All Articles Tagged "black"

I’m Blacker Than I Thought …But I Still Have White Cousins: My Ancestry Story

April 24th, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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i'm blacker than I thought

Me in Ghana, in various locations in 2008-2009.

I always thought my parents were a little too militant. While most kids my age were watching Disney movies and ABC family specials, my parents had us watching “Eyes On The Prize” documentaries and Roots. People could tell from the soul music blaring from our house to the Indiana Black Expo license plates, to the big, black furry dog that scared the neighbors when he got loose, we were the Black and Proud family. No question.

So imagine my surprise when one day, as a middle schooler, I asked my dad if he would be interested in tracing our family history and he said, flat out “No.” I was floored to say the least. Mr. Blackety Black himself didn’t want to know about his own, personal black history? I really couldn’t understand it and I tried prodding my dad for reasons why. But his only response was, “I just don’t want to know.”

Well, I did. And so I continued my search. I say continued because from the time I was able to ask questions and comprehend I was unofficially collecting my family history. I’d spend hours with my grandmother asking about her life. I was the kid who went through family photo albums knowing I didn’t know 75 percent of the people in them. When I’d go over to my grandfather’s house, I’d search through his drawers looking for clues to…something. I found a marble once. My search even became supernatural at some point. My paternal grandfather died shortly after I was born and I remember always wanting to be able to have known him and I’d stand in the mirror, looking for traces of his face in mine or hoping that he’d send some type of message. I was thirsty for answers.

By the time I got to college, everyone kept telling me that I needed to be sure to study abroad before I left. Like most college students, I didn’t have a lot of disposable income. Honestly, it was a struggle to just figure out my tuition let alone a trip across seas. But I decided to make it happen some way or another. And there was no doubt in my mind that if I were going to go anywhere, it would have to be some place, some country in Africa. During my junior year I learned of an opportunity to spend two weeks in Ghana. The two week time span was a bit more budget friendly and I literally jumped at the opportunity. The time I spent there the end of 2008-2009 was marvelous, to say the least but we’ll get to that later. When we left the country, my professor, who went with us, told us that the lessons we learned there would reveal themselves in time. I didn’t know realize how right he was.

So flash forward to this year, a few months ago, when Ancestry.com approached the MN editorial team about participating in their DNA project that would be able to tell us which regions our families had come from. As you might guess I was ecstatic. I was so geeked to send in my salvia sample and I wanted to make sure that everything was perfect. A half an hour before I provided my sample, I brushed my teeth so my spit could be fresh. Mistake. Weeks, later after all of my coworkers had received their results, I checked Ancestry.com to find that my results came back inconclusive.

I had to resubmit.

This time I didn’t get cute. And in less than the six weeks, they predicted my results were here. Before I saw the list of the countries, I saw a list of my cousins…the first one a white man from Massachusetts with a young girl, presumably his daughter, sitting in his lap. Ancestry told me that this man was my 3rd or 4th cousin with, get this, 98 percent accuracy. Oh lawd.

Suddenly, it clicked. This is why my dad didn’t want to dig into his ancestry. He didn’t want to be outright confronted with the lighter, more European side of our family, you know, the ones who had more likely than not, forced themselves onto the tree. And my dad knew the white folks were there. There are just too many light complected folk to deny it. Personally, I know the deal. I’m not necessarily happy about it, but I’m not surprised either. It sucks that it happened but it is what it is at this point, white blood flows through our veins. Then I clicked to see how much.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I was 90 whole percent African! And the first country, with 30 percent was Ghana. I’ve never been so happy to see a map in my life. I saw generations of me on that map and I could not stop smiling as I read the names of counties I knew very little about like Senegal, Nigeria, Cameroon, Benin and Togo. Then the 9 percent European, Great Britain was the highest with 6 percent and the rest Italy/Greece, European Jewish and Ireland all had one percent, all of which, with the exception of Great Britain, were surprises. Italian? Jewish? The Irish I have expected…but that’s another long story.

Despite the family lore, I didn’t see not a single drop of Native American, but the same week I got my results, Henry Louis Gates, would write an exceptionally thorough explanation as to why that might have been the case. In short, my ancestors were just like my father, not wanting to acknowledge the whiteness. Native American made for a better, less oppressive story.

