Auntyland affirms and honors Black, Indigenous, and People of Color aunt narratives, artists, and businesses through our annual holiday – Real Aunties Day. Because of COVID19, we shifted all activities online. We believe in scholarship and community. We aim to disrupt stereotypes about aunts and mature women of color with events, programs, and a new holiday called ‘Real Aunties Day’ set on March 8.

Decolonize Women’s History Month

“In our world, the word ‘Auntie’ and the ‘aunt’ role present complex historical and cultural meanings. Today, in 2021, colonialism and racism still impact our lives. Auntyland is an intersectional place where race, gender, and age meet. With ‘Real Aunties Day’ on March 8, we want to bring together some realness, to decolonize some national holidays starting with Women’s History Month,” said Sylvia Wong Lewis, Auntyland founder, and proud auntie.


Aunt stories will take center stage for the first time. Mothers and grandmothers have been studied and celebrated for eons.  But few understand the world of aunts. That’s where we come in. We will bring more creativity, scholarship, and rigor to teach about the aunt world.

Pronoun-defying superheroes

Why Auntyland? Because aunts are pronoun-defying superheroes, who have been overlooked too long! Aunts are chosen kinfolks, sometimes biological relations, second mothers, grandmothers, Godmothers, and more. Aunties play pivotal roles in strengthening Black, Brown, and Tan families and communities. We are especially reaching out to African American, Caribbean, African, and Asia women and siblings to document unique and resilient families and community traditions. This is the first time ‘real auntie’ stories will be collected and archived dynamically.

Activism, Social Justice

Auntyland is also a whimsical place full of joyful and amazing women. We are passionate about life and love. AND activism and social justice are our biggest concerns. Did you see us keeping vigil for the caged children at the borderlands? Do you see us marching and protesting daily for equality everywhere? Didn’t we save American Democracy at an Alabama election? Today more than ever, we need to disrupt the race, gender, and age bias– and take control of our narratives. Our voices and images are too often dismissed and stereotyped. No more!

Aunties Rule!

“When I think about my ‘aunties,’ I am filled with awe and gratitude. My mother’s friends and my parent’s siblings intervened in my life and the lives of my peers in pivotal ways. We hope to bring back some of that positive ‘auntie’ energy. “Where Sisterhood lives, Aunties Rule!’ is our motto. We aim to be a motivational and community-building space. Through our digital platform, events, and e-store, we hope to inspire, educate, and entertain,” Lewis added.

Have you ever been called ‘Auntie’ or ‘Titi’? Do you call anyone Auntie or Titi? These are cultural terms of endearment and respect titles for Caribbean, Latina, African, Asian, African American women, and siblings. But the word and the role can present different meanings depending on the circumstances. Let’s explore Auntyland!


Share your stories

Let’s schedule your interview to be featured on our website, podcasts, or videos. Talk about ‘aunties’ of all kinds. Honor an Auntie by sharing her story for our archives. Share what’s happening in your world! Do you have aunties–related, chosen, or found in genealogy? Are you an aunt or grand aunt? Are you taking care of a niece, nephew, young or old? Are you living with an Auntie?

‘Real Aunties Day’: Our public programs and events, including films, sports, arts, workshops, panels, and festivals, will cover topics and issues for and about aunties and mature women of color. Details to come soon.

Photography/Artists: We are reaching out to mature women writers, artists, and creatives of all kinds: photos, artwork, illustrations, multimedia to be featured in our public programs.

Funding: We are community-based in New York City and independently funded via grants through our fiscal sponsorship with Fractured Atlas. To make a tax-deductible donation, click the direct link here.

Contact: If interested, please send an email to













My Fat Genes

With Kim Nemoy, my baby sister, on right

My baby sister was always bigger than me. She takes after my father’s people. The women on his side are thick and full-bodied.  Why are they big? One answer is: Good food leads to eating a lot. I always blamed our Mississippi and Louisiana heritage for developing our famous cooking genes! I mean, who invented Southern cuisine? Not Paula Dean! But, more on our cooking genes later.

