AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum
In Response To: Re: Indian? ()
To M.J. Collier and Rodney Sam et al:
It is so interesting the question of race especially as defined by census and for many of us that is all we have to go on. I do know however that some of my known bi-racial relatives were listed simply as black on one census, then later mulatto, colored and back to black. I've seen one family pass for white by following them through the census paper trails which saddened me; the census before that they were actually described by the word "paupers" and said to be "living in the poor house." However, and this may be a cross post more in line with the DNA forum but through my series of DNA tests I believe some people of color definitely made the calculated choice also to pass for black. I say this because apart from my strong southeastern African ancestry I have secondary admixture that is Portuguese, Spanish, Moroccan and East Indian (as in the Indian continent). This all shocked me I was always told we were African (I took an educated guess that meant West African), English/Irish (and with the planter culture that made sense) and Cherokee (with geography that made sense too). My family's surname change I found recently shocked me but then yesterday I realized my Grandma and Great Grandma had also changed their given names from a popular Portuguese name and Anglacized it so it looked more generic American. They both had the same name but I never knew it because they selected two different given names for themselves. I've also read about(East)Indians described in runaway slave ads in details that makes it clear that they too were enslaved here, though in much smaller numbers. In terms of the Cherokee I am a close observer of people and I always noticed how my Grandmother would falter before saying we're Cherokee, like she was thinking over what to say to me. Perhaps she realized I wouldn't have ever heard of any of the recognized Virginian tribes as a girl and Cherokee is a large power house--a force, not a tiny unrecognized tribe. She was clearly very mixed and I asked her about the mixture also producing a pause. She loved saying Irish and Black but when she said she was part Portuguese it was only once but it resonated as the truth just by looking at her features. It seems as though people of color some Portuguese, Spanish, Caribbean, Arab/Muslim and Indian extraction just went for black--that is how our country works, a few well defined colors to choose from. Though we had our troubles by the bucket load as black people we were and still are a force to be reckoned with much larger than these smaller olive skinned and brown colored groups, displaced in America. Because of the combined effects of my DNA tests and the genealogical work I've been re-examining who I am ethnically, facing the facts so to speak, though I know who I am culturally--African American.
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