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













Catholic Church records

I wonder how many native New Yorkers looked to the Catholic Church for proof of their identity. If you are a native New Yorker, unmarried, not a parent, worked at the same job for 35 years and never learned to drive, you may not have an official identity. And to make it more interesting, what if your mother delayed naming you at birth. This happens a lot, according to NYC officials. “The focus on immigrant identity hides the number of native New Yorkers who don’t have identity papers. Many mothers delay naming their children,” said an NYC official who requested anonymity. As a genealogist trying to prove a client’s identity, my first thought was to go to church—in this case, the Roman Catholic Church.

That is how I handled my 60+ years old brother Sidney’s search for his official identity papers. His birth certificate stated his name as “Male Smith.” My mother’s maiden name, our father’s name and the date of birth was listed. Apparently our mother waited awhile before naming us. (My original birth certificate name is “Female Smith!” Our race is listed as “Colored.”)

Finally, we were able to find Sidney’s original Baptism records! (Insert a happy dance here!)  A special thank you to Mia Parker of Harlem’s All Saints Roman Catholic Church. I made many calls to All Saints, our childhood church. But, I was turned away at first. I was told that the person who searches old records only works one day per month and no one knew that person’s name! By chance on my fifth call I was connected immediately to Mia. She was so caring and helpful. Mia conducted a search and located the old church register book that contains records dating back decades! There was a small glitch with the priest’s name. The handwriting was unclear. But once that was settled, they were able to reissue my brother’s new Baptism certificate. I told Mia that she is saving my brother’s life because without identity papers, he cannot find housing, access municipal services, travel or even buy flu medication!

On Sidney’s Baptism record, his full name is stated, parent’s name, mother’s maiden, godparent’s names, priest name, and addresses of all. In addition, I noticed in the last margins of the Baptismal Register’s page is a date and place of Sidney’s Confirmation, another sacramental rite that he received. Most importantly, the newly issued Baptismal certificate is imprinted with the raised stamp of authenticity of the Roman Catholic Church!

But, this is not the end of the story. The next step is to pair this official Baptism certificate with his “no name” birth certificate and re-submit to the NYC Office of Records for a ‘correction.’ There is a small fee ($40) to request a “corrected” New York City birth certificate to be re-issued with Sidney’s name on it. Wish us luck!

This experience was a good reminder about the wealth of genealogy information that can be found in Roman Catholic Church records. I ran across an article that referenced the “three R’s” of searching Catholic Church records— registers, rites & rights and requests. This article focuses on US Roman Catholic Church records. When researching Catholic churches in other countries, you will find that accessibility and procedures may vary.

“Roman Catholic records offer a wealth of information for genealogists. They are particularly useful when official civil records of key life events (birth, marriage or death) are unattainable or unavailable. Tracing these records for your Catholic ancestors can sometimes be challenging, but worth the work.” Click here for the three “R’s” for research success, on the