Ancestry.com recently sent me something called an ethnicity inheritance.
This is very interesting to me. “Ancestry® developed a technology called SideView™ to sort this out using DNA matches. Because a match is usually related to you through only one parent, your matches can help us ‘organize’ the DNA you share with them.
“SideView™ technology powers your ethnicity inheritance—the portions of each region you inherited from each parent. This enables us to provide your ethnicity inheritance without testing your parents (though we don’t know which parent is which).”
I would not be going out on a limb to assume Parent 1 is my mother. Her European ancestry is about half and the vast majority of my Irish heritage. Whereas my father is less than one-third European.
This could, of course, get into great debates, long litigated, about “What is race?” In America, race is less biology – designations such as quadroons and octoroons notwithstanding – but sociology. My mother, though quite fair, identified as a black woman, as did her parents and grandparents. Her great-grandfather fought in the Civil War in the 26th New York Infantry (Colored).
Those folks from Munster, County Cork I’m related to are more likely related to the Yates, Williams, and Archer families, rather than the Walker, Patterson, and Cone tribes.
Like many people, my family was told that on my mother’s side, we were indigenous North American. well, maybe a ways back. But my father’s side showed no measurable connection.
I might have told this story before, in which case I’m telling it again. My parents could not rent an apartment in Binghamton, NY in the 1950s because they were perceived as a mixed couple, engaged in [horrors] miscegenation! For reasons, they couldn’t buy a place either. My parents finally bought a home in Johnson City; I lent them part of the downpayment since my college costs, in those days, were pretty cheap and I had a Regents scholarship.
I’m hoping the ethnicity inheritance discovery will somehow help me in my genealogical journey.
I know that I have railed against people using literally one line from one Martin Luther King, Jr. speech out of context. You have heard it, a lot. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
This was, obviously to me, an aspiration. I came across an article from 2013, a half-century after the speech, which addressed a cultural debate.
“The meaning of King’s monumental quote is more complex today than in 1963 because ‘the unconscious signals have changed,” says the historian Taylor Branch, author of the acclaimed trilogy ‘America in the King Years.’
“Fifty years ago, bigotry was widely accepted. Today, Branch says, even though prejudice is widely denounced, many people unconsciously pre-judge others.
“‘Unfortunately race in American history has been one area in which Americans kid themselves and pretend to be fair-minded when they really are not,’ says Branch, whose new book is ‘The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement.'”
Two of King’s children, Martin III and Bernice, offered similar sentiments.
The “real” anti-racists?
Conversely, “Conservatives feel they have embraced that quote completely. They are the embodiment of that quote but get no credit for doing it,” says the author of the article [in the RightWingNews.com blog], John Hawkins. ‘Liberals like the idea of the quote because it’s the most famous thing Martin Luther King said, but they left the principles behind the quote behind a long time ago.'”
For me, the latter sentiment suggests, not only have we’ve all been to the mountaintop, but that we’ve gotten to the Promised Land. This is a reference to MLK’s speech in Memphis the day before he was assassinated. He says, “I MAY NOT GET THERE WITH YOU.” We had not, and have not, yet overcome.
So how do we assess this conundrum? We look at the data. And I’ve suggested before that we set aside slavery in the discussion because most people agree; Slavery Was Bad. (And those who think otherwise… well, I’ve got nothing.)
By looking at it, we see the failure of the 40 acres and a mule to come to fruition. And 4000 lynchings of black people, often as public spectacles; let’s have a picnic! Voter suppression still happens today. Property loss from New Deal policies that didn’t apply to black people to the GI Bill that didn’t apply to black people to roads going through neighborhoods where black people lived. Oh, and mass incarceration. And why Black Lives Matter. (RIP, Trayvon Martin. Ten years gone.)
Or we can talk about the lack of black representation in many areas and not just NFL ownership.
There is evidence that the information is easily retrievable. But we can’t talk about this because it might make us “uncomfortable. It especially might make our poor, innocent children, “uncomfortable.” So we build boogie men, such as Critical Race Theory, and shut down discussions about race. Because we’re all equal now.
And while we’re at it, let’s not talk about gay people or transgender people or the Holocaust because, if we do THAT, it’ll be traumatic for our children! (I’m talking about YOU, Florida.)
I’m recommending a post by Kelly Sedinger, which he wrote at the end of February 2022. It’s titled “History is not a feel-good story.” And touches on some of the issues I’ve addressed here. It links to a very good John Oliver video on the wringing of hands over CRT.
