Saturday, February 11, 2006


I don’t think I’ve yet mentioned here how much I love PBS. Public television, the Amazing Race and Bollywood are the only reasons I even have a television these days…

At any rate, there was this FABULOUS documentary on the other night called African American Lives. It was led by historian/author Henry Louis Gates, Jr. the head of Harvard University's Afr0-American studies program. I would have missed the whole thing except my mom called me and mentioned it was on.

All I saw was like the last 10 minutes where this scientist explaining how they can tell what percentage of your DNA was African, Asian, etc. Then they could tell you which tribal group your DNA most closely matches. I’m like, “shut up!” That’s really cool stuff!

The previous episode showed where he searched genealogies for himself, Quincy Jones, Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Tucker, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Dr. Mae Jemison (astronaut), author/historian Dr. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, and Bishop T.D. Jakes. I managed to tape that one. It was so amazing to see how people reacted to the information because he gave them a scrapbook with copies of whatever documentation they were able to find. So of course Oprah was crying (I don’t blame her) when she saw a record that listed her great, great, great grandparents in a slave census without any names, just age and gender.

Every black person should definitely check this out. It’s one of the more encouraging Black History Month pieces I’ve seen. No need to worr’ bout ole massa here. Its bout us!

The documentary is available from PBS for $34.99 or if you’re like me and think you would enjoy it more in three months when it’s $18.69, try Until then, check out the Geneology Guide that Mr. Gates put together. It will help explain what he the nice little old white ladies had to do to find all the information.


Anonymous said...

I'd love to get my genetics tested! I wonder how much it costs.

Rachel in Nova Scotia

Brandon Q. said...

Great post, I saw that special on PBS and I thought it was excellent. However, a friend of mine brought up the potential downside of eugenics creeping up its head. Meaning, all of these firms that have DNA from Black folk will then use the data to prove all kinds of crazy theories. What do you think?


t.HYPE said...

Fortunately, eugenics has gone out of style. Kind of like calling people "colored."

People are always misusing things to prove a point and while some of the old blue-bloods might be hanging on to that garbage, I think enough of their neighbors have raised their children to believe the truth rather than such nonsense. It will not completely disappear because prejudice never will but I don't think it's a big point for worry.

Mulit Racial White Guy said...

"Racism" is the belief in race. The Bible refers MOL to people groups and tribes, not race, and the only time race is mentioned is when referring to Christians as a new race. Why do you continue to separate yourself from me?

t-HYPE said...

Well MRWguy since you asked...
You're comment about race is true but I don't think it pertains to the discussion here. The only time I used the word "race" was referring to The Amazing Race. I think most (well educated) people are aware that the concept of race is a primarily social construct so "ethnicity" IS the correct word when referring to different people groups.

When I refer to Africans, Asians, Europeans, I am literally referring to the residents of said continents--nothing more.

I directed this post to "black people" and perhaps should have been more specific in saying "black Americans". As I assume you know, the history of black Americans is quite muddled. Most of us can not even make a solid claim to ancestry from a single country! That's rarely the case for white Americans. So, basically, I was (emploring?) offering people an opportunity to right that wrong.

Sorry if that made you feel bad.