In recent years, interest in family history research/ genealogy has surged among many people of color, especially among African-Americans. The sudden interest in researching one’s ancestry stems from the curiosity of where one’s origins lay, as well as the growing number of resources with which to research.
A desire to research can stem from the uncertainty one experiences when asked what are you, where are you from, where is your family from, what’s your ethnicity? Some cannot give a direct answer. Why? Some have not asked their family members about their ancestry, perhaps never given it any thought. If they have, they might not have the full picture of where their people came from, even with the information their family has given them. Some may look up vital records (census, birth, death, marriage) in and around the place some of their ancestors lived. If they’re lucky, people may be able to visit some extended family members and ask more questions. This can all lead to a broader, clearer picture of one’s ancestry.
However, POC can run into issues while tracing back their heritage. Oral histories were destroyed or lost, and are therefore not available to present day descendants. If written records were kept, vital ones could be hard to find. If not altogether missing, then these records simply were not kept and do not exist.
If not for those reasons, then another may be that the person (or people) you’re looking for may have different aliases. I have run into this problem while I was researching. This is one big disadvantage to POC, especially Afro-descendants when they’ve been able to reach the days of slavery via census records. These missing record(s) can put the research to a screeching halt. You’ve hit a wall. Non-POC, typically, do not have this issue.
What to do when this happens will be discussed in a future post.
Non-POC, however, do not usually have this issue. Those with primarily European ancestry seem to have it easier in terms of researching. Some may even have luck in tracing back their roots to pre-colonial times.