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My explorations at this time are thus narrowed to my maternal side, which is a little easier to trace.This choice is both a matter of convenience but also a function of having spent a great deal of my childhood with “Pop” – my beloved maternal grandfather.I have recently begun situating my family in social and historical context by having a series of conversations with my grandfather about race.

More recently, when hurricane Hermine was on track to hit Florida in the fall of 2016, I remember my stunned reaction to Pop’s decision to remain put, even after authorities declared mandatory evacuation.Watching him stand over the hood of my car was like watching a magician: Electric sparks came and went on command, and otherwise dead components under the hood came to life with Pop’s bare hands.You never quite knew how he made it all happen, you just knew that he did. The army would make good use of his skills for six years, where he worked for the missile outfit and repaired military vehicles.Like Jessica—the white teacher at the heart of Sleeter’s novel “White Bread"—my knowledge of my family stops with my grandparents and some scattered details about a few great grandparents.The paternal side of my family tree is staggeringly complicated: Because my father never knew his father, and his mother never knew her father (these marriages did not exist, and children were born out of wedlock), surnames and countries of origin—in most cases—are simply not known.

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