The racial tensions we’ve seen brewing in America have been here since the Europeans first stepped foot on this land. The original people welcomed them and were willing to share everything because there was more than enough for everyone. The Europeans, however, had a different plan. One driven by what they called, “Manifest Destiny.” The pioneers believed they had a divine obligation to stretch the boundaries of their Republic all the way to the Pacific Ocean, despite the fact there were people already living on the land. They even went so far as to say their god blessed their actions. Yes, this is the same god most of you still pray to today. The image shown here is a depiction of Columbia, the “Spirit of the Frontier” leading the settlers westward. She’s holding telephone wires in one hand and books in another as they encounter the original people and bison. What does this have to do with racial tensions in America today? Everything!
The posts in this blog provide factual information outlining how today’s people of color are the descendants of the original copper-colored people the Europeans found in America. What was done to our ancestors back then is still being done to us today because the mindset of “Manifest Destiny” never went away. The articles listed in the Know Better section below talk about how the original people were considered heathens and had to be christianized by the missionaries. It also eludes to the need for replacing “darkness” with “light” and ignorance with civilization. The original people who did get christianized and so-called civilized were the ones who moved west of the Mississippi during the Trail of Tears and were initially embraced by the Europeans. The others, who didn’t conform and stayed on their land East of the Mississippi, were shunned and treated harshly.
It was clear then and is clear now that in order for us to be accepted we must assimilate and if we don’t, we’re shunned, treated harshly or portrayed in a negative light. This is what causes tension between whites and non-whites. The article goes on to discuss that at the heart of “Manifest Destiny” was the pervasive belief in racial superiority and that the original people were considered to be inferior. This belief also never went away, as much as whites would like to believe it did. This fuels racial tension more than anything! In today’s society for example, people of color who leave their inner-city neighborhoods, go off to college, get jobs in corporate America and live in the suburbs are accepted. On the other hand, people of color who never leave the inner-city are not accepted and are therefore shunned, treated harshly and portrayed in a negative light. Until this mindset is erased, and I’m not sure that it can be, race relations will continue to be a problem. The first step to solving any problem is awareness of the root cause.
Do Better: Learn the truth about your history or you’ll be at the mercy of the one telling the story. My son was taught in school that “Manifest Destiny” was a good thing for America, just like it was implied in his school that the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade was good for the American economy. We have an obligation to our youth to educate them on the truth, so others won’t dictate their worth to them.
Source: Understanding Genetics – Standford at the Tech Museum
In the case of using ancestry DNA to trace your roots, less is more. You’ve probably seen the ancestry show on tel-e-vision where a majority of the black celebrities’ roots are traced back to African tribes. This would make sense if you’re looking at the larger composition percentage to determine ancestry, but the larger number represents your most recent ancestors. You inherit 50% of your DNA from your parents and the percentages get lower the further you go down in generations, as illustrated in the table above. So, your most ancient ancestor (where you originated) would be signified by the lowest composition percentage.
Dr. Yaffa Bey gave the following analogy that’s a great example. If you take a cup of coffee, it will look and taste different when you add cream and sugar to it. Think of the coffee as your most ancient ancestor, the cream as what got into your blood line next and the sugar as what got into your blood line last. After all of the additives, there would be very little trace of the original coffee left, but it is still a cup of coffee. If you go back and watch some of the ancestry shows, you’ll see that a lot of the black celebrities had high African composition percentages and extremely low Native American composition percentages. That’s because their most ancient ancestors were from right here in America and the African DNA entered the bloodline the most recent.
Statistics listed in an article titled “Exactly How Black is America?” by Henry Lewis Gates, Jr. for the Root.com, reveal the average African-American has 0.6%-2% Native American ancestry. This tells us that the average African-American’s most ancient ancestors were Native American.
According to Ancestry.com, the average African-American is 65 % sub-Saharan African, 29 % European and 2 % Native American.
According to 23andme.com, the average African-American is 75 % sub-Saharan African, 22 % European and only 0.6 % Native American.
According to Family Tree DNA.com, the average African-American is 72.95 % sub-Saharan African, 22.83 % European and 1.7 % Native American.
According to National Geographic’s Genographic Project, the average African-American is 80 % sub-Saharan African, 19 % European and 1 % Native American.
According to AfricanDNA, the average African-American is 79 % sub-Saharan African, 19 % European and 2 % Native American.
A lot of our families have stories that great-grandma was Indian or great-grandma said her mother was Indian and we pass them off as just fleeting tales, without seeing their significance. Our people don’t know who we are because we allow others to dictate to us who we are. One day we’re Black, the next Colored, then Negro and don’t forget about African-American. The truth of the matter is, you are who your mother is.
