After the good response I got to my talk on Saturday, I wrote up some of my findings on the Rogans for Pith, leaving out the parts that would specifically point to places I thought Bud Rogan might be, because, like I said in my presentation, I’m curious, but if the Rogans went to these lengths to keep white curiosity-seekers from bothering Bud, then I feel obliged to respect that at some level. I mean, I’m still curious, but I’m not going to make it too easy for nefarious people to start digging.
And anyway, as you all know, in my digging, I became as fascinated by this large extended family who found a way to take care of each other under extraordinary pressures designed to break them apart.
So, the post went up and yesterday a Rogan contacted me! I went digging through his Facebook stuff and I know you can’t say for sure, because the human mind finds patterns where there aren’t any, but I thought some of the living Rogans still resembled Bud. And I laughed to find that they are still very religious.
I mean, really, it’s not been that long. My grandma’s birthday was yesterday. She turned 96. Two of her grandparents were born before the Civil War. Of course behavioral patterns deeply ingrained in your family, especially through trauma, can persist.
But I think it still surprises me because, much like discovering that old wooden church in the cemetery, it moves facts from something you’ve been reading up on to something real in the world. “The Rogans’ faith was important to them” as a fact you can use to track them down in cemeteries and “The Rogans’ faith is important to them” as a fact you can see in a person…well, they are the same thing, but they don’t feel like the same thing.
I do this history stuff for me, because I find it fascinating. But this past month has been a weird and lovely display of things I wrote about having an impact in the world. Fred Douglas Park is getting corrected to Frederick Douglass Park. Some Rogans read my piece and, maybe, got a lead on an ancestor or two they didn’t have before.
That is awesome. I also, though, feel like it’s something I need to be mindful of. It would be so easy to pat myself on the back for my awesomeness and gloat around and just come to think that I can do no wrong. Positive feedback is a heady drug.
But I want to be mindful and humble to the work. I want to always have in the forefront of my mind that I can and will be wrong.
I want enough self-assuredness and confidence that I can do the work I like to do without crippling anxiety.
But I want to not get too confident in my own awesomeness. I don’t want to start lying to myself. I want a clear head to do good work, to tell the truth as I’ve found it.