Speaker 1: 00:00 The American history. Most of us learned in school left a lot out. We learned about the contributions of some great and some not so great white men, but the life and work of women and black and Brown Americans were usually not the focus of those histories. Now, a project created by a San Diego woman is recruiting the family stories of the people who got left out of history. Our genetic legacy is combining those stories with DNA technology and an effort to help black indigenous and people of color claim their rightful place in the American story. Joining me is Shelley Baxter, she's founder and CEO of our genetic legacy. Shelly, welcome to the program. Speaker 2: 00:43 Thank you. Thank you for having me. Do you remember what Speaker 1: 00:46 Learning history was like when you went to school? Speaker 2: 00:49 Didn't like history in school. Um, it's kind of funny that I've now have a history profession, but you know, humanizing it and adding the stories to it and adding people who look like me too, that made me interested in learning more. And that's when I became interested in history. Because in school you just learned about people who you didn't feel you could relate to, or that you could, you know, look up to become because they didn't look like you now, Speaker 1: 01:17 Gendered history texts, the stories of black and indigenous people seem to begin at either enslavement or colonialism. How do you think that misrepresents their legacy? Speaker 2: 01:29 There's so much more to our legacies, that enslavement and the way the history books have recorded it and told our stories. It's like that's the beginning and the end where my existence alone shows that there was so much more the fact that these, you know, legacies have continued on despite all of the trials and tribulations and that our resilience, our strength, and, you know, our purpose is not being examined or properly told in the history books. And so this is our opportunity to own our own stories, to tell our stories in our voice. Now you're Speaker 1: 02:05 For, to document overlooked family stories is called the history makers workshop. Can you tell us about the scope of the project? Speaker 2: 02:14 So he teaches legacy tracing. Lacy tracing is the complex process by which BiPAP black indigenous and people of color have to go through in order to reclaim their loss ancestral legacy as a result of the ongoing inheritance of enslavement, because our names weren't on documents other than in wills, and sometimes in Bible records. And many of those have not survived the test of time. So we used the DNA to overcome that bridge, that gap and information in order to Tracy's ancestral legacy so that people can learn more about themselves and be able to tell their story and their voice about their ancestor, because the way that we have done it, as you said, white men have been telling our story since the beginning of time. And this is time for us to take back our voice, our stories, and to claim our place in American history. Because so often we're portrayed as the tools were not people were the tools by which, you know, America was built, but we're not the people that built America. And that's what we want to demonstrate in these history books and to provide content for curriculum. So that, that removes the excuse of you're not represented because we don't have the history books in order to teach that from. And so that's where the inspiration for the format came about because we want this to be taught to children and to appeal to all ages. Speaker 1: 03:43 Now, do people have to know a lot about their family history to take part? Speaker 2: 03:47 No, because the way the DNA works is it's a collaborative process. So you will do your DNA and then you will compare against other relatives of yours. And then you start that process of, you know, using the science to trace the lineages. And then you can have those conversations to potentially find stories and information that you personally didn't have access to because you didn't even know the names. A lot of the cases that I've dealt with deal with, you know, adoption or unknown paternity cases. And we are oftentimes able to, you know, reclaim, we're always able to reclaim the history, the full extent of the history that we're able to reclaim really depends upon the individual, but it does require this complex process. And so that's why we set up the history makers workshop in order to help people do that. Because ancestry commercials don't tell you that they just say, you know, you submit the sample and then you'll know who you are, but especially for people of color, that's just not the case. And I really want to level that playing field. Speaker 1: 04:53 Do you draw any inspiration from research into your own family's history? Speaker 2: 04:58 Absolutely. Um, I just recently found out that one of my cousins was Martin Luther King's bodyguard. I never knew that, um, I ordered a magazine that a family member told me that there was a story and he was talking about, he called Martin Luther King and Mike, like, that's my cousin. So yes, I draw a lot of inspiration from the stories that I find and the conversations that I have as a result of doing this research, Speaker 1: 05:24 The effect of this reclaimed history on individual families. How does knowing more about your own family affect, uh, a sense of connection to the larger story of America? Speaker 2: 05:36 I can say for me personally, what I have seen in my own family with my children, because this is really part of what inspired it. I wanted to give them a book and say, here's who you are. And this is just an ongoing part of that process, but I've seen how the pride that they have in their lineage and the fact that they don't get feel the restrictions that they may have once had because they're, so they're not so stuck in their own head. They can look at the stories of what other people have accomplished in their own family and to have that connection and believe that they can do more and they can do those things as well. And do you hope that Speaker 1: 06:12 Perhaps this project will result in a new way of teaching and learning about black and indigenous people of color in our history? Speaker 2: 06:20 Absolutely. Absolutely. I want for the history to be told from the perspective of the individuals who lived it. And so that means there is very, there's a lot of validity to the white male voice that history is generally told in, but it's taken up the entire genre. So now we want to add our voices to it so that we can give a more detailed and accurate representation of what life in America has been. And I'm wondering Speaker 1: 06:46 How you think this effort will open up the range of experiences and contributions made by black Brown and indigenous Americans. Speaker 2: 06:55 We conducted our beta test, um, last year of the project and we had, um, participants aged 13 to 78 and 100% of those participants became more interested in not only learning about their own history, but learning about the contributions of other BiPAP Americans. So we know that the sit, the process, the process works and how can Speaker 1: 07:15 People actually take part in this project? Speaker 2: 07:18 They can apply online for the history makers workshop, tell your American story project. There's an application process. And we will assign the legacy tracing team to those selected participants. And that book will come out in February of 2022. So that is what we are currently on registering people to apply for that process. And then we are also having other workshops and seminars for people to be able to participate and learn how to do their own legacy tracing and not just wait for the call. Okay. Speaker 1: 07:51 And I've been speaking with Shelley Baxter, she's founder and CEO of our genetic legacy, Shelley. Thanks Speaker 2: 07:57 A lot. Thank you so much.