By ANTONIA WILLIAMS GARY
Is anyone in the Trump administration sane? Take this week. Ben Carson suggested that enslaved Africans were just another type of immigrant who, while still on the bottom of the slave ship, dreamed about a future when their offspring might enjoy all the fruits of this glorious new land!
Their revelry, according to Carson’s speculation, continued as they toiled – for free; accepted lower wages after emancipation; and continued as they moved up the ladders of success until, voila, nirvana has been reached – under the current administration.
This was too crazy to pass up before I could get into the matter I had on my mind.
Before the Carson revelation, I have been thinking about the growing movement and attention being paid to mixed race people – as if they have just happened upon us. If you missed it, there is a growing push to identify this cohort of people who are publicly and proudly proclaiming being of mixed race. That includes those who were not begotten from some criminal assault or other undercover mating. These are deliberately mixed race, and therefore, by implication, more acceptable.
The matter is gaining favor in movies: “Loving,” an Oscar nominated film about the Supreme Court’s decision to set aside laws that prevented mixed race marriages in the USA, and “A United Kingdom,” now showing in theaters, about the controversy surrounding an African heir and his British wife. Both are based on true stories.
Then there are actors like Taye Diggs who professes to being pained when folks refer to his mixed race son as black.
And, post-Presidency, Obama’s mixed race heritage is back up for discussion. Reminder: he identifies as black because, I think, he realizes it’s just cooler.
Mixed race has joined the ranks of Transgender, LGBTQ, differently abled, groups, et al., and I won’t be surprised if they begin to seek protections as a minority.
But what of this mixed race business?
A recent study, under the National Institutes of Health, has determined that some black people who are descended from the original slaves have much less DNA from Africa than their European admixture groups.
Entitled: “How Slavery Changed the DNA of African Americans, the study found that “widespread sexual exploitation before the Civil War strongly influenced the genetic make-up of essentially all African Americans alive today.”
The study recognizes that the majority of the DNA in most African Americans comes from African ancestors. But study results show that essentially all African Americans have some European ancestry as well. The implications are especially important for diagnosis and treatment of some medical conditions, and medical science is just catching up.
I think it is generally accepted that couplings between whites and blacks continued after emancipation- whether they were legal or not. Human beings are attracted to mate for mysterious reasons.
So much for the rallying cry about mixed race. We are all mixed up! But what about the social factors of being mixed race?
How much celebration is called for if one parent is white and the other is of color? What color? Black African? African American? Asian? Pacific Islander? Asian? Other?
Does it matter, more or less, if the white parent is the mother, or father? If so, what disparate treatments do the parents/children receive?
Do other countries ask these, or similar questions of its citizens? Or is it only in America that we continue to obsess about race?
I think that the hue and cry is not so much about race anymore. What folk are reluctant to talk about is that we still have an ‘other’ problem in America and until that is resolved and every person is treated equally, we will still have issues disguised as racial classification, class differences and, yes, caste within groups.
The subsequent attempts to erase racial identification markers; dissolve and/or blend the races; or actually eliminate race altogether is just dodging the question.
Our obsession is a disguise about our discomfort about religion, country of origin, language (Spanish is no longer objectionable). You know, those other folk who are not from here and who don’t speak English.
For instance, I am still surprised when I hear so-called black folk complain about immigrants taking away our privileges, and jobs. We have become an entitled group, and I say deservedly so. It’s in our very DNA to avoid toil and labor under any harsh master.
But we have become jaundiced in our outlook.
I know that not one of us will do the menial labor that many new-comers to our country gladly take on – and for such little pay.
And that brings me back to the degree of insanity that the country is grappling with under Trump and his appointments.
To a person, the group has a backward looking point of view. Their notion of “Make America Great Again” harkens back to a time when they were young (is anyone on the cabinet under 60?) when everything was, well, just black and white.
I think I may have to root for the mixed up races after all.