|My father, Dorson Louis Charbonnet,|
as a young man
... the links between my grandfather, my father, and myself.
It took the long look back through these historic photographs and musing about connections; common denominators; genetic underpinnings ... and ... what holds together this entire saga of Charbonnet is that we were -- and had to be -- self-affirming.
Affirmation was withheld from both these men throughout their lives, despite their great accomplishments and years of public service. It was true for their generation, but also for all those who preceded them.
I must have -- over a lifetime -- drawn together from family stories, an understanding of what was mis-named Creole pride, but there is something in the word that hints of over-confidence, of ego-centrism. There is something far more powerful at work here, and I believe it has by now become a part of who we are as a family, as Creoles, but also as African American people. I'm not certain that our survival as a people didn't rest upon our having developed the capacity to see beyond the unmitigated brutality of slavery, Jim Crow, and, subsequently, continuing societal rejection, to a place deep inside ourselves that sang its own songs of freedom and justice.
Self-affirmation is clearly evident in my writings. Upon maturing, I've rarely needed validation from outside myself. I do not believe that my proud grandfather could have accomplished the greatness that he achieved had he waited for that to be bestowed from beyond himself. It mattered not whose names were painted on the signs under which he built his projects. That he built them was apparently all that mattered. He knew!
Is it really that simple?
Probably not, but for tonight, I'll take it.