Don’t Shake That Family Tree


You know how when you are surfing around on the web and you see a headline or a link to something and you kinda want to click it, but then you go nooo I don’t think that would be a good idea.

Well I keep seeing this thing over and over again about how “Michelle Obama Has White Ancestors”. Like that is some sort of headline news or something so astonishing that there is a whole write up about it.

Now, for me, the reason why I still have never clicked on that link, and probably never will, is because of the direction that sort of article could take. It sounds like some wing nut raving and frothing at the mouth sort of thing. Or it could be some scholarly article, which is annoying because No Duh.

But maybe it is some sort of surprise to people that a Black woman born and raised in the United States has white ancestors. I dunno. I mean there is always that intense interest in the First Lady, so there is that. But really I just don’t get it.


Perhaps there is a level of ignorance that I’m not aware of? Whatever the case, if you are born and raised in the United States and your family has been here anywhere since before, during or after slavery, there is a good chance that white or Black you have a percentage of a bloodline of people that “don’t exactly look like you”.

If that idea bothers you, don’t get one of those genealogy tests, or shake that family tree too hard.

If your family looks homogeneous from the outside, meaning no interracial marriage, adoption etc., you still can’t really tell much just by looking at human beings from the outside.

That is why the concept of “race” is just a social construct that was made up out of thin air. It has absolutely no bearing in science. That is also one of the main reasons racism sucks so much for me. I mean oppress me over something real and not some imagined up figment of someone’s fevered imagination. It is particularly galling.


I am interested in getting one of those genealogy tests. I want that comprehensive one that tells me what area of Africa I came from, down to the tribe. The cost has been prohibitive, but I’ll find a way. It is fascinating. I was watching those shows that Skip Gates does, and he was even able to trace this one person’s journey back to one of three slave ships. The actual ship that was carrying their ancestor from Africa to these shores. Tripped me out.

Not all of us can luck out and get on that show and have a crack team of researchers tracing your family. But so much can be done just on our own with those testing kits. I think it depends on how much you can spend, as well as which place(s) you go to have it done.

Sometimes there is free testing available, because the bottom line is, genealogists need as wide, varied and big a sampling as they can get. Depending on what people they are studying – and the African diaspora is always being studied – and if you catch wind of a call for people to participate free of charge, well even more can be done with less expense. I may have to start a saving for that in additional to my Get Outta Dodge Fund. Hmm…


Mixing and matching is what human beings have been doing since the jump. We are pretty good at it. Some of those mixing and matching have been consensual, some notsomuch. Some pairings were political, some cultural etc you name it over the ages.

To think that there wasn’t any interaction between slave and owner that resulted in offspring is to be willfully ignorant. To not understand that nearly all of those “interactions” were forced, is also to be willfully ignorant.

Some Black people who do go get those tests are surprised by how much or how little the percentage of “African” they have in them. Ditto goes for how much or how little percentage of “Caucasian” they have. Some are surprised to find Spanish, South American, Native American percentages. Some are surprised to find none of those. Sometimes family lore doesn’t jive with the actual results.

I say go for it. If you can. When you can. It is just really great to know. We have lost so much, wouldn’t it be just wonderful to actually FIND something that can never be taken away from you?

New cousins to go visit? A group of people, a tribe, a specific area or country in Africa where you are from? That is actually priceless, which is why I say, one way or another, I’m going to do it.

I say don’t be surprised at whatever results and percentages and what not you discover. Celebrate those things, revel in the information and add yet another piece to your life to help you become a whole and complete person, instead of one of the Lost Souls so very far away from Home.


Of Interest:
Maybe You Didn’t Know
And You Hate ME?

Keep eyes peeled for my next Info on Obamacare post. October 1st is not that far away!

About Awake BW

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5 Responses to Don’t Shake That Family Tree

  1. for us females we can only trace our mothers side, if we want to trace our fathers side we have to get a male family member to take the test. but on the father side that is when u will see the white male ancestors show up, so if u don’t want to see that then just look up the maternal side.

  2. chmjr2 says:

    While not as detailed as the test you wish to take test follows both the mothers and fathers side. It is good for finding family that has tested with It has paid off in some small ways but I am still waiting for the big breakthrough. Enjoyed your post.

    • Awake BW says:

      Thank you! It looks like I might have to do multiple tests to find out everything I want to discover. I do want to know about what exact country in Africa I hail from and what tribe and all that. I am also interested in any details about the journey within America after the middle passage. I’m thinking that might have more on researching documents and so on rather than tracking DNA but I’ll figure it out. Circumstances being harder than most people, I am adopted and don’t have but one familial name (surname) to go on.

      But I’m determined!

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