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Ethnicity

athena1's picture

I wonder sometimes about my ethnicity.

My father's side is very clear - Irish. My great grandfather came from Ireland, and was a founding member of the Memphis Police Department. Grandpa, in hushed tones, told me about how he as a child was taken out to lynch black kids sometimes by his dad and the MPD. Grandaddy was in many ways an evil man, but he was ashamed of that, at least.

Mom grew up on a farm...communally...( this system of land ownership might not make sense if you're not familiar with rural Mississippi) with everyone quite brown, with black hair, some kinky, some straight. I asked my great grandma once "What are we, race-wise?" She said "We were once Cherokee and black. Now we say we're French. Makes life easier." And that was that,

My husband is proud Osceola Cherokee. When we inherited this $10,00 house from his grandma, the whole story was laid out in gruesome newspaper clippings we discovered in a closet.

"MR Baker, Indian, murdered."

Etc

One of my kids has brown skin and straight, dark hair. The other has blond hair and it's kinky curly. I had to have a black neighbor friend teach me how to deal with it (PICKS, not combs or brushes! And you have to braid it, on Hair Day.)

And my hood, which has been 99% black for the last 2 decades (sans the occasional meth cooking bikers and white prostitutes, and then, us, a family who just ain't scared of black neighborhoods), has recently had Latinos move in. And I like them, just like I like my black neighbors.

But I wonder - what am I? Are the native people I come from different ethnically from you who are just a bit browner?

"A quarter jigaboo!"

... my Irish grandad used to laugh at me. And as I pic my daughter's kinky hair, while talking with my Latino friend who lives across the street, and watch my brown kid play in the sun with the other dark kids,none of them having to worry about sunburn, I wonder.

What am I?.

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Comments

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

"What am I?"

American, I'd say. My ancestry is almost entirely Northern European of one sort or another, but I don't give much thought anymore to whether I'm more German, Welsh, or Irish. In my case, it doesn't really matter.

A theatre I work with put on a play about race relations that featured "mixed race" couples, and the conversations resulting from it were pretty amazing to me. Lots of people have ethnic backgrounds like yours these days, and I suspect there will be even more in the future. I kinda hope that this is how we'll finally get over racism here, if we're all part something we don't like, it's going to be a lot harder to maintain such attitudes.

Notorious P.A.T.'s picture
Submitted by Notorious P.A.T. on

I bet a lot of people have something they might not expect in their ethnic ancestry. I saw a television program about people who donated their DNA to a sort of ancestry project, and a very white man from the rural South and a very black woman from the city discovered they were closely related. Maybe some day all the colors will blend together and humankind will chuckle at the fuss once made over it.