It’s a programme that I get to see only rarely, probably due to the time that it’s screened, but it is one that, when given the chance, I would watch. Each programme features a person looking into their family’s past with the help of experts. It’s easy to be cynical, take a celebrity, place them at a site of a hitherto unknown family tragedy or grinding poverty and watch as the eyes fill with tears, TV gold. Well I believe there is more to it than that and it is fascinating just how many families have incredible stories and many of them are genuinely moving.
I have an interest in this field as my own father has spent a great deal of time tracing our own family history with great success. He has been interviewed on the radio a couple of times telling our own family story. In short he has proved that his maternal grandmother was descended from an aristocratic family and since the aristocrats married within their own class, it’s then possible to prove a relationship with many other noble lines. He tells me that we had a number of ancestors killed in the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 and that there is one line that is traced back into bible characters and concludes with “Adam, son of God!”
It is important to know our history and to know who we are and how it was that we ended up here. We can learn from the mistakes of the past and history should give us a foundation from which to move forward. We in Wales we are very much moulded by our history. In 1977 the captain of the Welsh Rugby team, Phil Bennett gave a stirring pre-game pep talk just before facing England that included;
“Look what these (naughty word that questions a person’s parentage) have done to Wales. They’ve taken our coal, our water, our steel. They buy our homes and live in them for a fortnight every year. What have they given us? Absolutely nothing. We’ve been exploited, raped, controlled and punished by the English — and that’s who you are playing this afternoon.”
What we are considering here is the question of identity, who we are, and this has been on my mind since I heard the recent comments of Halle Berry with regard to her two year old daughter. To fill in some blanks, Halle Berry is the daughter of a white mother and a black father and she involved in a bitter custody battle with Gabriel Aubry over their daughter Nahla. In an interview with Ebony magazine, she raised the question of race and the prospect of Nahla being brought up by Aubry, who is white. She stated; “I feel she’s black. I’m black and I’m her mother, and I believe in the one-drop theory,” The One- drop rule, is a term used to cover a number of laws from the early 20th century in the US used to discriminate against black people. If you had one drop of ‘black blood’ you were excluded from certain roles and benefits in society even if you looked white. Now we have a woman who regards herself as black, saying that it’s true, even a small percentage of ‘black blood’ is enough to potentially make you black. It’s a remarkable turnaround from the so-called rule being used as a means of exclusion to the same rule now being used to include someone.
Halle Berry is of course rightly proud of her black heritage and understandably wants to pass it on to her daughter and for them to share that identity. I see plenty of Welsh people incredibly proud of their Welsh identity yet English people who look totally bemused when faced with Welsh patriotism as if they cannot understand it at all.
As a Christian, it is important that we ask ourselves who we are and challenge our own notions of identity. If when we think of this question we answer with I’m the Pastor, elder, youth leader, Sunday school teacher, treasurer, lead this or that or play this or that musical instrument, then we haven’t quite seen the truth. As usual, Paul sums it up; “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) Our identity is found in Christ, not in the things that we do. It surpasses barriers race, class and gender. So go on ask yourself, ‘who do you think you are?’
If you’re not sure please make contact through the comments section or speak to a Christian on this subject, I’m sure they would be delighted to help you as Christ is certainly calling you to put things right.
If you are a Christian, why not meditate on Galatians 3:28 and maybe Ephesians 1 & 2 and then know, you are in Christ, there is nothing to prove, Jesus has already done it all. Hallelujah!