“I’m 53 years old, and that’s all I’ve ever been raised as: black,” Shreck says. “So if you’re taught that from when I’m old enough to understand, up to when you’re a grown woman, then [it’s] born and bred in you and you’re automatically black.”
As first reported in State of the Re:Union, most of Shreck’s generation and the generations before her here in East Jackson, on the edge of Appalachian Ohio, were raised to believe they are black. Never mind that they might register to most as white by appearance, or that there is hardly a trace of black ancestry left in their blood. This inherited identity most East Jackson residents still cling to and fiercely protect is based on where they were born and who they were told they are. It comes from a history rooted in racism and an identity placed upon their ancestors – and now many of them – without their consent.