Danzy Senna: “Personal History”

When Danzy Senna began reading excerpts from her newly published book Where Did You Sleep Last Night? it felt as if she were reading it to me. I was captivated at the very moment she began her reading. Where Did You Sleep Last Night? chronicles Danzy’s journey to find out about her fathers roots.  She started this journey as a way to try and begin to understand her father and his actions which took place when Danzy was very young.

Listening to Danzy speak was like hearing my inner conscience speak. During her speech she detailed how some members of her family, including her father, were not so happy about the book’s publishing. She spoke on how many people don’t like to hear the truth especially if they feel that it reflects badly on them. Members of my family, at least in my opinion, are that way as well. I consider myself to be a very honest person, but when I try to be honest many members of my family say that that did not occur that way or that I got the wrong impression.

One of the most interesting aspects of her speech was her emphasis on race. She dealt with race at a very young age of course, since she had a Caucasian mother and an African American father. But, one of the things that stuck out to me was when she brought up how even though she dealt with race as a kid it affected her the most when she finally had her own kids. She spoke about how she wanted to shield her children from the world when they were first born. She did not want them to be judged as she was. She remembered the reactions her children would get when family or friends would call or come over. They would call and say “how does he look”; in Danzy’s mind referring to the skin tone or they would see them and say “is he going to get any darker?.”


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