Kelly notes, correctly: “History isn’t about feeling bad or feeling good. History is about learning what we’ve done, the good and the bad, so we can make better decisions later.” OR we can just ostrich our way through life.
“What Should You Call Middle Passage Descendants?” That’s the title of a recent article that Peter Feinman wrote in The Institute of History, Archaeology, and Education, which I receive regularly.
After an annoying, all-caps defense of his use of “HISTORICALLY ACCURATE TERMINOLOGY WHICH MAY BE OFFENSIVE TO READERS…” he discusses the historic use of the word Negro. This is not the first time he has tackled the subject.
He quotes Marc Lacey, the National Editor of The New York Times. “Everyone in this country who traces their ancestors back to Africa has experienced a panoply of racial identifiers over their lives, with some terms imposed and others embraced. In the course of a single day in 2020, I might be called black, African-American, or a person of color. I’m also labeled, in a way that makes my brown skin crawl, as diverse, ethnic, or a minority.”
Feinman’s primary point is clear. “The constantly changing name for Middle Passage people poses a dilemma for historians and museums… Do you use the historically accurate name from the time period of the people you are discussing – meaning the name they used themselves for self-identification – or do you use the name from the present and impose it on the past?”
With a capital N
Booker T. Washington called the Greenwood District of Tulsa, OK “the Negro Wall Street of America.”
In “What Thurgood Marshall Taught Me” by Stephen L. Carter, Yale School of Law (NYT 7/2021), he notes the first black SCOTUS justice “would answer that he’d spent his life fighting for the capital N in ‘Negro’ and wasn’t going to let a ‘bunch of kids’… tell him what he should call himself. Today we scarcely recall the titanic struggle over [the] capitalizing [of] ‘Negro.'” I had read about this, and it was indeed a BFD at the time.
Feinman quotes John McWhorter at length. “Yes, the word [Negro] should not be used to refer to Middle Passage descendants today, that would be ‘tacky.’ However, it is a historically-valid name that is not a slur.”
I was watching the PBS/Ken Burns series about Muhammad Ali. The boxer in fact did use the word Negro as an insult towards Floyd Patterson and other black boxing opponents that marketed themselves as the “real Americans”, presumably Christan. They would take down Cassius Clay, using a name the champ, who had joined the Nation of Islam, had by then rejected.
McWhorter wonders “What purpose does it serve to generate this new lexical grievance?… Does Black America … need yet another word to take umbrage at and police the usage of? Do we, in Black America, need fellow travelers — sorry, allies — to join us in this new quest, eager to assist in the surveillance out of some misguided sense that this is ‘doing the work’?”
Yes, we don’t need to change the names of the United Negro College Fund or Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. Of course, we ought not to change the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. from “Negro” to whatever term is more “current.”
My take on present usage
When I was growing up, one of my siblings used to nag my maternal grandmother every time she’d talk about “colored people.” “What color ARE they, grandma?” “Black.”
I grew up with the term “Negro” which got stretched to silly comments about how my knee grows to more, er, problematic uses. So I was cool with black, even though, FOR YEARS, people would, unsolicited, say that I wasn’t really BLACK, but more a BROWN, and white people were more a shade of PINK… Please stop.
I remember being corrected over a sociology paper in college that I should use Black rather than black, the logic being that it’s replacing Negro. OK, if I’m using White, I’ll use Black. But if I’m writing white, I’m also writing black.
I know that African-American resonates with a lot of people. When I worked the 1990 Census as an enumerator, one choice was “Negro or black.” More than one respondent replied, almost defiantly, “African-American!” That’s fine. But the word, as well as the briefly popular Afro-American, never resonated with me. Over the last half-century, it’s been even more problematic.
1. It is a very narrow term. We’re talking about black people from sub-Saharan Africa who are Americans. So it doesn’t mean Charlize Theron, who is a white South African actress and a naturalized American citizen. Or the black terrorist during the Charlie Hebo incident, described initially by CNN as an African-American, when he was Afro-French. Or a number of black people in the US who aren’t Americans at all.
2. It has too many syllables, 7 (or 5) versus 1. Black History Month flows a lot easier than African-American…
That said, I prefer it to the newish, labored term BIPOC. In addition to sounding ugly, it works so hard to distinguish the Black experience of Middle Passage Descendants from the Indigenous experience of being pushed off their land, from People Of Color, who are Hispanics or East Asians or South Asians et al., as though THEIR experiences are all the same. Meh.
I’m trying to contextualize the disappointing but unsurprising Kyle Rittenhouse verdict.
