Shore to Shore: Exploring our Personal Black History



My mom is from Seychelles, a very teeny tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa where most people—including my mom—are Creole. It’s a melting pot of the descendants of African slave laborers, the French and British settlers who colonized Seychelles, and a small population of Indian and Chinese traders who immigrated there in the 19th century.  

My father is of primarily German descent—blond hair, blue eyes, whiter than white bread. Make that very conservative, right-wing political ideology white bread. Ideologies in direct opposition to my very existence. The end result? The birth of a racially ambiguous and very confused little girl trying to determine not only her place in the world, but her value within it. 

My dad didn’t always hold his current views. My parents divorced when I was six, and it wasn’t until then that his political beliefs began to shift. It started with Second Amendment rights. Anti-immigration views followed (um hello, I wouldn’t have been born otherwise?). Soon enough, his rage over “the liberals destroying Confederate monuments and eradicating an important part of our history” appeared. (Where would that have left me?) 

I’m growing up. Observing this. Internalizing it. Couple that with witnessing society never missing a chance to remind Black women—and Black girls—that they’re the most disrespected group in America. In school I would hear classmates say about a Black celebrity, “Oh, yes, she is soooooooo pretty for being a Black girl.” They didn’t even blink an eye in front of me or realize they had said anything offensive.  

In response, I tried to hide myself. Beat around the bush when someone would ask me what my ethnicity was. Feel shame for being Black.  

But at the end of the day, I would go home, and I would get see my mom. My safety. My comfort. My beautiful, strong, kind, caring, compassionate, empowering, supportive, everything-that-is-good-in-the-world mom. While society—and even someone whose duty it was to make me feel valued in the world—had made me feel shame for being Black, that shame paled in comparison to the shame I felt for not honoring the most important person in my life. When the world is telling me and all other Black women how unvalued we are, it is always my mom who reminds me otherwise.  

While the journey of straddling many identities as a multiracial person still feels complicated and isolating at times, one thing is for sure: Today, I am certainly able to celebrate the complexity and richness of my Black heritage. I’m so proud to honor my mom, my Seychellois culture, my uniqueness, and my Blackness. It’s beautiful and it’s valuable. 


Jacqueline Gellner

AVP, Marketing


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