Get local news delivered straight to your phone
We can't make City Paper without you
IN “COLOR BLIND” (1/27), Jonetta Rose Barras mentions non-Negro genes entering the African-American bloodlines. Each time, Barras states that the method was (I’m paraphrasing here) “powerful white man applying pressure (physical, financial) to weak black woman resulting in mixed-race children.” The logical consequences of this are 1.) all race-mixing in the African-American gene pool is the result of rape, 2.) all race-mixing in the African-American gene pool is white-black, and 3.) the matrilineal ancestry of all living African-Americans will trace back to Mother Africa.
A quick glance through the entries in the Dictionary of American Negro Biography shows that this is not always the case:
Robert Mara Adger’s mother was a full-blooded Indian; Benjamin Banneker’s mother’s mother was English; Ebenezer Don Carlos Bassett’s mother was from the Shagticoke branch of the Pequot tribe; William Owen Bush’s mother was German; Richard Harvey Cain’s mother was a Cherokee; Daniel Coker’s mother was white; Paul Cuffe’s mother was an Indian; Austin Dabney’s mother was white; John Van Surley De Grasse’s mother was German; Elleanor Eldridge’s mother’s mother was an Indian; Hamtree Harrington’s mother was an Indian; Lemuel Haynes’ mother was white; Ben Hodges’ mother was Mexican; Langston Hughes’ mother’s mother was mixed French-Indian; Huddie Ledbetter’s mother’s mother was a Cherokee; Edmonia Lewis’ mother was a Chippewa; Adam Clayton Powell Sr.’s mother’s mother was an Indian; Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin’s mother was English; Melvin Beaunorus Tolson’s mother was a mixed-breed Cherokee; Edward Christopher Williams’ mother was Irish.
In other words, “white male rapes black female” is not the only way race-mixing occurred. And I hope I’ve shown something that Barras completely ignores—the contribution of the American Indian to the genetic makeup, the facial features, and the skin color of today’s African-Americans.
Capitol Hill, via the Internet