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#31

Candy Moocher

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Posted Mar 6, 2010 @ 5:14 PM

But SJP at the end really grated. Her going on and on about how she felt so much more American and she didn't really feel like a real American before, but now all of a sudden she's legit - kind of goes against the whole "American dream" idea and implies immigrants (who weren't original colonists) are less "American."

Yes, while I enjoyed the episode as a whole, SJP going on and on about "feeling more American" was truly WTF.
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#32

Rebeccacrt

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Posted Mar 6, 2010 @ 5:53 PM

But SJP at the end really grated. Her going on and on about how she felt so much more American and she didn't really feel like a real American before, but now all of a sudden she's legit - kind of goes against the whole "American dream" idea and implies immigrants (who weren't original colonists) are less "American."


I don't think she meant it as a slam against recent immigrants or those who can't trace their lines back. Her reactions seemed genuine to me. We do typically go through life with the impressions of only the present to guide us and maybe a few stories from our parents or grandparents. I know that by looking into my own family history I have felt more of a connection to both my family and to their various cultures. To learn of family connections to important US events makes the US culture seem more genuine and real because many feel that there is not a true "American culture." We don't have a similar style of dress, dialect, religion, etc. That's not a bad thing, but it is a harder thing to embrace when you are trying to figure out your family history.

I can only speak from my experience, but for me knowing that I am from the US means that somewhere along the line my family came from somewhere else. I am proud to live here and proud of the history of this country, but I did not feel a strong connection to this country until I began piecing together how my family arrived and what they had experienced here. Maybe it is because I come from an immigrant family...I'm second generation...but my family has always been much more determined to keep its past culture alive than embrace the new. In researching I found more information about my father's family who had been here much longer than my mother's. It gave me more of a sense of belonging here and connecting to those things I had studied in school than I had before.

I don't know SJP's full story, but if she grew up hearing stories of her German relatives/ancestors like I did she probably struggled with the identity of being a US citizen. Yes, she was born here but the books and texts you read in school talk mainly about the US in terms of the pilgrims, the civil war, etc. To know that there is a connection is a very strong realization.
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#33

kitty32

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Posted Mar 6, 2010 @ 6:12 PM

I liked it a lot. I'm sure they went for the most interesting branch, but they certainly couldn't follow all her ancestors. The fact that the Hodge background was one that neither she or her mother was aware of was a good starting point.

Now that my parents and grandparents are dead I wish I'd asked more questions about my great-grandparents -- whose first names I don't even know. I have an aunt on the DeView side of the family that was a geneaologist so I know that information exists some where, but the Fisk and O'Malley side is a mystery to me. As time goes on more stores are lost because people don't sit around the fire swapping tales of their families anymore. Maybe this will encourage more young people to ask their parents and grandparents for the family history.

I think Emmitt Smith and Spike Lee will be interesting because it's such a different background. Brooke Shield being related to King Louis is a little too pat for my taste. But Lisa Kudrow is one of the producers so I'll be fascinated to see what she finds.
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#34

Demian

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Posted Mar 6, 2010 @ 7:19 PM

Brooke Shields being related to King Louis is a little too pat for my taste.

And somehow I doubt it's news to her, given that her grandmother was an Italian princess.

#35

Grammaeryn

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Posted Mar 6, 2010 @ 7:36 PM

I'm glad I wasn't the only one snorting at SJP's histrionics. But you gotta give the girl credit that she knew the gold rush happened around 1849... Her comment that if her Elwell great x200 grandma was a Salem witch accuser, she would want to somehow make up for it was absolutely ridiculous. Once we get slavery reparations, I wonder if witch trial reparations will be discussed? Feeling more American now that her ancestors are tied to US history makes no sense. I don't know if I'm jaded since I'm a first generation American but knowing my family came here on a boat fleeing oppression, makes me feel pretty damn American like the million others who have the same story in their families.
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#36

ShelleySue

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Posted Mar 6, 2010 @ 9:55 PM

But SJP at the end really grated. Her going on and on about how she felt so much more American and she didn't really feel like a real American before, but now all of a sudden she's legit - kind of goes against the whole "American dream" idea and implies immigrants (who weren't original colonists) are less "American."


I don't think she meant it as a slam against recent immigrants or those who can't trace their lines back.


I do understand what SJP meant about feeling more American. I'm second generation on one side and third on the other. When I learned American history I knew that it was the history of my country, but not necessarily the history of "my people." When I learned about the Civil War I knew that, because I'm from Chicago, the North was the home team. But my ancestors had no part in the Civil War. Mr. ShelleySue's family, on the other hand, came here in the 1600's. His father was into geneology and we have all of his family tree notes. So Mr. ShelleySue and ShelleySueChildren know not only that they live in the North but that they have five ancestors who fought in the Civil War. They know their ancesestors fought in the Revolutionary War. To them American History is their family history. That doesn't take away from recent immigrants being American. I assume that when SJP was excited it was because the things she learned in school seemed more real to her, not because it make people without that history any less of Americans. (At least I hope that's what she felt.)

One thing that I would like to see on this show is a little bit on how people can do their own research. I know that the show is almost an infomerical for ancestory.com, but SJP also visited physical places. Are those places open to the general public? If I thought that a relative was involved in the Salem Witch Trials would I have access to the resources that were available to SJP? Information like that would be very useful.
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#37

Demian

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Posted Mar 6, 2010 @ 11:01 PM

One thing that I would like to see on this show is a little bit on how people can do their own research. I know that the show is almost an infomerical for ancestry.com...

