My Life in the Sunshine: Searching for My Father and Discovering My Family

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2022-06-19 22:34Z by Steven

My Life in the Sunshine: Searching for My Father and Discovering My Family

Viking (an imprint of Penguin Random House)
2022-06-07
320 Pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4
Hardcover ISBN: 9780593295960

Nabil Ayers

A memoir about one man’s journey to connect with his musician father, ultimately redefining what family really means

Throughout his adult life, whether he was opening a Seattle record store in the ’90s or touring the world as the only non-white band member in alternative rock bands, Nabil Ayers felt the shadow and legacy of his father’s musical genius, and his race, everywhere.

In 1971, a white, Jewish, former ballerina, chose to have a child with the famous Black jazz musician Roy Ayers, fully expecting and agreeing that he would not be involved in the child’s life. In this highly original memoir, their son, Nabil Ayers, recounts a life spent living with the aftermath of that decision, and his journey to build an identity of his own despite and in spite of his father’s absence.

Growing up, Nabil only meets his father a handful of times. But Roy’s influence is strong, showing itself in Nabil’s instinctual love of music, and later, in the music industry—Nabil’s chosen career path. By turns hopeful–wanting to connect with the man who passed down his genetic predisposition for musical talent—and frustrated with Roy’s continued emotional distance, Nabil struggles with how much DNA can define a family… and a person.

Unable to fully connect with Roy, Nabil ultimately discovers the existence of several half-siblings as well as a paternal ancestor who was enslaved. Following these connections, Nabil meets and befriends the descendant of the plantation owner, which, strangely, paves the way for him to make meaningful connections with extended family he never knew existed.

Despite his father’s absence, Nabil, through sheer will and a drive to understand his roots, redefines what family truly is.

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A Family Tree With Roots Deep In Slavery

Posted in Autobiography, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2018-12-03 01:03Z by Steven

A Family Tree With Roots Deep In Slavery

Code Switch: Race and identity, remixed
National Public Radio
2018-11-21

Nabil Ayers

All families have histories.
Man_Half-tube/Getty Images

“Well hello there Nabil!

“I welcome your letter.

“So in the little bit of information you shared with me, I am intrigued.

“I have worked for a number of years, 26 in fact, on my genealogy. It has been a passion and at times an obsession.”

In her initial email to me, Karen surprised me with her excitement and candor — neither of which I was expecting from the woman whom I had gently accused of being the descendant of the man who owned my ancestors…

…My mother, who is white, chose to have me and raise me on her own. My father is black, but because he has never been part of my life, I’ve never held a strong black identity or felt I belonged to any single race. I grew up in very diverse and liberal surroundings where, if anyone asked, I was racially mixed, and that was fine.

I’m often asked the question, “What are you?” Or the less invasive, but still pointed, “Where are you from?” I’ve always described myself as “half black and half white.” It’s a phrase I still use for simplicity…

Read the entire article here.

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You Got a Little Soul in You, I See

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2017-11-10 02:29Z by Steven

You Got a Little Soul in You, I See

The Root
2017-11-04

Nabil Ayers


Nabil Ayers with his mother (courtesy of Nabil Ayers)

I am often asked about my name. “Nabil. It’s an Arabic name,” I’ll say. “It means noble, learned and generous,” which usually demands further interest.

“Where are you from?” They’ve likely narrowed down their guess to somewhere in the Middle East, hoping for a story as interesting as the name itself.

New York. My mother found the name in a book she liked.” I rarely take the time to explain that I’m named after Nabíl-i-A`zam, the author of The Dawn-Breakers: Nabil’s Narrative, which chronicles the Babi and Baha’i faiths’ beginnings in the mid-19th century.

It’s not unusual for people to then grow more curious, as if I’m withholding something remarkable. Their eyes look more closely at mine, or my nose, or my beard, searching to latch onto a distinguishable feature. I know that they’re trying to determine my race.

“My father is black and my mother is white,” I tell people…

Read the entire article here.

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