Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Success: Charissa Joy Los

Genealogy Roadshow is a great show by PBS, based off of the Antiques Roadshow format. Participants contribute their research questions, and professional genealogists provide them with answers.

This was the experience of one young researcher, Charissa Joy Los. Born to an African-American father and a white American mother, she was adopted to a new family of white parents. Being biracial in an adopted family, it's easy to see how Charissa would turn to genealogy to find her place within both of her families.

Photo from The Detroit News, credit to Marvin Shaouni

I loved watching her story because she understands so clearly that a piece of her story is missing. She genuinely wants to have the African-American part of her heritage to play a role in her life. She discovers the truth about her ancestors moving to Detroit as part of the Great Migration. You can see how she and her birth father both gain a new sense of self from that knowledge, a deeper connection to each other and their past. The fact that the researcher assisting her is African-American makes the discovery even more meaningful and interesting, in my opinion.

Because I have been discovering my own Black Canadian and Caribbean Canadian heritage in Nova Scotia, I can understand Charissa's desire to understand her relationship to her own race. The same way that she felt more complete as a person with her new discoveries, I feel the same way about my grandmother's family as I continue to discover it. You can read all about those discoveries of mine for Muriel Ince Michaels on my personal blog, Of Trees & Ink.

To watch the episode, visit the site for Genealogy Roadshow and click on the episode for Detroit!