Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots

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As more Americans develop a heightened interest in genealogy and ancestry, Morgan Jerkins’ latest release may inspire others to go beyond the cursory DNA service. The complexity of Black identity takes center stage in Wandering in Strange Lands: A Daughter of the Great Migration Reclaims Her Roots. This book may serve as a guide for urbanized Black Americans seeking to align their Northern family backgrounds with their long-abandoned Southern roots. It’s a heartening read for anyone who is on the path to uncovering buried stories of the past.

Born and raised in New Jersey, Jerkins travels to her family’s ancestral homes in Georgia, South Carolina, and Louisiana, talking to residents and gathering oral history, as she embarks on a very personal journey toward a more complete understanding of her people’s history. Jerkins invites us to witness deep introspection in interrogating the meaning of Blackness, how identity is both systemic and personal. At times, the book reads like an instructional volume dedicated to culturally competent anthropological fieldwork.

Jerkins describes her efforts to ensure that she’s entering and engaging communities with respect and reverence. She demystifies spiritual beliefs in magic, “roots,” and age-old sources of certain superstitions. There were constant reminders of how Black people nurtured collective resistance by building community and cultivating joy despite oppression, disenfranchisement, and prejudice. Most of the time, the book evokes the weight of intergenerational trauma, as Jerkins wrestles with uncomfortable truths about racial stratification in an America mired in the legacy of White supremacy.

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Author Morgan Jerkins
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 304 pages
Publisher Harper
Publish Date 2020-Aug-11
ISBN 9780062873040 Buy this Book
Issue December 2020
Category History