This essay examines the complex relationship that developed between ethnographer Lashon Daley and her research subject, Diane Ferlatte, over the course of Daley’s master’s thesis project and the years beyond. Through storytelling and narrative prose, Daley investigates the roles that grief, death, Black motherhood, and the Black southern oral tradition play within their ever-growing bond. As their relationship progresses from researcher and respondent to mother and daughter, their bond displays the connective tissue that binds one person to another through history, memory, and the common experience of loss. By exploring the performativity of Black women who are bonded by love and not blood, this essay demonstrates how Black womanhood becomes a conduit for grieving and healing.

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