October 14, 2014
“The Significance of Kinship”
Early on in the summer, receiving emails about the Douglass assignments, every email sent to those of us in FAME started with something along the lines of lil sisters, home girls, young scholars, crew or folk. Upon seeing this I questioned to my sister what type of a professor referred to his students in such a way, when he did not even know me and we definitely were not even related! At the time I was not aware that you were using kinship, a term used to give a fictive connection to a group of people who may or may not be related. Kinship is a keyword that was used by many people during slavery times and still is used today when people refer to each other as “bro” or “cuz”, knowing that they are not actually brothers or cousins. I even find myself using kinship when I refer to one of my suitemates as a “triplet” to my sister along with myself. I believe that kinship is the most useful keyword among those that we have covered in the reading material in class because kinship can be used to showcase a deeper connection with someone that we care about but are not officially related to.
In the advertisements and rewards for escaped slaves the articles shown all have naming in them which is important because it shows where a person has ties and can be a way of self-expression that applies labels to a person, as the Wheatley Group pointed out. Naming takes place in the advertisements when the slave owner who places the ads refers to the slave as a Negro wench or buck. Kinship is evident in one of the very first articles that we read about escaped slaves. In the Annapolis Maryland Gazette says that two runaway slaves, Dick and Lucy, are likely to pass for man and wife. Early on in class we learned how in slavery they often separated many families or at random anyone could be sold. Although many slaves would be separated from their immediate family, through kinship they could still say