Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Little Bit Of Black, And A Little Bit Of White In All Of Us, So It Seems

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — For years, varied and sometimes wild claims have been made about the origins of a group of dark-skinned Appalachian residents once known derisively as the Melungeons. Some speculated they were descended from Portuguese explorers, or perhaps from Turkish slaves or Gypsies.

Now a new DNA study in the Journal of Genetic Genealogy attempts to separate truth from oral tradition and wishful thinking. The study found the truth to be somewhat less exotic: Genetic evidence shows that the families historically called Melungeons are the offspring of sub-Saharan African men and white women of northern or central European origin.

And that report, which was published in April in the peer-reviewed journal, doesn't sit comfortably with some people who claim Melungeon ancestry.

This story reminds me of the PBS series hosted by Harvard professor Henry Lewis Gates, Jr. that traces the ancestral history of black Americans. I think the most interesting thing that all of the people learned, as did I, was that the majority of the participants had no idea they had as much European white ancestry roots, primarily from a white woman. Of course, as my daughter likes to say, we all came from Africa, it's where life started on this planet!


Arno said...

Being originally from upper East Tennessee, I have known and come into contact with several people who claimed Melungeon heritage. To a one, they claimed to be of Portuguese descent ("Porty-gee", as some would pronounce it). My paternal family has some Melungeon lineage. I find it a bit humorous that this has been established and that many of them are disputing the finding. After all, the reason that many of them originally claimed to be Portuguese was to escape the laws of the past that heavily discriminated against people with mixed heritage. I wonder if they think less of themselves now, or if they realize that it makes them even more remarkable, and embrace it.

Carrie said...

Isn't history and knowledge of it wonderful? If the nut jobs get their way, we won't have public free education without a slant, we'll get religious, bigoted and life on this planet is only 10,000 years old type of education. There's a reason the nut jobs want us regular people to be stupid ... so they can pillage and rape us, literally and figuratively.