In some parts of the American South, about 1 out of 8 “white” people have at least one black ancestor.
We’ve always known that some black folks have a white granddad somewhere in the family tree.
Recently I read Clotel, or The President’s Daughter, by William Wells Brown. It’s reputed to be the first novel written by a black American. Brown, a former slave, published it in 1853.
In her foreword to the 1996 edition of Clotel, Dr. Joan Cashin notes: “Historians estimate that perhaps 10 percent of the four million slaves living in the South in 1860 had some white ancestry.”1 Brown extensively documented the well-known inclination of some white male slaveowners to rape their female slaves, and, with some regularity, produce mixed-race children.
We all know a little bit about dominant and recessive genes. Some children of black-and-white parents are very dark-skinned, and some are very light-skinned, and most are somewhere in between. The reality of “passing for white” has been known for centuries.
Now Vox.com has offered a modern, complementary factoid: “…in a lot of the South, about 10 percent of people who identified as white turned out to have African DNA…” Researchers writing recently in the American Journal of Human Genetics used DNA analysis to characterize the ancestry of folks who think of themselves as white.
In South Carolina and Louisiana, about 1 out of 8 self-identified “white” folks have DNA from African-American ancestors.
Detailed DNA analysis showed that the initial white/black unions “…generally occurred in the early 1800s…”
As we all know, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings weren’t the only ones doing it.
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Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2015