All Articles Tagged "african american"
Zora Neale Hurston once wrote with characteristic irony that she thought she was “the only Negro in the United States whose grandfather on the mother’s side was not an Indian chief.” Like most African Americans I’ve interviewed, I was raised believing that one of my great-great grandmothers was all or part Native American, with “high cheekbones and straight black hair.”
In my family, this was gospel. No one even thought about the possibility that it might not be true, since—sure enough—there were plenty of people on my family tree, as family photos attested about those who had passed, who did in fact have those proverbial and much-valued cheekbones and some variation of that long and silky straight black hair. What struck me about our mysterious Native American ancestry, even as a child, was how very important it was to my mother’s 11 siblings, and how just as important it was to my dozens of cousins.
Being “part Indian” was a much discussed and much bragged about aspect of the Coleman family’s collective identity, even if no one was certain when or how these American Indians had entered our family tree, where they had mated with our black ancestors or from what tribe they hailed. I once asked my Uncle David, our meticulous family historian, what tribe we should tell people we were part of. “Cherokee,” he replied, as if self-evident. When I pointed out that the Cherokee lived in what is now Georgia, the Carolinas and East Tennessee, my uncle responded, unflappably, “That’s right—it was the Iroquois.”
I admire a person who can improvise on his feet. But the problem with that answer is that we happen to be able to trace the various branches of the Coleman family to the middle of the 18th century, and since those ancestors all lived in a 30-mile radius of my hometown of Piedmont, W.Va., the likelihood of one of them being an Iroquois was about as likely as her being a Cherokee (in other words, zip!). Well, we might not know what tribe we came from, but we had ancestors who possessed those cheekbones and that hair, and that—and the strength of family lore—was quite enough.
I wish you could have seen my inbox the morning after the episode of African American Lives aired in 2008, in which we revealed my genetic admixture. To my own surprise, I have to confess, the results showed that I had a surprisingly high amount of European ancestry (50.5 percent) but only 0.8 percent Native American ancestry. (I am 48.2 percent sub-Saharan African.) No one seemed to mind all that white ancestry, but the low level of Native American ancestry caused something of a family crisis. I thought my computer was going to explode. I didn’t realize I had so many cousins who were so deeply committed to being “part Indian.” And the venom those emails contained! These were some very angry cousins.
“Skippy, how could you embarrass our family like that, in front of the nation?” ran one line of attack, while another questioned the accuracy of the tests. “That test is one big fat lie.” After all, Big Mom herself had told us all about her Indian ancestry, and how could “science” be more authoritative than Big Mom, your own grandmother. Boy. Then followed the mountain of photographs of our ancestors that my cousins sent, demonstrating, prima facie, that all you had to do was to look at those faces and that hair to know that that test wasn’t worth a bucket of spit, the same spit geneticists used to analyze your DNA in the first place. You need to correct these aspersions you have cast on our family, Skippy. Right now.
I would soon learn that my cousins’ reactions were typical of the reactions I get all across the country when I lecture about our people’s genetic composition. When I ask black people to raise their hands if they believe they have significant amounts of Native American ancestry, almost everyone raises their hands. Here are the facts, according to geneticists Joanna Mountain and Kasia Bryc at 23andme.com: The average African American is 73 percent sub-Saharan, 24 percent European and only 0.7 percent Native American. So, most of us have quite a lot of European ancestry and very, very little Native American ancestry. And if this Native American DNA came from exactly one ancestor, it surfaced in our family trees quite a long time ago—on average, perhaps as many as 10 generations, or 300 years, ago, which means about 1714. (This date is very important in terms of the numbers of Africans who had even arrived in the United States by then, and I will return to this point when I try to explain why most of us don’t have much Native American ancestry.)
Bottom line? Those high cheekbones and that straight black hair derive from our high proportion of white ancestors and not, for most of us at least, from our mythical Cherokee great-great grandmother. Sorry, folks, but DNA don’t lie.
Read more on TheRoot.com.
Suge Knight is offended when people call him African American, because he’s NOT African. On the other hand, he doesn’t have a problem with the word, “Ni**a.”
