I have put off writing a post describing my experience finally getting my DNA tested.
I had written a previous post about racism called “Racism 101” and what I knew about it at the end of 2014. I didn’t state all my issues at that time and probably never will because I don’t know much. I tune unpleasant things out all the time.
So, is denial racism?
I have to explain something that I did not state in my previous 2014 post. Everything in my family was a BIG secret! No one in our family ever told amusing antidotes about anything or anyone. No warm family memories were ever shared that I can remember. We used to have more relatives around, because more were alive, when I was a child. I’m sure the grownups must have exchanged witty repartee when us kids went to bed.
My father told us he was part “Indian” or what PC now refers to as Native American. My mother was more complicated. She had dark olive skin and very frizzy black hair but bright blue eyes, which I did not inherit but my sister had. Once we were asked by our teachers in elementary school to find out our nationality so we could share this for Geography class. Sounds ominous now and my mother didn’t like it back then either. She said “You are an American.” I was upset and saying no, what country did our family come from. She refused to offer any information and told me to tell my teacher our family are Americans and that’s all she needs to know. I knew my mom was not happy.
When I came home from class I told my mom that I know what she is now. I remember her laughing when I said this and saying “Oh yeah, what am I?” I knew she was darker than the rest of us, all of her children were very fair compared to her and some of her father’s family. Some of us are a little darker skin wise and yellow or olive but none of us have her black hair. One of the children in my class was the same color as my mom and he said he was Italian. I told my mom I knew she was Italian. She just started to laugh and said, “no, I’m not Italian.” That was not quite true.
She really was not sure what races or nationalities she really was. Things of that nature were never discussed in our household or with my friends either. Only the racist mainstream media speaks of such things anyway, we all know that. When I was an older teen I was rummaging through my grams drawers just to see what was in there. I used to find old compacts, mirrors and all kinds of odd stuff. I came across a stack of pictures buried in her clothing. I could tell it was her when she was a teenager with some “dark guy with a fro.” He sort of looked Cuban.
I took the pictures over to my gram and asked who that guy was with her in them. She was irate to say the least. “What are you doing in my drawers! It’s none of your damn business who this is.” Kind of an odd reaction. Even when I try to make sense of it today, I can’t. Who acts like that about an ex husband? Why wouldn’t you say “Oh that’s just your grandfather and me when we were young.” Is that denial, is that racism?
I knew that’s who it was so when I told my mom later what happened she said, “Oh that’s probably pictures of my dad.” I asked her if she had ever seen them and she said no. I asked her why not and she swung around and snapped “Didn’t you know I was a passer?” I asked her what that was and she said “A person that passes for white.” She had told me that she would overhear some of her German family talk about her dad’s family as “washed out colored people” when she was a kid. I wasn’t sure what that meant and I didn’t really care.
I didn’t pay much attention to this short conversation and lived my life. My sister-in-law had gotten her DNA done many years ago. My sister did this as well. I never cared about the results, of which my sister kept saying how she was “part black” which I ignored because I didn’t care. Now I wish I would have pushed for more details. I never saw her results which was actually done through a hospital. I remember once when she was young they thought she had sickle cell. I don’t know if my mom said anything to the Doctors at that time but I’m sure they could see her coloring.
I am going to share my DNA results that I received at the beginning of the year which shows that my mother must have some African, but mostly Mediterranean on her fathers side since I inherited a small amount myself. Actually I’m a quarter Iberian/Italian & African DNA wise. The one I am most shocked to see is the quarter Scandinavian I inherited. I knew about the British Isle stuff, minus Great Britain apparently. It was fun to finally do this though.
What’s strange is my fascination to all things Moroccan and Egyptian since I was tiny. Not counting how long I studied their music and culture as an adult as small as that percentage is in my DNA. It made me more aware of all these various countries and their cultures since I have lived my life as an American in America eating hot dogs and watching baseball because that’s what we are supposed to do, right?
So even though some of my white family knew the stories about my mother’s family’s heritage when I sent some of them my results, I was met with silence. Then when I finally heard from them it was, “I don’t think this is accurate” or sometimes “these places make mistakes.” So….is denial racism, because that’s how I took it. I took it that they freaked when they saw a tiny part of my DNA was African. Maybe I am just being too sensitive because I never bothered to actually ask them what part they thought was the “mistake.”
More to come regarding the quest for my real identity!