A large percentage of African Americans have European blood in their ancestry. This is something that is celebrated by some, but disgusting to others. The reason that these revelations draw such deep concerns is because many of these “relationships” were involuntary. For hundreds of years, African Americans were forced to consummate relationships against their will, so the offspring are difficult to celebrate, even when the school system works so diligently to erase the suffering of black people from our collective memory banks.
According to Ancestry.com, Michelle Obama always knew she had white relatives in her family. But she didn’t know the exact nature of these relationships or the identity of her descendants. Rachel Swarns, a reporter for the New York times, researched Mrs. Obama’s past and found the whites in her family tree.
Swarns is the author of the book, “American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama.” In the book, she details how she went through scores of historical records and libraries to find the first lady’s roots. She eventually concluded that DNA testing would be necessary to find out what really happened.
Swarns says that she believed that Mrs. Obama is related to the Shields family who owned her great-great-great grandmother, Melvinia Shields. She then got the families on both sides to do DNA testing in order to confirm her suspicions.
She found that she was correct. Melvinia’s owner’s son is believed to be the father of Melvinia’s bi-racial child, Dolphus. Dolphus is the great-great grandfather of the first lady.
The families got together in Rex, Georgia to remember Melvinia’s life. The gathering was reflective, since Swarns speculates that the relationship between the families might not have existed had the first lady’s great-great-great grandmother not been forced to sleep with her master’s son.
So, is this revelation something to celebrate or a solemn reminder of what our ancestors had to go through? If a child is born out of sexual assault, how do you celebrate the life of the child without celebrating the horrendous act that led to the child’s existence?
We’d love to hear your thoughts.