For instance, maternal (mother) is to material as paternal (father) is to pattern. Every seamstress knows that you must first have “material” before it can ever be put with a “pattern” to make a dress. Also, you’ve all heard the saying, “Mother’s baby, Father’s maybe.” Taken literally, this phrase means if a baby comes out of a woman’s womb, it’s a fact that is her child. On the other hand, a man can say he fathered a child, or the woman can tell the man he fathered a child, but it’s anybody’s guess (outside of the DNA technology we have today).
What does this all mean? The copper-colored women, the Europeans found in America, eventually had children with foreign men (whether by choice or force) erasing the pure blood line (the coffee). Whether the foreign men were from Africa, Europe, Spain or Asian (the additives), the pure blood line will show up in your DNA less and less the further away you get from it throughout the generations. Which is why it’s important for us to document who we are now, either through the paper trail or through genealogical DNA testing, because if the results are coming back 2% and lower now, our children or children’s children may not show any traces of Native American in their bloodline at all.
For those of you who had your DNA tested and were disappointed with the low percentage you received for Native American, look again from the lens of this clarity about Ancestry DNA results. If your grandmother or great-grandmother said she was Indian, then believe her and stop letting other people tell you what or who you are! You are what your mother is and she is what her mother was and don’t ever forget it!
Imagine living in a land that had an abundance of everything. Trees, wildlife, rivers, lakes, vegetation – you name it, there was an abundance of it. Now imagine foreigners from a distant land washed ashore and you embraced them, shared your abundance with them and taught them how to survive in a land they knew nothing about. Then one day, the foreigners turned on you, killed your men, took your land, raped your women and re-educated your children to learn their ways and their religion. If this were your story, would you celebrate a holiday commemorating the foreigners’ first encounter with you? I hope you’d think that would be an insult to you and your people!
But what if you learned this was your story? What if you learned the foreigners changed what they called you so many times that your original identity was erased? What if you learned the foreigners portrayed other people as you and programmed you to believe you were from somewhere else? How would you feel about celebrating what would become the demise of a people all this time, just to find out they were your people?
I stopped celebrating Thanksgiving some time ago because I empathized with the Native Americans and felt what the Europeans did to them was wrong. After researching my ancestry and researching history, I was pissed – which is an understatement – to find out the original people the Europeans found in America were copper-colored like me and that I have Native American blood flowing through my veins. I can only blame myself for my ignorance though. It’s no one else’s fault that I blindly followed something I didn’t question and that it took me so long to find out who my ancestors were.
Do Better: If you or anyone in your family is copper-colored, your ancestors may have been the original people the Europeans found in America. Spend some time reading through the posts found in this blog to educate yourself. If you feel compelled to continue celebrating Thanksgiving because it’s tradition and it brings your family together, why not spend some of that time educating them on what you learned here.
Smokey Robinson’s sentiments, in this Def Poetry Jam piece, mirror what I’ve been blogging about in my posts. He hits the major points head on! However, I’d like to bring some clarity to the “Black” reference. Self-identifying as “Black” does not connect you with a nationality because it is a color (more like a concept) and your nationality is what determines your legal status. This becomes important if you ever have to fight for your human rights at the international level, which is what our people should be doing.
Black doesn’t even mean what we think it means. The original definitions for the word “black,” which can be found in the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster, include: pale; to become pale; to turn white; to bleach; to lighten. This sounds more like a description of the Europeans who found us here. At one point, Smokey referred to himself as an “American-American.” This is how I choose to identify myself.
Know Better: Here is where I would include a link to the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster so you can see the definition for the word “black,” but the on-line version conveniently excludes the entries I mentioned. You may be able to get your hands on the hard copy version at your local library, if your interested in seeing it for yourself. Otherwise, you can view the images from my copy below.
Do Better: Find out who you are by researching those who came before you. Then, and only then, can you truly be proud of who you are like Smokey Robinson expressed in his spoken words.
We’ve all heard and read Dr. King’s, “I Have A Dream” speech, or portions of it, at various points in our lives. You’d have to be living in a bubble not to hear it on the King holiday every year. It was recently brought to my attention that there is a little known segment of his speech that we all need to pay very close attention to:
“One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Is it possible Dr. King was trying to tell us who we are? Could he have been sending us a message, letting us know we are in our own land? Before I started my ancestry research, I probably would have thought that wasn’t what he meant. But now, I think it is possible; based on all the factual evidence I’ve stumbled across pointing to African-Americans being the copper-colored races of people the Europeans found here.
A lot of people may not buy into the connection I’m attempting to make here and that’s understandable. But consider that a lot was riding on this speech, and Dr. King would have selected his message and words carefully. Also consider that Dr. King was an educated man, and, from what I recall, he never referred to us as Africans or being from Africa.
This post is dedicated to the 4-year-old who asked his mom if he was dirty because his skin is dark.
A stigma has been placed on people of color, around the world, leading others to believe something must be wrong with us. I have a problem when our children start believing this as well. Who can blame them when most of the people they see in movies, advertisements and on tel-e-“vision” do not look like them. And when they do see people who look like them, it’s likely on the news related to something bad.