Suge says it’s offensive to label all Black people African American. And he goes further … he thinks it’s ridiculous that only rappers can use the word, “Ni**a.” He thinks if it can be used by some, it should be used by all.
Do you agree with Suge Knight? Read on to see the poll on the subject on TMZ.com
Looking for a way to add a little more soul into your wedding?
Black weddings have always had a unique flair. From jumping the broom to pouring libations, there are plenty of wedding ideas to take from. We’re willing to bet that not even African-American history majors know them all. So check out our list for a refresher course on the most popular black wedding traditions.
About This Episode
In this bonus clip of Mommy In Chief, these fathers finish the interesting discussion from the first segment of Ask a Black Father. We posed all of our questions about parenthood to real dads. We’ve welcomed three spirited fathers to share their joys and pains of fatherhood with us. The following questions are addressed in this segment:
1. What are some challenges that you want to talk about that you face when you raise your kids?
2. How is it that some fathers can go through life ignoring their kids as if they don’t exist?
3. What would you like to differently than your father?
Ladies, you definitely don’t want to miss this. When do we ever see great fathers giving us the honest truth about fatherhood?
Want More Mommy In Chief? Watch these episodes:
- Episode 1: Mommy-To-Be: Pregnancy In 3 Stages
- Episode 2: The Truth About Breastfeeding
- Episode 3: Delivery Debate: Natural Birth Vs. C-Section
- Episode 4: The Perfect Mother’s Day Gift
- Episode 5: Actress Kym Whitley Talks New Baby & Food Allergies for Kids
- Episode 6: Keeping Your Child Entertained This Summer Without TV
- Episode 7: Ask a Black Father | Mommy in Chief Father’s Day Special
- Episode 8: Building Your Child’s Self Esteem
- Episode 1: Are You A Good Enough Mother?
- Episode 2: New Motherhood and Balancing A Busy Work Life
- Episode 3: How to Decorate an Eco-Friendly Baby Nursery
- Episode 4: Foodie, Nicole Friday on Kids and Career
- Episode 5: Melissa Beck, From Hollywood to Stay At Home Mom
- Episode 6: Single Mom in The City
- Episode 7: Mommy Mogul and Marketing Wiz Monique Jackson at Home With Her Boys
- Episode 8: Beauty Maven Jodie Patterson Talks Four-Day Work Week for Moms
- Episode 9: Tonya Lewis Lee on Motherhood and the Importance of Women’s Health
- Episode 1: Back 2 School
- Episode 2: Happy Halloween
- Episode 3: Socially Responsible Kids
- Episode 4: Money Talks
- Episode 5: Keeping Families Healthy
- Episode 6: Thanksgiving Madness
- Episode 7: Highlights and Best Moments
- Episode 8: Stylish Moms
- Episode 9: Best Apps for Moms
- Episode 10: Socialite Kids
- Episode 11: Hair Talk with AfroBella
- Episode 12: Happy New Year!
This summer the Smithsonian Folklife Festival will feature a five-year research project entitled “The Will to Adorn: African American Diversity, Style, and Identity.” The project garners its inspiration from urban hubs like Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, New York, Oakland, Calif., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Students and faculty of African-American universities extended their assistance to the Smithsonian staff by helping document the fashion of African Americans through interviews, photographs, and field work.
Here’s what Diana N’Diaye, program curator had to say about the exhibition: “Whether we realize it or not, we are all dress artists…the way we compose our look is a creative expression of our ideas about who we are and who we aspire to be. This program explores the diversity of African American traditions of style, but also teaches young people the importance of documenting their own culture and saving that information for themselves and future generations.”
The program features 40 participants and will occupy three tents, each devoted to different aspects of the program. The Collaborative Research Tent allows visitors to speak with researchers and artisans, the Design Studio Tent will allow visitors to see different fashion styles from different communities and the Rock the Runway Tent will feature fashion shows for visitor to view.
This Smithsonian Folklife Festival will be held Wednesday, June 26 through Sunday, June 30 and Wednesday, July 3 through Sunday July 7 at the National Mall. The events are free and last from 11:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day followed by concerts and dance parties starting at 6 p.m.
The event will also feature two other programs, “Hungarian Heritage: Roots to Revival” and “One World, Many Voices: Endangered Languages and Cultural Heritage.” If you’re in the DC area this sounds like something worth experiencing this summer.