I always thought that when I got my ancestry results, the answers that I had been searching for most of my life, that I would be so overcome with emotion that I would weep. But it didn’t happen…right away. I texted my coworker and friend Victoria Uwumarogie and told her what I’d found. The conversation went like this:

Victoria: “So how do you feel about your results?

Me: It’s cray. I’m kinda overwhelmed. I have so much diggin to do now. But I had a feeling I was Ghanaian…A lot of Jamaicans come from there (my maternal side is all Jamaican) and it was so funny Danielle (our Ghanaian coworker) looked at my grandfather’s pic rue and was like ‘Your people are from Ghana he looks just like my dad.’

Victoria: And to think you’ve already visited your homeland :)

And that’s when it hit me. I reflected back on my trip to Ghana, visiting Elmina slave castle, sobbing with my friend at the door of no return while our fellow [white] travelers looked on sympathetically but not feeling it like we were. This was full circle. I thought about how much I loved the music, the beaches, the fashion honey. (Some of thee flyest dresses I own, I bought in Ghana.) I distinctly remember being pleasantly surprised to find the smell of khus khus perfume, the same kind my Jamaican grandmother used to wear. I remember the elders who blessed us. And I never could forget the one man whose shop I brought from telling me, after noticing my Jamaica shirt, that there was a connection between us. And now, with my results, I knew his words were true. I felt it and I came back home telling my family, especially my mom that we were Ghanaian. But DNA makes it, for lack of a better phrase, hella real. Though I know I have so much more to learn about myself, (They don’t know it yet but my parents, will be taking this test.) but this information is the first really big, really significant piece of the puzzle I’ve been trying to put together my whole life.

 

Breaking Stereotypes: Illinois High School Students Get Suave In ‘Suit And Tie’ Video

April 17th, 2014 - By Madame Noire
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YouTube

YouTube

 

From StyleBlazer 

If there’s anything that’s been made clear over the past two decades, it’s that there is a general perception of black men that’s not accurate. Hip Hop culture and pure ignorance has fueled the fire that pigeonholes many young men.

To defy these stereotypes 34 juniors and seniors from Illinois’ Central High School created a music video –of sorts– wearing their best slacks and button-ups. The gentlemen walk the halls of their school, shoot hoops and chat it up in the classroom all to Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie” record.

Best part: They’re all Honor Roll students, poets, future collegiate athletes and National Honor Society members.

Read more about these students at StyleBlazer.com 

Comfy Much? Madonna Calls Her Son N-word On Instagram & Then Gets Mad At Critics!

January 19th, 2014 - By Drenna Armstrong
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"Madonna Son"

Instagram

Late Friday night, the pop icon known as Madonna was feeling proud of her 13-year-old son Rocco and his MMA-style workout so she posted a picture of him on Instagram.  Many parents are proud of their kids, right? Right. But the problem with her picture was the caption:

"Madonna Pic"

Instagram

If you’re having trouble seeing it, the caption reads: “No one messes with Dirty Soap. Mama said knock you out! #dis[n-word]

Her comments section immediately blew up, both with people criticizing her use of the word as well as people defending her use of the word.  Well, it all seemed to annoy Madonna so she took down the original picture but put it back up with a new caption that said:

“Ok let me start this again. #get off my dick haters!”

Hmm. So people who are criticizing you for using what many consider a racial slur are now your haters? That’s an interesting way of seeing things.

But of course, as all things go when celebrities find themselves in major hot water, she then took that picture down too and  according to Hip Hop Wired, she apologized for it all on Saturday:

“I am sorry if I offended anyone with my use of the N-word on Instagram. It was not meant as a racial slur…I am not a racist. There’s no way to defend the use of the word. It was all about intention…It was used as a term of endearment toward my son who is white.  I appreciate that it’s a provocative word and I apologize if it gave people the wrong impression. Forgive me.”

Be clear: Madonna is not apologizing for using the word, she’s apologizing to anyone who may have been offended by her using the word. This is obviously something  she says on a regular basis under the guise of it being a “term of endearment.”

