By: Jerome Lafayette Narramore, aka Moses X

On that day in October 2000, my fiancé (now wife) and I stood staring at Mom’s three redacted birth records, jaws agape. Upon reading the transparent version, the clarion call to truth and justice trumpeted its first alarm.

“Father: Jerome Barber. Race: BLACK…”

I am Autistic, and my fingers began twirling astride my thighs, racing against unbeatable ancestral rhythms. My ancestors were waiting in eternity for this very moment to arrive.

At ages two and one, unidentified people found Mom and her younger brother in an abandoned house. Imprisoned by hunger and ghosts of what should have been a different life, I held no other details other than her Sicilian story and no bio family to query.

Everything I thought I knew about myself became shrapnel strewn on the worn floorboards of the town hall in Castleton, Vermont. Mom lied. She had to tell me something because no one would believe the truth. She wasn’t Sicilian at all, which meant neither was I. Mom was passing!

Photograph of Jerome Lafayette Narramore's mother
Mom, 1960, Rutland, Vermont

Why would she and my family allow me to change my name and identity to a Sicilian one in honor of what she wasn’t able to have? What was so bad?

Vermont is traditionally the most Euro-centric state in the nation, and at the time of Mom’s birth, the demographics were a robust 99.9% white. What were the odds of being in the .1%? And what did their experience look like in complete white-solation?

As the years rolled on, I struggled with my discovery and identity and sought a way to disprove it. As a newbie researcher, I absorbed methodology insights from a site named, which pointed me to, a repository for genealogical records. Those records were sparse and confusing. I located four census reports with Mom’s father listed for 1910-1940. Two listed them as “white,” and the other two as “Black.” What little I knew about the people in the area did not include Black folk, and I was incapable of genetic mirroring, but there was my brother’s Afro to consider. Hmm…

Around 2003, FamilyTreeDNA began selling Y-DNA test kits. DNA? I never thought about this as a utility—BRILLIANT! And brilliant it turned out to be. Only men inherit Y-DNA from father to son since the beginning of humans. Though it would not serve my immediate purpose, it would serve to solve a future mystery.

Soon thereafter, new companies emerged with autosomal testing, which could predict racial ethnicity/admixture on a very broad level. I tested with them throughout a decade, and the results were surprising. I returned African admixture across the board between 13 and 20%, Indigenous admixture between 1 and 3%, and Southeast Asian also between 1 and 3%.

I was introduced to a male first cousin from Mom’s father’s side who agreed to submit his autosomal/Y-DNA. His results revealed a haplogroup of E-M2/ U170, which is African-Bantu, and our Family Finder results confirmed we were first cousins.

It was time to have Mom test while affording the space she deserved to process what I now understood was a very difficult life. Without offering rationale, we went from NYC to Vermont with test kits in hand. Test number one was from a now-defunct company named AncestrybyDNA, which gauged her admixture at 38% African and 7% Asian/South Asian. I then tested her with FamilyTreeDNA, 23andMe, and Ancestry.

The results were clear: her father’s genetics most likely translated into a Black-presenting man. She also came up with first cousins on her maternal side who were 100% European admixed, thus confirming her phased paternal African origins. I felt like Dr. Frankenstein.

Photo of Jerome Lafayette Narramore's mom's ancestrybydna test results
Mom’s results, 2008, AncestrybyDNA
Jerome Lafayette Narramore's mom's updated FamilyTreeDNA test results
Mom’s updated results, FamilyTreeDNA, 2024

What happened? Why did I not see any Black folk ever in my entire lifetime of visits? I needed proof; I needed a photo. All local doors slammed shut in Castleton, Vermont. My inquiries went unanswered—a lesson I learned under a shifting identity and perspective. All the stories of insolence and oppression against Black Americans now applied to me and my family, and I was fighting to take our rightful identity back.

At the suggestion of a colleague, I turned to a psychic medium named Thomas John for guidance. He connected with my grandfather by name (Jerome) and shared some granular details of the breakage which were impossible to mine from any source. Thomas claimed a picture (“a painting or picture”) of him was next to Stowe.

Who would have a painting of a Brother hanging on their wall 101 miles away from Castleton?

He said to check with an historical society, so I called them all. They rebuked me, one even laughed at my question. I didn’t understand the joke then, but am fully aware now.

While asleep one night, my grandfather came to me yelling, “Mug shots! Mug shots!” I rose from my bed and emailed the only historian of Vermont Black History I knew of, Elise Guyette, and asked if a mug shot of my grandfather could exist.

Two days later, Elise responded with an email containing a mug shot of my grandfather, a beautiful Black man, imprisoned for having children with my white grandmother, who vanished into Vermont’s Green Mountains. She found them in a historical repository for jettisoned court cases in the town next to Stowe.

Photo of Jerome Lafayette Narramore's grandfather's mug shot
My grandfather’s mug shot, 1945, Rutland County Court, Vermont

I plunged myself into an inconceivable and incendiary world of purposely unreported Black History. The stories I uncovered through genetics, hidden resources, interviews, and four mediums are straight out of the deep South playbook. It was not some latent ancestor four generations back buried behind hundreds of European ancestors. She was Black, Obama Black. She and her brother are living as “Negro Boarders” in the 1950 census. Hell, the state threw them both out at 12 or 11 years old because that’s how badly they desired to preserve their Anglo-based heritage. Mississippi has nothing on Vermont. My poor family, my poor mother, and my uncle, who ended his life prematurely.

The transformative world of genetic genealogy incited new passions and career paths within me. I assist NPEs in discovering their biological families; the state of Vermont’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has selected me to be an emblematic case to account for my family’s trauma on record; I recently produced a documentary on race in America; and I am currently querying literary agents with my finished manuscript detailing my stolen family’s experiences in Vermont. This was Mom’s final request to me.

Mom endured. With her once patchy life story affirmed, she rose in public and identified as a Black woman just before succumbing to Alzheimer’s in 2020.

Me? Of course, I changed my name again—but this time, it’s forever. I am the stealthy Black man no one saw coming, not even myself. As I dance in the showering particles of light, I am mindful that life without purpose is like paper genealogy without DNA evidence. For the nuisance of knowledge is what true freedom promises to be, and we never walk this journey alone.