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"I Got Indian In My Family" - Not Likely

Thursday, April 9, 2009


African American studies scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. did an expansive study a few years ago (broadcast repeatedly on PBS) about black Americans' roots in Africa. It included footage from a number of black luminaries including Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey, Tina Turner, Don Cheadle, Chris Rock, etc., and followed their genes to remote African villages, places where there ancestors came from. It was astonishing, but what was more astonishing was the fact that Gates' studies (In PBS' four-hour mini-series "African American Lives 2") totally refuted the oft-repeated claim that many of us have Indian in our family. According to Gates, most of us don't. The overwhelming majority, according to him.
Almost to a man, the people who had there DNA tested said the same basic thing: They all had faint visions of their great-grandmother "with straight white hair," and prominent Indian features.
I too share those faint visions.
One of the reviewers of Gates' DVD says: Can you imagine having been certain all your life that you were African-American and part Indian only to find out that you are actually more white than you are either of the other two strains of humanity?
Whoa. Heady stuff.
Turns out alot of African-Americans have European ancestry woven into them, and no wonder, having been intertwined with them for the past 400 years. The Indian thing probably adds some mystique to the racial palette, I assume. And it's all good, but Gates' research doesn't necessarily back it all up.

5 comments:

Emeritus said...

As an African woman, it always kills me when I hear some African American girls say they got Indian in them. I am secretly LMAO on the inside.

What continually astonishes me however, is that almost all African Americans are mixed with white. I don't know why that surprises me but it does. I mean, AAs look so different from Whites, and not just in skin color. Like features and stuff. However, it def does explain why so many AAs look totally diff from Africans.

April 10, 2009 at 2:17 PM
Craigjc said...

Emeritus, you are so right.

April 10, 2009 at 2:54 PM
Assertive Wit said...

I told someone the other day that the farther back my family goes, mysteriously, we look lighter and brighter LOL

Of course the person I was talking to looked shocked and appalled like I had just ran their dog over but it is what it is. The reality is, a lot of people have far more White ancestors than Indian. But if it helps folks sleep at night, I guess they'd rather believe otherwise LOL

April 10, 2009 at 3:02 PM
Craigjc said...

assertive wit: So true, but why is identifying with Indians so attractive? Is there a hidden vanity of some sort?

April 10, 2009 at 3:39 PM
Assertive Wit said...

dude, I have no idea...people are stupid? LOL (I meant that question mark too)

April 10, 2009 at 4:36 PM
 

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