Sleeping Dogs

The other day, I read an article in a major U.S. newspaper about one family’s experience with DNA tests. I think it’s great people want to discover their heritage, but frankly, I don’t trust the accuracy. My father was tested and the result was the company really couldn’t identify his ancestry, but they concluded he was mostly European. My father is African-American. Then again, given U.S. history, he might well have a good chunk of European ancestry.

Anyway, this story was about two women, sisters, who had the test performed and the result “blew the family apart,” as the paper put it. Here’s what happened, as I understand it. A couple, both white, got married. The wife had an affair with another man, also white, and they produced a daughter. The husband had sexual relations with another woman, who was black, and they produced a daughter. I hesitate to say affair because given the time period and not knowing the circumstances, I can’t be certain the black woman was a willing participant in their relationship.

So not only are these two NOT sisters–completely unrelated–but one is biracial. Well, that just fucked up their minds for a while. After a lot of soul-searching, they’re working on figuring out their new relationship.

A friend read the article and asked what I thought. My first reaction was the two women should have just let sleeping dogs lie. But that’s not really fair. They didn’t know, and that’s why they wanted to find out.… Continue reading

Fifty Shades of Black

The other day, my sister and I had a conversation during which the maelstrom of emotional confusion which I’d endured for decades, unexpectedly crystallized.

Before I begin, please note that my remarks are my own, told from my point of view. Others might have a different point of view. Their views are no more or less valid than mine, but this is what I saw and experienced.

First, a little background. There are no photos of me on this site (at least I don’t recall any) but I’m black. I grew up in the late ’60s and ’70s. The gains made by the protests of the Civil Rights Movement were showing fruit–black people, at least in the cities, were more secure, especially with respect to property ownership. Thus empowered, black people began forging a new identity, fueled by the energy of the revolutionary fervor that was sweeping the nation’s young people, expressed by the Vietnam War protests and the like. Black people had firebrands like Angela Davis who forcefully spoke out against the white establishment’s racism and exhorted black people to fight back. Then there were the Black Panthers, a peaceful organization founded to help the black poor and disenfranchised in the cities (the Panthers only later became militant after attacks by the white city police), and many others. Black power, characterized by the black upraised fist, was a gesture of defiance against the whites who had oppressed us for so long (and which scared the bejesus out of them,… Continue reading