Madonna is also the mother of two black children and many immediately questioned how she speaks around them.

Here’s thing: If you’re going to say something, stand by it. There’s no way Madonna didn’t know that her posting that word would start this type of uproar.  If you’re bold enough to use it, then be bold enough to stick by it and keep it up.  Apologies are unnecessary when they’re empty and not truly sincere.

What do you think? Is Madonna wrong for using the n-word or is it okay for everybody to use it freely?

Get To Know Lupita Nyong’o’s: Actress Talks Albinism, Acting & Learning To Be Black

October 25th, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: YouTube

Source: YouTube

If you’ve had the pleasure of seeing 12 Years A Slave, you’ve seen Lupita Nyong’o (pronounced lew-PEET-tuh en-YON-go– thanks Slate.) but we doubt you know a bit of her backstory. Luckily, the Kenyan born actress sat down with Vogue to discuss a multitude of topics, including how she came to acting, her documentary about albinism, In My Genes and how she had to learn to see herself as black in America. The woman is physically stunning but her opinions and experiences are interesting and engaging as well. I found myself hanging on her every word in the video. Check out a few excerpts from the video below.

How she fell in love with acting

“I remember wanting to be an actor from the age of like 5. My family was really performative. We used to perform at family gatherings and stuff. But what actually did it for me was watching The Color Purple. When I saw Whoopi Goldberg and she looked like me. And I was like ‘Oh, I could do this.’ I could do this for a living.’ And that’s when I feel it really became a bug.

On her albinism documentary and learning to consider herself black 

For my undergrad, I studied film studies and African studies as well. And I wanted to make a documentary because I had never tried to do a thing like that at school. And the subject that I chose was albinism in Kenya because I knew a person with albinism and I didn’t know anything about her experience. And I found myself feeling shame for not understanding someone that I considered to be my friend. And albinism in particular was an interesting subject because they’re the one group of people that unify all races. Having come to the United States was the first time that I really had to consider myself as being black and to learn what my race meant. Because race is such an important part of understanding American society.

Her role in 12 Years A Slave

One of the reasons why I enjoy acting is because it gives me a chance to experience circumstances and lives that I would otherwise not have the opportunity to experience. I enjoy being able to take on different social, economic and cultural backgrounds. So when I was given this opportunity to play this woman, a slave from a time that really is not part of my everyday life, it was such a gift as an actor to be able to lend myself to that kind of story.

Do yourself a favor and go ahead and watch the video. I know Lupita is far more than a pretty face but we would be remiss if we didn’t mention how utterly flawless she looks in this video. The poise and posture, her insight and beauty radiate eloquence and elegance.

 

Black Wedding Traditions You May Not Have Heard Of

July 23rd, 2013 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: Shutterstock.com

Image Source: Shutterstock.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.

The Biggest N-Bomb Controversies In History

July 16th, 2013 - By Meg Butler
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Image Source: WENN.com

Image Source: WENN.com

We have had a long, tumultuous relationship with the n-word in the United States. And each time a celebrity lets their racism slip publicly, the debate pops up again. Here’s a review of some of the biggest n-bombs in history and what the fallout says about when it is and isn’t OK to use the word.

Is This Fair? Mostly White, All Female Jury Chosen In Zimmerman Murder Trial

June 20th, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
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Getty

Getty

Six women have been chosen for George Zimmerman’s murder trial. Zimmerman is being charged with second degree murder in the killing of unarmed, 17 year old Trayvon Martin.

The trial, which is set to begin Monday, has been highly anticipated since Zimmerman, 28, killed Martin in February of last year.

The issue of race has been at the forefront of this case, so naturally the ethnic makeup of the jury is important to many.

Five members of the six person jury are white and one is Hispanic. Some sources claim the Hispanic woman is half black and half Hispanic.

Zimmerman is white and Hispanic.

The jurors who are also all women, were chosen from hundreds of potential jurors over nine days. These six women will remain sequestered throughout the duration of the trial.

Four alternate jurors, a Hispanic man, a white man and two white women, have also been selected.

We don’t know the identities of the jurors but information about their experiences with guns, crime and violence was discussed during the interview process.

