The Frazier family: Thomas, Shelia, Tomisha, Uriel & Kourtney.

I am Black.

A major part of who I am…is a black, African-American man. My ancestors include those who were beaten down, hated, betrayed and oppressed for some 200 years. My ancestry also includes the strength, constitution, vitality and love of those who survived against all odds.

My former religion, and my upbringing (wittingly or unwittingly) minimized, neglected, ignored and effectively dishonored that history. I confess, with sadness and regret, that I have never appreciated fully that aspect of my background.

I played a role in neglecting this part of myself, I am far from innocent.

A New Path

And…I’m working on changing and rectifying that–choosing a path that honors my ancestors, my relatives, my sisters and brothers. I seek to understand and feel the weight of their trials, their pain, their tears and blood–to feel their joy and jubilation when finally…they received their freedom.

It’s been over 200 years, but the inheritance of the long-lasting effects of broken families, deprivation from community, humiliations, anger and violence…we still carry it with us in many shapes and forms. We also carry the power, the warmth and connection of bonds forged under the heat of fiery coals.

Another part of me…is my Japanese heritage. My grandmother (I recently learned) was almost killed in the bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki. Her cousin died, but she survived.

That is a separate journey, a path that I must also discover and travel down.

- Uriel