Blood ties are really something else. I've seen it in my own life - relatives dealing me unimaginable and unjustifiable harm, but my love for them undeniably persists.
Still, I couldn't help but feel shocked and saddened when I read Strom Thurmond’s black daughter: a symbol of America’s complicated racial history in The Washington Post this morning. In it, Essie Mae Washington-Williams, Strom Thurmond's unacknowledged daughter, is quoted as having said she respected Thurmond. Hard to digest when you go on to read this quote by him:
“There’s not enough troops in the army to force the southern people to break down segregation and admit the n—– race into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes and into our churches.”And Thurmond's hatred for the black race made no exception for his own flesh and blood or the teenage girl he impregnated. Wouldn't even call the young woman by her proper name.
Obviously, Thurmond was the personification of the history of this country's confused misconception about race relations, so I'll let that speak for itself. I'm more intrigued by what in the human make-up allowed Washington-Williams to refrain from outing Thurmond by keeping her identity secret and thus seemingly betraying not only her people, but her own mother who was routinely and personally disrespected by Thurmond. I understand the danger she and her mother would have been in if she'd made this revelation in the height of the civil rights movement, but to hold onto this knowledge until Thurmond's death in 2003?
The ultimate betrayal was to herself. That's evident in the quote the article provides from Washington-Williams memoir, “In a way, my life began at 78.”
So I go back to my original question, what is it about familial connections that permits people to go on loving and sacrificing in spite of it all?