Should We Expose Our Family Secrets?
Secrets are something that Black families are all too familiar with. The kind of secrets that are so painful and those that people often feel shame about that they would rather go to their grave than risk someone finding out about them.
Can I be honest? Even though I understand why some people may choose to do this, I hate it. I hate it because these webs of secrets often leave the next generation searching for answers. For a lot of middle class African American families, those secrets represent a past they’ve worked hard to overcome, so why talk about it? I, for one, believe that exposing and discussing these often painful memories can provide a pathway to healing and understanding. Think of it as a session with Iyanla but a lot less dramatic and a lot more healing.
If you’ve been keeping up with the latest season of “Queen Sugar,” then you know that Nova is public enemy number one right now in the Bordelon family. Not only did sis expose her family dirt, but she did so in a published book for the whole world to read. When I say we should expose our family secrets, I don’t mean in such a public display. While I understand Nova’s motive for doing this, it doesn’t give her the right to discuss her family business for profits especially without talking to them about it first. This book has the potential to damage all of her personal relationships and create a rift that that can’t be repaired. Will exposing the dirt heal the family in the long run? Yes. Will Nova ever have the same relationship with her family again? No, but that’s the risk she chose to take when she wrote this book.
I know African Americans families aren’t the only families that choose to sell their secrets. When it comes to Black families though, our good name and reputation mean everything in our community. Your last name is often how you identity and if you’re family has been around for years, people know exactly how to treat you. The Bordelon’s are a perfect example of this. Their family is a staple in the community and known for their sugar cane farm. While their family issues were known, they certainly weren’t broadcasting them to the world or discussing them openly. Years of hard work and trying to hold the family together are now tainted by one book.
Death and the holidays are usually what bring a family together and in the case of the Bordelon’s, the death of their father is what opened their box of family secrets. In my opinion, Nova, Charley, and Ralph Angel were already on the path to healing from their past and would have done just fine without Nova writing her book. There’s nothing worse than trying to fix relationships and suddenly having the world invited into your family business to sit back and judge you for your past mistakes.
I really hope this stigma of keeping family secrets fades away from the Black family. It does nothing but keep us from healing and forgiving. People talk about millenials, but one thing we have mastered is going to therapy and that’s something the the Black family could really use.