So I’m reading EBONY Magazine (in paper form because I’m old school) and on page 36 I see Henry Louis Gates Jr. discussing DNA and why the majority of us have Caucasion– not Native American– blood.
Adrienne Samuels Gibbs reports:
here is one major misconception that Black people need to stop perpetuating about our history, says Henry Louis Gates Jr., the boisterous Harvard professor, prolific writer and TV personality who is soon to unveil a new season of Finding Your Roots on PBS.
“In all my series and work, I’ve only found one guest who actually descended from a Native American,” says Gates. “The biggest myth in African-American genealogy is, “My grand-great grandmother had high cheek bones and straight black hair.”
He even gave away 10,000 free DNA testing kits to upper-class Black businessmen to prove his point. “Brothers in the streets say DNA don’t lie,” says Gates. “[At this event,] 1500 Negroes in three piece suits lined up all day to spit [into a DNA collection tube]. I told them, ‘None of you Negroes got Native American ancestry. Take the test and prove me wrong.’”
Turns out that most of us — no matter the curliness of our hair or darkness of our skin– have Caucasion blood, much like Branford Marsalis, whose DNA is explored along with Harry Connick Jr.’s this season on the series. Marsalis’ New Orleans ancestry was a rare case in which rape was not the reason why German blood was introduced into the family, says Gates. “Most of our mixed ancestry comes from slavery, but in this case, it was love.”
Gates came to his affinity for dispersing Black ancestral mythology through EBONY’s own Lerone Bennett Jr., the former executive editor who wrote Black history articles for the magazine for many years. Gates decided that he, too, wanted to be sure the truth of Blackness was studied and distributed.
He’s written several books over the past few years and been in the news repeatedly. He was doubly inspired to work hard because of his aging father, who passed away on Christmas Eve of 2010 at age 97. “I was trying to get a lot of work out for him so he could see some [of the] TV series and read some of the books. I didn’t get everything out, but I didn’t do so badly.”
This season, we’ll also learn about the ancestry of Wanda Sykes, Margaret Cho, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Kevin Bacon, Pastor Rick Warren and Robert Downey Jr. In seasons past, we learned that Chris Rock was 30% White; Don Cheadle was 19% White’ and most Blacks descend from on of 46 African tribes– with very different characteristics, hair textures, bone structure and skin colors.
It’s an interesting thing to ponder at a time when pop culture seems to be pushing the term “post-racial,” as if racism were dead. Several authors are publishing books on a so-called “new” kind of Blackness and “new” kind of Black person.
“I think we are in a class crisis within race,” says Gates. “Civil Rights led to affirmative action, which led to the new Black middle class. We have so many needs that we need all of our allies on board because we are in a prolonged struggle for the survival of our people.
I’m black and I know it-
My melanin tone shows it.
Though my mothers fathers grandmother was Native American indeed.
And just in case I doubted it — he had a framed photo of she
that was displayed on the wall; his chief concern was for history to stick.
As a tot, I wondered why her stare had a glare & her neck was so thick?
Was she a big boned chick?
I never asked because my other adolescent questions about LIFE were so many.
Besides not many of the adult women in our family were all too waif or skinny.
I did not want to offend. lol!
And so today I am a thick chic and I am most sure we are related.
Whether or not I have a drop of her blood in me – I suppose could be debated.
If it were my grandfathers grandmother on my mothers side who was Cherokee
Does that mean there’s any DNA left from generation-to-generation to show up in me?
I’m willing to be tested.
I’m a fan of Prof. Gates, and a fan of tracing back historical seeds.
Trusting in Grand Daddy’s word and his framed photo – so NEGRO PLEASE! lol!