Actually, many of us inherited fat genes from our ancestors—a genetic disposition for obesity. One in every seven Americans were born with the fat gene! Mexico recently surpassed the US as the  “world’s most obese,” according to a United Nations report. But are you destined to be fat if your family is fat? Scientists say No! You can prevent obesity by exercising and eating healthy food.

Furthermore, British scientists recently gained a deeper understanding about a fat gene called “FTO,” that causes our “hunger” hormones to crave certain foods more than others.

“A version of an obesity gene, called FTO, had been linked to a bigger belly, but the reason why was uncertain. A study, published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation, showed it made fatty foods more tempting and altered levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin. Obesity experts said drugs targeting ghrelin might reduce weight gain.

Read more about it:

In my family there were several heart attacks and strokes. As we know, obesity is a high risk factor for diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. At least 2.8 million adults die each year as a result of being overweight or obese. More than 40 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2011, according to the World Health Organization.

Let’s face it. All of us may gain a few pounds now and then. And, we really can’t blame our extra weight on any single factor: genetics, nature, nurture, and environment. In terms of the environment, if you live in New York City, you are more likely to walk and take public transit than folks living in other places where they mostly drive. Obesity is caused by a combination of factors.

view of man’s fat belly sitting on park bench.

So, let’s not wait for pharmaceutical companies to develop new obesity drugs based on our fat genes.  Instead, let’s eat better, cook healthy, walk and exercise more and prayer helps too! Does the fat gene run in your family?

Genealogy is Good for Your Health

Smith family gathering in Brooklyn.

At a recent family gathering a cousin criticized my genealogy passion: “Why are you looking back? You should be looking forward,” she said.  As a genealogist, I gasped. But it took only a moment to re-group. Here was a teachable moment! Timing must be right in order for learning to happen. A simple conversation began. The dialogue that we had became the best way to explain how genealogy ie. family history could be good for your health–mind, body and soul!

Did you know that the more you know about health conditions and traits that run in your family, the healthier you can be? Genealogy is also good for your emotional, spiritual and psychological health! But, more on that in future postings.

Start talking: The best way to start your genealogy health journey is to start talking with the living. Today, even if you are adopted, you can find your family history by taking a DNA genealogy test to find relatives. At the reunion, we started by talking about family traits and cultural traditions passed down. One of the traits we discussed was left-handedness. Our mother was born left-handed. But because of her family’s cultural taboos, she was forced to become right-handed. And, three of her four children were born left-handed!  We also talked about other traits like hair texture, body types and ethnic mixtures found on both sides of our family.  All of these topics, especially ethnicity and cultural backgrounds are relevant to your health and should be discussed by your health care provider.

Ten Questions to Ask at Family Reunion:

  1. What traits run in our family? eg. dimples, twins, eyes or hair color, freckles, attached earlobes, toe lengths, artistic, musical, mechanical, athletic abilities.
  2. What health problems run in our family?
  3. How old were family members when diagnosed with an illness?
  4. What conditions caused death in our family? Who was the oldest in our family?
  5. Any pregnancy losses?
  6. Any birth defects, mental illness, or developmental disabilities?
  7. What is the ethnic make-up of our family?
  8. Where does our family come from? (country, regions)
  9. Lifestyle queries: smoking; where did family members work, list occupations; did they work on a farm, factory, outdoors; obesity or extremely thin; drug, alcoholism problems?
  10. Any allergies to foods or medication?

Tool Kit for Family Health History:

Here’s a link to a tool kit with important facts, ideas and activities to help you document your family history, published by Utah Department of Health:

Genealogy Resources: The following records can help you learn what your living relatives may not know about your family history:

  1. Death certificates-includes cause and date of death of an ancestor; may include diseases, conditions of concern during a specific historic era.
  2. Funeral Home Records – funeral programs, files might name relatives assisting and providing family information.
  3. Obituaries – checking old newspapers can net amazing details especially if there was an accident or a crime.
  4. US Census– check for age of parents, children born to older parents, large gaps between births; many relatives living together; certain occupations can impact health, like coal miners.
  5. Religious Records – and church bulletins also include clues about a specific community and the person’s health condition.