Monday, July 25, 2005

DNA, Genetics and Reparations

Today, the NYTimes published an article about Afrikans in Amerikkka making our DNA connections to Africa (see http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/25/science/25genes.html?pagewanted=1) it is interesting how *white* researchers discourage this research as if bragging about their ancestors being "aboard the Mayflower" isn't in the same category. I believe whites are afraid of this research for two fundamental reasons: 1) it may raise the frightening possibility that they have Afrikan ancestry and 2) if links can be made between their ancestors and our enslaved ancestor, heir property, inherited wealth and reparations may be the next step in seeking justice for the TransAtlantic Slave Trade.

When I taught at Fisk there was ample evidence that a very powerful elected official had Afrikan ancestry and he was terrified that such information would be made public and would lose him votes among his racist supporters. It's somewhat akin to Dave Chappelle's skit about the blind "white" supremacist who finds out he is Black and what it does to him and his relationships.

I encourage *all* Afrikans to get such testing done. You can find out more information about this at africanancestry.com which it the best place to have your DNA tested. I did, and found out that on my mother's side I have genetic links with the Tikar People of Cameroon and on my father's side with the Bubi People of Equatorial Guinea. Both groups were violently opposed to enslavement and were known for fomenting slave rebellions when/if they were captured. I am proud to carry on the tradition with the work I do in reparations...

6 comments:

  1. Anonymous1:59 PM

    Your work is magnificent and greatly appreciated. Thank you for sharing information and links for others to find a path toward *finding themselves*.

    Peace

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  2. Thank you for your kind words...

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  3. Anonymous10:47 PM

    Have reservations about doing this testing. I wonder if it will get in the way of my feeling connected to all Black Africans? Imagine what it would be like to find out ones ancestors are from a tribe that helped to round up fellow brethen. On the subject of Africa, what are your thoughts on Howard W. French's book, "A Continent for the Taking"?
    GH

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  5. I don't see how genetic testing would disconnect you from the rest of Afrika no more than Europeans feel disconnected from the rest of Europe when they refer to themselves as "Italian", "French" or "German"...they *still* identify as Europeans.

    I think Afrikans in the diaspora must refine their concepts of Afrika and be precise in their analyses. I was in Ghana this past December on a study tour with some of my students from Morgan. I was born on Wednesday so my name there is "Kwaku" among the Akan People and was called that by my fellow Ghanaians. I welcome that, but I also know now that I can now be far more specific and knowledgeable about where my actual origins are --- the Tikar (My Mother) and Bubi (My Father). I am travelling to either Equatorial Guinea or Cameroon late this year to make direct contact with my genetic "family", but I still consider myself *Afrikan* and claim the continent. Again, I just think we should see Afrika in *all* of its diversity and learn as much about it as possible.

    I appeared with French on a panel last summer at the Harlem Book Fair, and enjoy his book *because* there are very few books about Afrika written by Afrikans in the diaspora. We have to be honest and truthful about Afrika and connect its history as well as its current conditions with enslavement, colonialism and exploitation. I think French does that better than other writers I've read.

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  6. Anonymous5:16 AM

    Thanks. I guess one has to go into the process consciously being an African, and not take on the historical tribal and nationalistic animosities that seems so prevasive in Blacks from Africa and throughout the diaspora. GH

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