One part is Mark Evanier’s tweet. “And one day soon, someone of a different political view and/or race will do what Kyle Rittenhouse did and all the folks cheering today’s verdict will be screaming, ‘Rule of law!'”
There is a 2021 article in Slate that I found intriguing. “Black gun rights advocate Kenn Blanchard says Black Americans shouldn’t be scared of the Second Amendment.”
And of course, many African-Americans are afraid. Race DOES permeate the politics of gun control. Think of the death of Philando Castile, who announced to an officer at a traffic stop that he had a gun in his car. He ended up dead, and that continues to gut me.
I’m left to speculate what would have been the reaction by law enforcement to a young black male running through the streets of Kenosha, WI with an AR-15. Perhaps he would have ended up dead like Emantic “EJ” Fitzgerald Bradford Jr. He was a good black man with a gun trying to end an Alabama mall shooting.
But Kyle Rittenhouse, running through the chaotic streets with an automatic weapon, goes past law enforcement without incident. As a Boston Globe columnist noted: “You can be a vigilante when your mission is to serve the system.”
Much has been made of the judge’s rulings during the trial. For the most part, I concur. Yet there is one aspect that I have to agree with him. The fact that Rittenhouse had not made public comment before the trial should not have mattered. Moreover, when the prosecution suggested that this was an issue, and the judge reprimanded the state on Fifth Amendment grounds, it hurt the case. It was prosecutorial ineptness.
In this blog back in 2014, I wrote: “If I am ever in a situation that would involve the criminal justice system – whether as the victim and/or witness or defendant – I will not comment on what I might testify about until the trial is over. I won’t talk about it, and I certainly won’t blog about it.”
Very few things irritate me more while watching the news than having Lester Holt, or whomever, saying, “X is breaking their silence.” It’s as though talking about testimony to the press before the trial is what one is SUPPOSED to do. I do not buy it.
As a practical matter, shutting up is probably better. Alec Baldwin spoke after the shooting death of the cinematographer for the movie Rust. When he talked about how well-run the set operated, he may have made himself vulnerable to civil liability.
With God on his side
It fascinates me that the two folks on my Facebook feed who clearly supported the outcome put it in a Christian context. My old neighbor Greg says the verdict was “Absolutely beautiful totally innocent! 100% self-defense.” He bashed the “bleeding hearts”, and ends with “so good for Kyle excellent praise God.”
As someone who has been reading a lot of the Old Testament recently, there’s a lot of stories of the people of Israel preparing to invade other folks. Start with Joshua 1, for instance.
But this is not the Christian theology I believe in. I’m more of a Colossians 3:12 kind of guy. “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” That would mean, in my mind, not becoming a Stand Your Ground provocateur.
The American West is running out of water—and Big Oil, of all things, can help fix it.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: PFAS and Voting Rights. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuf1m1VGu8Y Call Your Senator to Support the Equality Act
I saw the stories about the Facebook outage but kept reading it as the Facebook outrage. How Facebook’s Response To Whistleblower Could Make Their Crisis Worse. Incidentally, when Facebook was down, I went to Is It Down Right Now but it TOO was down. I ended up using Down For Everyone or Just Me and Is Your Website Down Down Right Now?
Albany Med prize winners: Coronavirus vaccine was years in the making.
Cognitive Bias Is Influencing Forensic Pathology Decisions
I had gone to the dentist this month to get a tooth uncapped because a cavity developed. It is one of those things that might have been prevented but for COVID. Anyway, they said, “We’re going to do an impression.” I knew what they meant, but my mind wandered to Rich Little doing John Wayne or Richard Nixon.
More Empathy Means Better Care, Less Medical Liability.
A Gene-Editing Experiment Let These Patients With Vision Loss See Color Again.
People with vitiligo debate whether to treat or embrace their condition
Race in America
Calls to Ban Books by Black Authors Are Increasing Amid Critical Race Theory Debates
Meet The First 2 Black Women To Be Inducted Into The National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Bruice’s Beach in California can return to descendants of a Black family in a landmark move.
Byzantium Shores, no. ForgottenStars, si!
I’ve been following Jaquandor at Byzantium Shores for well over a decade. He’s another upstater from the other end of the Erie Canal. His birthday is 45 years to the day after my late father’s.
He started blogging in 2002, over three years before I did. Eventually, he’s let the pseudonym go. Now Kelly Sedinger is blogging at ForgottenStars.net, where he promotes his books, two of which I have. He knows a ton about classical music, many of which I have linked to. I don’t quite get the pie in the face thing, but that’s OK.