‘The View’ Host Sunny Hostin Learns She’s Descended From Slave Owner

By Victor Winston, updated on February 9, 2024

Sunny Hostin, a notable host on "The View," recently faced a journey into her ancestry that brought to light a complex family history intertwined with the realities of slavery.

On a recent episode of "The View," Hostin discussed how her appearance on PBS's "Finding Your Roots" unearthed her family's slaveholding past, but she firmly maintained her stance on the necessity of reparations and racial justice in the U.S.

The revelation made by Henry Louis Gates Jr., which involved a thorough examination of colonial Spain's archives, uncovered that one of Hostin's ancestors was a slave owner. Hostin confronted this discovery directly and experienced various emotions, from initial disappointment to a richer understanding of her family's history. As a prominent advocate for racial justice, this discovery added a personal dimension to her activism.

Joy Behar, who works alongside Hostin, provided support, emphasizing that individuals are not responsible for their ancestors' actions. This perspective highlighted an important part of the dialogue surrounding ancestry and accountability.

Intertwining Paths of History and Healing

In discussing the impact of the revelations on her family, Hostin shared her mother's deep disappointment and tears upon learning about their ancestors. The emotional weight of such discoveries can be profound, reshaping one's understanding of identity and belonging.

Hostin recounted:

She was deeply disappointed. She cried about it. And then she said maybe that’s why I have been so connected to Black culture because it’s an atonement in my spirit. And I received that.

This introspective reflection highlights the complex ways in which people navigate their relationship with history. Among the profound discoveries was Hostin's third great-grandfather, born into slavery in 1835, who registered to vote in Georgia two years after the Civil War ended. This piece of history is a poignant reminder of the resilience and strength embedded within Hostin's lineage.

Hostin's dialogue about her background goes beyond just acknowledging the past. It delves into the nuances of racial identity, reparations, and the journey toward understanding and healing.

Embracing a Complex Legacy

Hostin's honesty in sharing her story provides a framework for discussing difficult aspects of America's past, including slavery

I still believe in reparations, by the way. So, y’all can stop texting me and emailing me and saying that I’m a White girl and I don’t deserve reparations!

This declaration by Hostin emphasizes that understanding one's history does not negate the commitment to justice.

The story also sheds light on the multifaceted nature of racial and ethnic identities in America. Hostin, who is proud of her seven percent indigenous Puerto Rican heritage, challenges simplistic narratives around race and identity. This revelation serves as a testament to the diverse and often surprising narratives that shape individual and collective histories.

Concluding Thoughts

Sunny Hostin, a well-known host on "The View," encountered a profound personal revelation on PBS's "Finding Your Roots," discovering her family's history of slaveholding. Despite the shock, Hostin, an advocate for racial justice, used this knowledge to deepen her understanding of her heritage and the importance of reparations in America.

Her colleague Joy Behar's support and her family's emotional reactions underscore the complex journey of reconciling with one's past. Hostin's story emphasizes the resilience within her lineage and her continued commitment to advocating for racial justice and reparations, challenging simplistic narratives about race and identity in the process.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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