Confession: Believe it or not, the reality of America’s racist past didn’t become real to me until college. (Insert gasp!) And I live in Georgia. (Insert disbelief and head shake.) While I grew up knowing about Martin Luther King Jr.—as my elementary history books glossed over the depths of slavery and segregation in America and presented him as the great savior that made all people get along now—I didn’t know much else. Stories of Malcolm X, W.E.B., and others came across my eyes by way of my mother, but my shallow understanding of racism and my upper middle class status left me thinking racism was a thing of the past that had no real effect on the present or future. Yes, I was downright ignorant.
It wasn’t until I went to college and practically minored in African American Studies (Why didn’t my counselor tell me I was one class away from having that credential?) that I found myself in my dorm room crying as I viewed pictures of lynchings and read articles that addressed racism as an institution whose effects have been deep and wide. America’s veil was torn. I realized that by those stars and stripes, we were not healed. But I was also awakened to the legacies of brave souls like Ida B. Wells, Frederick Douglass, and the countless individuals whose stories haven’t been told but to whom we owe our current freedoms. I’d never been more excited about academia than I was then, because I was discovering my own past. And a sense of responsibility, dignity, pride, and accountability to my ancestors filled my heart. There’s something about knowing scores of individuals either had to fight for or never had the opportunities you currently have (and possibly squander) that inspires greatness.
Seeing Jackie Robinson’s life depicted in “42,” this past weekend did just that. Watching the Major League Baseball player turn the other cheek while being barraged with racial slurs, letting the example of Jesus instruct him in the face of persecution, was nothing short of inspiring. But I couldn’t help but leave the film wondering whether my generation is too far removed to be inspired by such a film. Do these films become mere one-time experiences that have us reflecting for roughly a week but then going on about our business as usual afterward? I might sound like an old timer, but I think we’ve forgotten where we came from. And many young people have no real clue where that even is. We are growing up with a black president — dare we think we have arrived?
As I was also remembering MLK’s assassination on April 4, I couldn’t help but wonder how we’ve gone from a people who fought for our dignity and right to be educated — with our greatest threat coming from outside — to a people whose youth don’t see value in education or one other. Of course this is a generalization of a people of great accomplishment, and I realize that the effects of racism still stain us and affect our betterment, but is our culture headed for doom? Are we stuck on N***a Island? If so, how did we get here and is there any hope for getting off?
While “42″ finds Dodgers’ president Branch Rickey quoting Bible scriptures left and right, what the film doesn’t highlight is that it was Jackie Robinson’s own faith that gave him courage, and it’s what truly made him great. Perhaps that element of our culture has been lost, and we need to get it back. While he is keenly aware that there are no quick fixes to the many issues that plague African Americans, Sho Baraka (an artist whose Talented Xth album draws from W.E.B. DuBois’ work on how black culture can be uplifted), believes the decreasing importance of the black church has played a role in our decline. “I don’t believe the church is a important as it once was. Mainly because of the lack of a universal Black problem. Once Black people could comfortably live in suburbs with whites, their problems changed and we no longer have a common struggle.” Well, we know what Frederick Douglass had to say about that: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”
Am I saying we need to enter back into the chains of racial degradation? Heck no, we won’t go! But perhaps we have forgotten the lines of those ol’ negro spirituals that sung of our Great Emancipator as we find ourselves floating in that vast ocean of material prosperity MLK spoke of — unaware that we are headed towards a fool’s paradise. And our youth are paying the price. We need to remind ourselves of the struggle and educate our young people on our history. I don’t say that as a passing statement; I believe it plays an integral role in combating our current trajectory. We are as grateful for what we have today as we are cognizant of what we didn’t have the days before. We must remind them, because it will give them hope to become more. And we need them to have this hope because if “there ain’t no hope for our youth, then the truth is there ain’t hope for the future,” as 2pac so eloquently told us. They need to know that while entertainment and athletics are worthy arenas to aspire to thrive in, they can be more than rappers and athletes. They can be leaders and role models.
