Count the Outside Children! Kinkeeping as Preservation Practice Among Descendants of Texas' Freedom Colonies
Institutional Repository Document
"To validate that a place exists or is worthy of listing as a significant cultural resource, it is the fundamental practice of planning and preservation professionals to establish measurable, documented facts: determining population levels, boundaries, building types, and recorded historic activities and events. Gwen Bluiett is a Jasper County resident who lives in a freedom colony called Magnolia Springs. Here, she leads a tour of a freedom colony known as Clear Creek Community. She is pointing to and recalling her time attending the church when it was active and the settlement was populated. White accounts of African American history are steeped in such enumerations. Whether it is the counting of African Americans by age, cotton production, spatial concentration, or slave auction block value, black use value has been incorporated into land-use practice and the countrys political economy. Before and after emancipation, racialization of landscapes has overshadowed culturally relevant kinship types and forms of land ownership. Hortense Spillers describes the ambiguity in the accounting of Africans as cargo on the way to the new world disconnected from their groups of origin, gender roles, naming conventions, or the manner in which they constructed kinship ties. Captive, enumerated black people would be bundled and stacked in ship hulls, bred in plantation cabins, then cordoned off and penned into redlined zoning districts with racial covenants. Enumeration, accounting and categorization of people and places, are agents of abstraction. Because these forms of data and associated analysis are thought to be objective, questioning their underlying assumptions is discouraged. Kinkeepers disrupt this accounting approach by articulating connections between people and place as they maintain family relationships via various activities, such as planning family rituals or reunions, coordinating family caregiving, or serving as a repository of family kinship and medical information."