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THE CHATTER BOX

 
  
  
  The Chatter Box : Blathering On
  
  
  
 
African-American Lives. by tucsonmike on 8 February 2006 2:27pm
 
This has been on PBS. Part one was last Wed. part two is tonight. Nine prominent African-Americans are discovering their ancestors and then going back farther via DNA to Africa.
It is has been fascinating to watch, for someone who isn't African-American.
 
Re: African-American Lives. by peripatetically on 8 February 2006 7:01pm
 
I enjoyed it a lot, too, Mike. I'm looking forward to tonight's episode.

Isn't this the conclusion tonight? I think only 4 hours total??
 
Re: African-American Lives. by tucsonmike on 9 February 2006 1:48am
 
That's correct Patty. It ends tonight. It has been an interesting series.
That's the thing. Until DNA, an African American had no way of telling which part of Africa they were from. They would have had a vague idea if they could trace a ships manifest and the manifest listed tribe. (Sometimes they did, sometimes they didn't). It turns out, 40% of the slaves brought to Virginia were from the Ibo tribe, (The Niger River Delta in Nigeria, where the Biafran War happened 40 years ago). That seems to have been a historic accident. The slaves brought to South Carolina's coast were mainly from what is now Senegal and Gambia, because they knew how to grow rice. In other words, they were from the same roughly 20 ethnic groups. I suspect, the Virginia importers if they had known how many Ibo they had would have been more careful. Too many from the same group upped the chances of a rebellion. Unlike the Caribbean, it was too easy for slaves to escape in North American and head for the hills, literally, or in the case of Georgia in the early 19th Century, Florida.

I asked my friend Rita if she wanted to to have the test done. She declined. She lived in Ghana at one point and made it clear, she was seen as an American with nothing to do with Africa. It is not as though she could find out she is Yoruba, knock on a door in Lagos and
say, I am your cousin. She sees herself as a citizen of the world and doesn't care to know.
If you are African-American, you also have the issue of, did your own group sell you down the river, literally. It is much more complicated.
Robert Kaplan of the Atlantic traveled to West Africa for one of his books. He was given a tour of a slave museum in Ghana. The tourguide was relieved he is white. She said, African-American women get there, cry and scream. She turned to him and said, "it is their history, not mine."

The point of this? It is very complicated, and for African-Americans, the United States is home, and all Americans have to acknowledge this, groups like the KKK not withstanding.
 



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