To return to the Home of my ancestors by obtaining land in Georgia, USA for the purposes of farming, land regeneration, building community with Black and Indigenous earth workers.
When I was a child, and well into my early adulthood, many of my stories began with not knowing where I was from or who I was. Having been a black child adopted by a white family at birth, I knew exactly what a sore thumb felt like - as much as I stood out, I was constantly trying to make myself smaller/less visible, and have my otherness be less audible. I had been raised on the concrete side of the road in the suburbs, with big hair and legs that ran before they could walk, urgently looking for space where my Black, queer, genderless, spiritual self could not only feel safe but flourish.
It took a long time running.
My life changed when I turned 19 - I had found courage. I was able to find my birth father's name through a Google search. He was in the US Marines and his information was readily available online. I sent him an email to tell him who I was and that he had a child - and to my surprise, he wrote back. At that moment reading his email it felt like my own voice, a story in which I shared. In 2010 we met each other for the first time and since then we have been vibrantly in each other's lives. This was when I found my space.
In 2014 I wrote, directed, and performed “I Was Born White” at the Toronto Fringe Festival, a dance performance based around the beginnings of really processing what the impact of being uprooted had in my life, and those around me. The audio for the performance included interviews and phone conversations with both of my families. It truly gave me the space to be vulnerable in a way that brought me closer to myself. It received the People's Choice Award.
In 2018 I received a grant from the Regent Park Film Festival: Home Made Visible project, to travel to Georgia to meet my father’s family for the first time. It was a Reunion. I created a 10 piece archive of paintings as large as 6ft, and a sensory experience installation in hopes it would also bring people Home. All of these pieces are intended as gifts for my family.
Much of my life has been that of a spider, spinning the stories of myself into a web that is intricate enough to hold me. Now that I am here I do not feel so heavy. I am blessed to have a history. I am blessed to know my ancestors. And now we can finally see ahead and know what it is to be so sure of a future that it is welcoming me with wide-open arms.
Help me in 2020 celebrate a decade of return - by continuing this calling back to the work of my ancestors, and returning to Georgia, USA to continue land stewardship and the regeneration of both community and land.
Land Work and Self-Determination
I have been farming for 3 years now, having first put my hands in the earth of a medicine garden named Mashkikii’aki;ing “medicine earth”, coming into relationship with plant medicines and a deep love of mushrooms and land regeneration. Over these years, and through activism and community building, I have grown to understand that our collective wellness is essential and that I must continue this web for myself towards not only self-determination but the determination and sovereignty of all Black and Indigenous peoples.
At least seven generations of my family on my birth father's side are from northern Georgia/South Carolina. They were the holders of the Black community they were a part of, and they were earth workers by both force and by freedom. They are deeply my people, and that land is deeply my place.
It is my dream to be able to live a decade of farming. 10 years of land and river regeneration. 10 years of relationship with my Tsalagi people. 10 years of hearing and sharing new stories with my Black Indigenous family. Just 10 years. One decade of living this dream that when I was born was unimaginable. That when I was 19 was inconceivable. That this is the form that my freedom has shown me, by any means necessary.
Use of Funds
The funds obtained through Go Fund Me will go towards obtaining land in Georgia, USA for the purposes of land regeneration, building community with Black farmers, and to understand the needs of the land acquired. I intend to build a land trust alongside Black and Indigenous communities so that we may protect the lands we can take back from the state.
I need to create with my partner, a future that I could not have even imagined in my past. I need to have these last few years with the elders that hold these stories and knowledge. I want to be able to have a Reunion in a place I call home, to feed my family and community food that we have grown, to laugh and to sigh and to cry at the state of the world, but be blessed with a decade of the unthinkable. Liberation. Self-determination. And the land that is healing, and free.
Black people have been fighting for liberation for as long as we have been on these lands. Indigenous peoples have been fighting for sovereignty from the moment war and colonialism was violently brought upon these shores. It is time for each of us to not have to fight for the means to survive or exist. It is time.
Your support of any amount truly goes the longest way. The support I’m able to acquire here allows me to reach Home and Reunion sooner, and I am deeply grateful that you’ve taken the time to read my story! I hope that in these times you, your loved ones, and your community are taking care of yourselves and each other. Thank you for supporting this dream of mine, there’s no other future I could imagine.
- Chelsea Atkins-Macchione
- Victoria Alarcon
- Rowan Manker