Jackie Robinson breaking into major league baseball is much more than a story of athletic prowess. It is a story of claiming and maintaining one’s dignity and having the guts to fight not with carnal, but divine weaponry. We must embark on that same fight for our people’s dignity. We owe it to those before us and behind us, and we owe it to ourselves. But most importantly, we owe it to the God who created us all equal.
Oprah Winfrey sits down with Oscar-winning actress Jane Fonda and her adopted African-American daughter Mary Williams for their first-ever interview together on “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” airing Sunday, April 7 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on OWN.
Williams grew up in Oakland as a member of the Black Panther Party, as chronicled in her recently released memoir The Lost Daughter. Williams was one of six children raised by a single mother after Mary’s father was sent to prison. At age 13, Mary was invited to attend the Laurel Springs Children’s Camp run by Jane Fonda and her then-husband, Tom Hayden. There, her bond with Jane grew strong. One year later, Jane invited Mary to live with her in Santa Monica, California.
Get more details on EurWeb.com.
Is there a leadership crisis in black America? A new poll suggests African-Americans think so.
The poll was commissioned by BET founder Robert L. Johnson, also the chairman of The RLJ Companies, and was released by Zogby Analytics. And the results are shocking.
According to the online survey of 1,002 African-Americans, when asked the question “Which of the following speaks for you most often?” 40 percent said that no one speaks for them, while 24 percent said the Reverend Al Sharpton of the National Action Network and MSNBC speaks for black people, and 11 percent said the Reverend Jesse Jackson of Rainbow PUSH.
Meanwhile, 9 percent of black respondents named Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D‐CA), 8 percent said NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous speaks for them, and 5 percent mentioned Assistant Democratic Leader, Congressman James E. Clyburn (D‐SC). Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League, and former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele each received 2 percent.
Read more on TheGrio.com.
Doing It For Ourselves: Alchemy Networks Partners With YouTube To Bring Online African-American Programming
Maybe African-Americans in Hollywood are slowly learning that if no one will give us the “green light” for programming we’d like to see, we have to start doing it for ourselves.
Enter Alchemy Networks. The new channel which joined forces with YouTube in December, was founded by media veteran Peter Griffith and will center around urban lifestyle and celebrity entertainment. It will also feature original programming.
Griffith told Lee Bailey of EURweb that they’re not interested in being the biggest channel but instead, they want to be the best within every market they target. In fact, they didn’t just “sign on” with YouTube when they came to the table with their ideas. Griffith, along with his partners Alvin Williams, Anthony Maddox ad Xothil Arkin, came up with their own plan, took it back to YouTube and hoped they were still on board:
“What we told them was ‘We’re not the same.’ Let us come back to them and tell what we thought was the best way to approach this community,” he recalled. “And we came to them and said ‘Look. What we’d like to do is develop not just one channel, but several channels that target different demographics of the African-American community.”
Luckily, YouTube jumped aboard. So far, they have two premium channels: Kaleidoscope, which targets 18-34 year olds with a focus on music, gossip and entertainment as well as FWD, launching this month, which targets 25-54 year olds with a focus on the same but also including beauty and fashion.
Kandi Burruss is the first celebrity to sign on with the network. Her new show, Kandi & Friends, will debut later this month. There’s been no word if it’ll be similar to her own show Kandi Koated Nights but it will feature some of her celebrity friends.
Alchemy, to date, boasts one million views per week and has 900,000 subscribers.
Hopefully, with the formation of Alchemy Networks and other independent online shows, we will see more programming that we’ve longed for. Over time, who knows? It might even filter onto actual television stations.
Will you check out Alchemy channels on YouTube?
People of color, we have such thick skin given all we’ve endured throughout history, but we actually have some of the most sensitive skin in the world. Any little thing we do to our skin can cause it to overreact and kick drive its melanin production in what we see on the surface as hyperpigmentation or “dark spots.” And then there’s the raising of the skin known as a keloid.
With so much advancement in dermatology for those of us with more melanin in our skin, there are still some things we need to be cautious about to avoid making a bad situation worse. We sat down for a quick chat with Dr. Michael E. Jones—a cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon Board Certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery—for a little briefing on what causes keloids and what we can do to treat them.
Check out the Q&A on StyleBlazer.com.