As a historical website, one discussion needs particular attention. In areas of genealogy, we have reached a pinnacle in America that shouldn’t be as ignored as it is. The efforts to diversify the nation have done more to harm and demean ethnic and racial heritages than it has ever helped. Unfortunately, this is such a polarizing topic that it seems it will only continue. Indeed, it seems like today there is something wrong with anyone who is reasonably content with the full spectrum of his or her ethnic background.

Modern society has devoted much attention towards identity thieves who steal financial information, but nothing is said of those ethnic or racial identity thieves who steal the heritage of minorities. We’ve all seen the ethnic “Robin Hood,” figures who want everyone to belong to a certain group, even when they clearly don’t.

As a result, predominantly European-Americans call themselves “Native American,” because a 5th great-grandmother on their father’s side was one-half Cherokee. Such titles should be respected, honored, and reserved for those who know the hardships of reservation life, or whose parents or grandparents overcame such struggles.

DNA studies, which should have provided some kind of clarity, have further clouded the discussion. Today, predominantly European individuals are also calling themselves African-American because misguided, armchair geneticists tell them DNA “proves” it. Sadly, people regarded as “experts” actually appear eager to remove the unique and wonderful histories of so many minority groups.

We already know that all races and ethnic groups can coexist. We’ve done it since time began. Stripping such noble groups of their heritage by giving the same heritage to everyone else is an insult. Such propensities are, in reality, cultural appropriation.

The childish argument that you are “ashamed of your heritage” if you don’t do the same was started by the same breed of people. It is simple decency and respect to allow groups, who have endured such abuse and devastation, to have their own identity.

We need a campaign to reform basic racial awareness and acceptance. This is not done by giving ethnicities away to people who have no idea about the struggles related to them. It is not done by telling people their ancestors overcame the horrors of slavery when they didn’t, and they shouldn’t be given such credit. It isn’t done by pretending your ancestors were on the Trail of Tears because your ancestor in 1687 married a “Cherokee bride,” before settling in a European community.

True diversity and acceptance is when you can accept others, not because you share the same ancestors or even DNA group, but because every group is worthy of respect. Everyone has the right to be proud of his or her heritage because every race and every ethnic group has its own unique history of struggle and triumph.

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4 Comments

  1. Alfred Shumate says:

    I have a Great grandmother eight generations back that was listed in the 1790 Census as Cherokee.That would not put me as a descendant of anyone who walked the trail of tears though I would have some common ancestors with those folks of course so would everyone on earth if you go back far enough.Here is a verse from the Bible that seems to me to suggest that after ten generations your DNA is swamped or basically gone at that point from being overwhelmed by more recent DNA.
    Deuteronomy 23:2  A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD.
    I don’t know if this is so but it appears like I still have a smidgeon of Cherokee in there somehwere provided Elizabeth Moore was a full blood.My great grandkids will finally be unbastardized,I guess?:-)Then again I was born out of wedlock so I”m officially a bastard.I”ll have to tell my daughter and grand kids I am very sorry:-(

    • admin says:

      I think we’re all a mix of everything, but my point was that all of us who have ancestors who’ve been here 200+ years will most likely have a Cherokee or other native in the family. It’s a given. Actually, my 5th great-grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee, she met her husband after he’d been taken prisoner by her tribe. However, all other lines are European, so I don’t think that gives me the right to call myself a “Native American.” When everyone starts assuming all these other identities, it sort of shoves the actual people out the door.

      I think the biblical warning was a warning to the father, more so than to their descendents. Jewish communities are very tight-knit and I’m sure it was the same when they were Hebrew. Exile would’ve been regarded as hell-on-earth. I don’t think God “punishes” the child for the father’s sins, but I do think the consequences of a parent’s wrongdoing can have an impact on their children for a long time. Speaking in DNA terms, it’s difficult to know. I’m sure the human gene pool was vastly different that far back into human history.

      • Al Shumate says:

        I see.You must get aggravated when you see folks on tv that are blonde haired and blue eyed and they’re running casinos on their own reservations like the Pequot tribe in New England.I seen em on TV once advertising their casinos.Everyone of em was whiter then me.Enough to make a real Red Man see white….I mean red.

        • admin says:

          I just think there should be some kind of criteria. Like to be Native American, then you, your parents, or your grandparents should’ve grown up on a reservation, or at least in an actual tribe. I think too many regard things like that as something novel, or something to play with, but never anything to respect or honor. I guess that’s the way people are, though, today. It doesn’t seem like anyone has much respect for anything when it comes down to it. It isn’t a color thing so much as it seems people are just dishonest about it, intentionally or not. I mean the Pembroke and Man Dan tribes could’ve been European, they were mostly light and had light eyes. The thing that gets me is people, who have very comfortable lives, go to good schools, have nice jobs, and relatively “cushy” lives, can claim the same title as those who live on reservations, where so many suffer with poverty, terrible schools, and horrible prospects. It doesn’t seem right.