Digging into your family history is never easy, even with a guide like Henry Louis Gates Jr., as his guests have learned on Finding Your Roots. For every royal revelation, something devastating is uncovered. But they all venture into the past, however painful it may be, in order to understand themselves better.
The View co-host Sunny Hostin has always been very open about her background, both on the show and in other venues. The AfroLatina lawyer detailed some of her family history in her memoir I Am These Truths: A Memoir of Identity, Justice, and Living Between Worlds; her father is Black and her mother is Puerto Rican. But Hostin always sensed there was a part of her family’s past she wasn’t being made privy to, so she sat down with Gates Jr. to get to the bottom of it.
In this exclusive clip we’re premiering ahead of Tuesday night’s episode, Hostin learns why her maternal grandmother was always so reluctant about returning to Puerto Rico.
Hostin’s grandmother Virginia Romero Diaz grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico, one of eight children. But before her 11th birthday, Virginia had already lost three of her siblings: Enrique, Candelaria, and Hostin’s namesake Asunción. That unimaginable loss was soon followed by the deaths of her parents.
Hostin reacts to the news with a solemn poise, born not just of her time as a journalist, but from the generations of strong women in her family. She invited Virginia several times to take a trip home, one that would be marked by luxury. But after learning just how much loss her grandmother endured, and at such a young age, Hostin says “It makes a lot more sense now that she refused to go back.” Virginia had “no desire to talk about her time there,” which is why Hostin never knew what she’d been through while she was alive.
That seems to be a running theme in this season of Finding Your Roots, though that could probably be said for every installment of the show, which marks its 10th year on PBS. For more on Hostin’s family history or to find out what’s in actor Jesse Williams’, tune in Tuesday tonight at 8:00 PM ET, either by streaming on PBS.org or by checking your local listings.
Danette Chavez is the Editor-in-Chief of Primetimer and its biggest fan of puns.