One woman, known as juror B37, said she used to have a concealed weapons permit but let it expire. She said it was too easy to obtain this type of permit.

Two other jurors say their husband or son own guns.

One woman said she was a victim of domestic violence and at least one juror is a mother.

When juror B29 was asked about self defense she had this to say: “It’s not a decision you weigh. It’s a split second reaction. I think everyone is entitled to protect your life.”

Zimmerman told Judge Debra Nelson that he approved of the jury selection.

What do you make of the jury selection? Based on what we now know about these jurors, do you believe they’ll be able to come to just verdict?

Source

Video Of Black Teens Rapping About Oral With Other Men Goes Viral, Radio Host Blames Single Mothers

June 17th, 2013 - By Madame Noire
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black teens rapping

From BlackVoices

Tommy Sotomayor, an Atlanta-based radio host and YouTuber recently took to his YouTube account and made shocking accusations about black women, young gay men and the black community.

A video of a group of teenage boys rapping about oral sex has surfaced on the internet. In that clip, the teenagers offer striking and explicit detail about having oral sex with men.

As Clutch Magazine points out, Sotomayor used the video and the teenage boys as an example to blame single black women for young gay men and to state that black women have failed.

“I want to say this before I start off: I have no problem with a person’s sεxual orientation or a person’s want or need for sεxual experimentation,” he said. “Now with that said, these boys are the reason why we need to stop claiming that black children don’t need their fathers.”

He then added that single black mothers oftentimes take credit for rearing noteworthy children, but they blame absent fathers when the children experience challenges. He also goes on to claim that the black race has become androgynous and claimed that black women have failed.

Read more and watch the disturbing video on BlackVoices.com.

“Gay Is The New Black”: Youth Poets Tackle Intersectionality Between Black & LGBTQ Communities

March 5th, 2013 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: YouTube.com

Source: YouTube.com

There are some who say gay rights are the Civil Rights’ issue of our time. And there are some blacks who say that the rights the LGBTQ community are fighting for are nothing compared to the rights blacks fought for in the ’50’s and ’60’s and are still fighting for today. Each side is saying it’s not the same. We had it harder.

Well, in Youth Speaks’ annual slam poetry competition, “Brave New Voices,” two young women Shanita Jackson and Dakota Odur addressed this issue in their dynamic, tear inducing poem “Gay Is The New Black.” The poem was performed in last year’s competition but in the past day or so it’s started circulating around on the internet.

Check it out on the next page.

Hmmm: Kerry Washington Says She Wouldn’t Have Done ‘Scandal’ If The President Was Black

February 8th, 2013 - By Brande Victorian
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

You’re likely still on your high from watching last night’s episode of “Scandal,” and though I think we’ve all come to adore Oliva and Fitz’s relationship — his marriage aside — have you ever thought about what that romance would look like if the president was black?

Kerry Washington has, and in fact, she said that if the president’s character in the ABC drama was African American she wouldn’t have done the show. Surprised? Check out her explanation in the latest issue of Ebony:

“I was a little concerned because [the character has] a scandalous relationship with the [occupant of the] White House,” she told the magazine. “I thought, ‘If the president on the show is Black, I will not do the show.’ Because to me, it was too important a moment. I didn’t want to do anything that compromised my relationship with the [President] or that made it seem like I had an insider view on the Obama presidency. I thought that would be so disrespectful and so against all the work that I had done.”

Before you jump on the “Kerry just wanted to get her swirl on, on screen,” bandwagon, I think that actually would have been a good call. Rarely, if ever, can I recall seeing a Black man playing the part of a president in a blockbuster movie or prominent television drama. With all the dirt people continuously try to uncover on the Obamas — to no avail — because they’re still not comfortable seeing a sensible African American family with so much power, I can only imagine the increased speculation that would follow them were there a scandalous portrayal of a Black president on TV as well. And I think I speak for all “Scandal” fans when I say thank God Fitzgerald Grant isn’t Black, otherwise we wouldn’t get to witness Kerry Washington’s fierceness every week.

What do you think about Kerry’s stance on wanting Fitz to not be Black?