By Carolyn Neuhausen
FROM: The Argonaut
Loyola Marymount University writing instructor and rhetorical arts fellow Shonda Buchanan understands how abuse and self-hatred — the kind that ripples through families for generations — can set the tone for interpersonal relationships for decades, if not centuries.
In her new memoir “Black Indian,” Buchanan tells the story of her family’s African-American, American Indian and European heritage, tracing their migration from the Carolinas to Michigan, where they often faces the question “What are you?” in a world that could only separate Americans into white or black.
There’s her grandfather Clifford, who drank away most of his family’s weeping willow-framed 100-acre farm and violently doled out his misery upon his children. In her writing, Buchanan seeks to better understand her mother, Clifford’s daughter Velma Jean, whose motherhood she experienced as a mixture of abuse and love wrapped in hard edges.
Buchanan finds a consistent pattern of violence, addiction and poverty running through the generations of her family, which she comes to understand as an inheritance of historical tragedy, subjugation and disenfranchisement of people of color throughout American history. “Black Indian” takes us back to times long ago — and not so long ago — when social norms of racial segregation and toxic male privilege compounded into a catalyst for physical and psychological abuse wrapped in a culture of silence. Read Rest of Interview Here