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Two-time Albright Honors for Angela Epps

Friday from the Archives: “Those Awful Family Trees” by Angela Belcher Epps from NCLR Online Fall 2022.

The Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize contest submission window runs through March 1!

Angela Belcher Epps has twice won an honorable mention for this prize. Her 2022 essay “Those Awful Family Trees” perfectly fit into the feature section of “Writers Who Teach, Teachers Who Write.” Epps writes about education and family lineage, her own and others she experiences as a teacher and nonprofit worker.

Her writing seamlessly flows from the personal to the community. She starts with, “When I attended elementary school in rural North Carolina, the school year ended in May. Neither our family nor our neighbors paid any attention to that meaningless paternal holiday in the middle of June. Nobody made a special trip to town for a Hallmark card or a gift. On a day of reflecting, I wondered whether Father’s Day had been downplayed during that era in the South because there were so many blurred boundaries lingering from slavery and Jim Crow. Many Southerners could recognize a mixed-race neighbor or relative of questionable or unmentionable parentage. In such cases, it was absolutely best to leave paternity questions alone.”

She writes not only about her own immediate family, but her extended family and the stories of students she teaches or assists at school. Health and safety are paramount, not DNA. Epps closes writing, “Protocols that lead us to pretend we’re all having homogeneous experiences will continue to stick in my craw. I’m certainly not casting aspersions on traditional two-parent units; I simply want society to acknowledge and validate all loving and caring configurations that keep kids safe and emotionally nourished. To be fair, I’ll no longer berate the wellmeaning educators who remain wed to the family tree assignment. Might I suggest, however, that they provide an array of trees from which children can choose to chart their unique journeys. The first that comes to mind is a resiliency tree that highlights all the people who have helped them along their journey.”

Read the entire essay in NCLR Online Fall 2022.