do. I saw my relatives dressed in business suits and nice clothes. I came to the thought that my relatives weren’t slaves, so I asked and found out that my family were free Africans when they came to America. I started to wonder what did they do when they came to America and how did they get free? My grandfather and his sisters and brothers all had nice houses and were wealth, when my grandfather got sick I came over his house all the time to help out and I learned a lot of how to build and fix a house, learned how cook and also how to flirt with girls.


A couple years earlier when my grandmother alive, my mom, dad, sister and I visited her and my great-grandmother in Virginia.  It was like we were going through a jungle going to see my family in Heathsville. We came to a road named Brooks and I asked “Mommy is that street named after Grandfather’s family?”

“She said yes and she said do you see that old house right there?”


“Well that house belongs to our family”


“We ring the doorbell”

“Who is it?”

“Hey Mama Daye, Its Tannie and the family”

“Hey baby’s come on in”

“Mama Daye what is that smell?

“Its fish, eggs, pork chops”


“Mama Daye where did you learn how to cook like that?”

“There is a long line of skills passed through our family and cooking is one.”

Thinking back to the book I found back in Philadelphia at my Grandfather’s house, I thought this was different because my Great Grandfather on my mother’s side was Native America and Irish. My Great Grandmother are African American and Italian. The thought of my family never being slaves on my mother side was shocking because I thought everyone was slaves, Not being slaves, my family had opportunities to do more as free Africans who adapted into African Americans. One thing that came from not being slaves was education that led to wealth with in my family. From the wealth my family has or had I was taught how to invest, how to be a salesman and how to build a house and how to reconstruct a house.


Visiting my father’s side of the family and knowing where they are from, they are from an area where slavery was high in numbers. I was curious what roots ran through my father’s side and I found out that there is some Polish but mostly African American descent. I know I have similarities as my dad but not a lot. He is a hard worker and he can fix anything given to him. I think that’s where the roots of slavery fall into play.


I have seen how being a different descent or race can cause problems. People look at me differently because of my skin color, which is black. Although, within my bloodline I have Native American, Polish, Italian, Irish and African American mixed to form who I am today. “It goes without saying, then, that language is also a political instrument, means, and proof of power. It is the most vivid and crucial key to identify: It reveals the private identity, and connects one with, or divorces one from, the large, public, or communal identity.” My language is set up from my ancestors who went through hard times and made the best of them. My history defines my language. When I think about how differently I get treated I think about how worst some else has it and deal with the situation at hand. If my history is speaking then it is speaking through experience that will help form the next generation of my family and prepared them for all the drama and life loving experiences.


My history defines my language because over the years my language of being simple and needy has evolved into me being a definition of my heritage and the future legacy of the Brooks and VanBuren Family.  The roots of my Native American, Polish, Italian, Irish and African American ancestors show through the way I learn about new things and or just learning new things about my family and how I teach people about who I am as a person and how my history defines my language. Overall the language of my ancestors is my history of my language, which my language is define by my history in the present and past.

Comments (1)

Victoria Odom (Student 2014)
Victoria Odom

I liked your essay and how you introduced a little about your family before you talked about language, but I wonder if you could of talked more about language and how you talked compared to your family.