Ponce de León, You Are Not the Forefather


Aside from a few shared scribbles of genetic code, it is difficult to say exactly what keeps us tethered to our distant ancestors. Over at Oxford American, Alex Mar thinks through the implications of incorporating these stories into our personal narratives as she confronts the terrible deeds of her oft-claimed ancestor—the conquistador, Ponce de León.

“This is not an aspect of my inheritance I want to engage with. Do I have to? Can I skip this part? Do we inherit awesome accomplishments and awesome guilt in equal measure? What part of this is family? Can we pick and choose what’s ours in the present tense?”

Theodora Messalas is a New York-based writer and editor who could easily be talked into going to grad school. More from this author →