In my experience with people who try to make others look bad, it’s typically done to mask their own shortcomings. For example, as a kid growing up, I was teased for being a “know it all” by someone who wanted to take attention away from the fact that he wasn’t doing well in school. The same thing is happening here. There isn’t anything wrong with us (people of color). On the contrary, there is something very rightwith us.
People with dark skin have an abundance of Melanin which, according to Dr. Jewel Pookrum, “is the very foundation from which cells in the human body originate”. The darker you are, the more you have. This affords us the luxury of many health benefits including, but not limited to:
protection from the sun’s UV rays, allowing for greater
absorption of energy from the sun
production of Vitamin D, which absorbs calcium to promote bone growth
slower aging process of the skin
prevention of skin damage caused by free radicals
People who lack color have very little Melanin. Some even see it as a valuable commodity, and are willing to pay for it in the form of Melatonin pills and Melanotan injections.
Do Better: The next time you encounter a child with dark skin, hug them and let them know just how special and unique they are because they were born with an abundance of something other people wish they had more of – Melanin.
My previous post, “Africa is NOT a Country“, brought to light how identifying with the title African-American diminishes a person’s value due to the generalization of being connected to a continent and not a country. Well guess what? If we want to get technical, America is not a country either.
The Americas are a pair of continents (North America and South America). If you’re inclined to argue our country is the United States of America, why then isn’t our nationality United Statians like Canadians, Brazilians, Mexicans and Colombians? Why don’t we have our own language and our own culture? Why should we even care?”
Here’s why you should care.
Your nationality connects you to a country and determines your internationalpolitical status.
Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares, “everyone has the right to a nationalityand no one should be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.
Human rights, not to be confused with civil rights, are protected under internationallaw.
Do Better: Be careful about what you call yourself because it may have an impact on your international political status. African-American refers to two continents, Black is a color and believe it or not, the legal definition of a Minority is the state or condition of a minor (as in a child). Fighting for civil rights isn’t getting us anywhere, so we need to start fighting for human rights and we do not need our ambiguous legal status compromising our efforts. Knowledge of our ancestry will help us determine what our legal status should be. That is why researching your ancestry is so important.
The 1890 Census is a sore spot for anyone researching their ancestry in the U.S. because it’s the reason for a 20 year gap in records. Since this census was burned in a fire, there is very limited data to retrieve between 1880 and 1900. This causes many researchers to hit a brick wall because a lot can happen over the course of 20 years to make the “breadcrumb trail” disappear.
Too much shadiness was going on, around this time, for the burning of the census to be a coincidence. The article I link to below, detailing the facts surrounding the fire, leads me to believe there was definitely some foul play. Here’s some interesting facts from the article:
Do Better: There is a high probability the 1890 census was purposefully destroyed to continue erasing copper-colored people’s identity. I urge you to not let this 20 year gap in census data stop your ancestry research. Other records you can search at the county level include: birth, death, marriage, church and military records.
How is it possible for the offspring of two native Americans to be anything but native American?
During the time Dawes Rolls were instituted, Blood Quantum laws were being used to determine who was native enough to be included in one of the Five Civilized Tribes. Some natives were excluded because they didn’t have enough blood of onetribe to be included on their registry. As crazy as this may sound, those who were mixed with several different tribes were only allowed to enroll in one tribe. So, instead of adding up their blood quantum to be included, they could only claim the portion for the tribe they chose.
For example, if someone had 100% native blood, but from four different tribes, they could only claim 1/4 blood from one of the tribes. If that tribe required 1/2 degree blood quantum, then the native was excluded. As with the One-Drop Rule, these laws excluded many natives from tribal affiliation, thereby stripping them of their heritage and rights.
Do Better: Know that these laws I’ve been blogging about were put into place for a reason. That reason was to take away the identity of the coppered-colored races of people the Europeans found here. Taking away the identity made it easier for them to take over the land. It is imperative for you to research your ancestry so you’ll know who you are.
The One-Drop Rule was established during the late 1800s and early 1900s, when racial classification laws were being passed. Under this rule, anyone with one drop of African blood was classified as Black.
During that period, it was not uncommon for native Americans to form bonds with Africans, called Negroes. According to the One-Drop Rule, the child of a Native American and a Negro would be classified as Black. As harmless as this “label” may have seemed, it excluded many natives from tribal affiliation, thereby stripping them of their heritage and rights.
Do Better: For those of you who have started researching your ancestry using census and vital statistics records, you may keep running into the classification of “Black” or “Negro.” This doesn’t rule out native American ancestry. It just means at least one of the parents were African. The other parent could have been from here, so keep digging. This is where retrieving oral stories from elder relatives becomes important. When I interviewed my relatives, I was surprised to find out how many of the grandmothers were so-called Indian.