Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Evelings

So it looks like President Obama's white mother might have been descended from the first black slave in America, John Punch.


According to Ancestry.com's press release


“Two of the most historically significant African Americans in the history of our country are amazingly directly related,” said Ancestry.com genealogist Joseph Shumway. “John Punch was more than likely the genesis of legalized slavery in America.  But after centuries of suffering, the Civil War, and decades of civil rights efforts, his 11th great-grandson became the leader of the free world and the ultimate realization of the American Dream.”


I'm fascinated with genealogy and physical anthropology and, more so as I'm settling into middle age, American history.  I love Finding Your Roots on PBS.  President Obama should go on that show.  Get his ratings up right before the election.  Although it is PBS.  His opponents would accuse him of supporting public broadcasting, a socialist institution.


So this story of President Obama's heritage interests me.  But I think it's funny how we categorize people.  We call President Obama our first African American president.  But he's also European American on his mom's side.  And African American.  Why don't we call him our first biracial president?  


Or why bother with race anyway?  It's an outdated, divisive, inaccurate social construct.  


If you're a fan of the Bible, then you believe we're all related to Adam and Eve.  If you're a fan of science, you understand that we all evolve from Mitochondrial Eve.  If we all can trace our ancestry to one woman who lived in Africa 200,000 years ago, that means all citizens of the United States are African American, no matter what color our skin.


Why don't we just call ourselves Earthlings?  Maybe because Earthling sounds like science fiction jargon.  We need a new word.  A good word to describe us, humans who inhabit the planet.  Who come from Eve, Biblical and/or Mitochondrial.  Evelings.  That's it.  That's what we are.