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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Mother of Us All

I feel uncomfortable saying this, but, as a male of recent African ancestry and also a mongrel, as the haters would describe me, and aging, too, this state of being among the lowest of the low in American society nevertheless has its advantages. One is that, unlike the majority of people in this country, I can easily accept almost anything that anyone can find to say about my ancestry, immediate or ancient, intended as a slur or otherwise.

I was reminded of this by a memorable scene from a movie that Guy Andrew Hall praised not long ago in his weblog, "Rook's Rant." I remembered that I had inherited from my son a commercial video of that gangster film, which has the unlikely title "True Romance." The scene is between two of the most interesting actors I know of, Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper, both of them masters of their grooves -- in which they may feel they are typecast, though I think differently.

Walken plays a mafioso chief trying, along with his henchmen, to pry some information out of the crusty former police officer played by Hopper. After being slapped around and feeling certain that he will not get out of this alive, Hopper decides he will leave with satisfaction. To that end he goads Walken and his henchmen to the very marrow by telling them that Sicily was once in the hands of Moors, which meant that they, like all Sicilians, had "niggers" for ancestors. After Walken pretends to get a good laugh out of this, he quickly and furiously fires a bullet into the Hopper character's brain.

In former times and maybe still today, some so-called "black" people had enough European ancestry to allow them to live under the guise of being "white," in the phenomenon called "passing." This was based on the notion that a single drop of "black" blood was far more potent that dozens of drops of "white." (You would think that if white was so superior, it would be exactly the opposite, but never mind. Logic and bigotry have no relation to each other.) Rainbows (my substitute term for "black") take great glee in speculating on how, because of passing as practiced for several centuries now, there are legions among the majority group who, unknown to them, have various amounts of the despised blood coursing through their veins.

That likelihood doesn't do much for me but I will tell you what does.

The Discovery Channel has a very interesting program called "The Real Eve," narrated by Danny Glover. And in this presentation they say that examinations of mitochondrial DNA have led scientists to conclude that the whole of mankind can be traced back a couple of hundred thousand years to a single woman in Africa. Her descendants left Ethiopia by wading through some body of water, maybe the Red Sea, when some part of it was narrow enough and shallow enough to allow that, over into Asia, and they and their descendants then wandered eastward and then northward and then westward again, eventually reaching all the lands of the globe and along the way changing into all the other "racial" groups that we see today.

I love this notion that we all derived from this single African woman, as transmitted through those several bands of Brothers and Sisters trekking all over the planet and meanwhile mutating as they went. Something in my marrow or maybe my racial memory tells me that that is exactly what happened.

You, too, might see how that idea is entirely possible, if you take the trouble to look over any large assemblage of presentday so-called American "black" people, and if you are not wedded to the idea that they all look alike. Instead most likely you will note an almost bewildering array of different facial configurations and tints. That is what led me to prefer using the term "Rainbows," which is far more accurate than "black," or "white."

One of the scientists on the program said that, to show how easily this could have happened, without intermarriage and left entirely to their own devices, it "only" takes 20,000 years for a "black" group to become completely "white."

With intermarriage my own family might give you the impression that it takes considerably less.


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