Heh. In the interest of keeping your money out of the hands of the Mormons (who, admittedly and regrettably, have received plenty of my own over the last couple of years), here are a couple of free resources:

The German Genealogy Group's index of births, marriages, and deaths in New York City, with marriages to 1937 and deaths to 1948.

West Virginia's statewide Vital Research Records Project.

Marriage license index for Cuyahoga County, Ohio, which includes the city of Cleveland.

Arizona birth and death certificates.

A free records search from the Mormons which includes digital copies of various records from various jurisdictions in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, including the United States censuses of 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, and 1920; the New York State censuses of 1865, 1892, and 1905; Ohio death certificates from 1908 to 1953; and Cook County, Illinois, birth certificates from 1878 to 1922.

The Irish national census of 1911, with the national census of 1901 to be available by the middle of this year.

#38

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Posted Mar 7, 2010 @ 1:14 AM

I have to say, this was VERY inferior to PBS' "Faces of America" (which is basically the same show, including mainly featuring celebrities, but done a lot better).
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#39

hjmugillecuty

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Posted Mar 7, 2010 @ 1:28 AM

Ancestory.com is based in Utah but it isn't owned by the LDS (Mormon) Church. The LDS Church's main site for family history is familysearch.org which is free to use. You can also search the family history library catalog in Salt Lake for free.

Most areas have some kind of historical society, especially on the East Coast. Some of them have free websites, I've definitely seen them for Maryland. As far as specific events, like the Witch Trials or the Mayflower for example, there is tons of information online including transcripts of the trials. I have found copies of my ancestor's plea to the court for the hangings to end with her which certainly made me feel like I knew her better.

I'm excited for the Lisa Kudrow episode although I think I'll be crying through the whole thing. There was talk that she has family that survived the Holocaust.
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#40

absolutdc2001

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Posted Mar 7, 2010 @ 8:18 AM

why did the obit say the father died in 1849 on the journey, and not later?
That's typical of how dates and details get altered over time like a big game of family history telephone.


I thought it was mentioned in the episode that news of his actual death didn't reach home until 1951 so they probably just assumed that he had died on the journey to CA.
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#41

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Posted Mar 7, 2010 @ 10:15 AM

I wasn't planning on watching this based on snarky comments before it aired. But I caught it On Demand and I'm glad I did. I thought SJP displayed the kind of emotion just about anyone would when given information about their family they never imagined could be fact. I have researched both sides of my family and my husband's sides and I can still remember the feelings I had uncovering information about family members, looking at copies of death certificates, naturalization documents.

know that by looking into my own family history I have felt more of a connection to both my family and to their various cultures. To learn of family connections to important US events makes the US culture seem more genuine and real because many feel that there is not a true "American culture." We don't have a similar style of dress, dialect, religion, etc. That's not a bad thing, but it is a harder thing to embrace when you are trying to figure out your family history.


I agree Rebeccacrt. I'm sure she felt a connecticut to her German ancestors because that's what she knew about but then her family juts off in this different direction of ancestors who had been in America for a much longer time. I thought that was totally fascinating.

I'll be watching the rest.
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#42

Thena

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Posted Mar 7, 2010 @ 11:02 AM

I'm a fan of the original UK version. I did like Kim Cattral's episode and it was very personal and more recent. It's very serious and well done and for some reason, the NBC version doesn't quite get it. I haven't seen the PBS Faces of America so I can't compare. I thought the montage at the end of the SJP episode was horrid and they kept going on about how she would tell her mother and then they didn't show it? Maybe they requested the cameras but off, but I thought the discussion between mother and daughter about family history would be better than some stupid montage.

I will continue to watch as well and follow it on this thread.
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#43

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Posted Mar 7, 2010 @ 11:39 AM

why did the obit say the father died in 1849 on the journey, and not later?
That's typical of how dates and details get altered over time like a big game of family history telephone.

I thought it was mentioned in the episode that news of his actual death didn't reach home until 1951 so they probably just assumed that he had died on the journey to CA.

I thought the letter told about the place and date of death, but I could be mistaken. I think I'll have to watch it again.
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#44

reapermadness

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Posted Mar 7, 2010 @ 12:48 PM

One thing that I would like to see on this show is a little bit on how people can do their own research.


In addition to all of the sites that Demian listed. Definitely visit: Cyndi's List of Genealogy

It's quite well organized and has links to many websites that you don't have to pay for, in addition to those where a membership is needed. It also has good information on how to get started tracing your family history. The links are also kept up to date, which is very handy.

You might also want to check out your local library. You'd be surprised the resources they usually have available there. Good luck.
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#45

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Posted Mar 7, 2010 @ 4:00 PM

Now that genealogy TV shows have made their way to America, here's a little help for the novices:

1. Write down as much of the family tree as you can. Ask your older relatives to confirm spellings of names, and try to find from them as much as you can about each relative.

2. Look up every single name in every single census that was taken in each person's lifetime. Get printouts when you find a name. You will refer back to these many times and keep gleaning more info. There is a lot of census info online - some of it free, and some of it you'll pay for, through sites like ancestry.com.

3. If you have a birthdate & birthplace for an individual, send away for a birth certificate. This will not only have names of parents, but maiden names and parents' birthplaces. Very helpful.

4. Look up military records for all relatives who served. Plenty of good info there, and you can get more complete info from national archives. Look up the regimental histories for military ancestors.

5. Ancestry.com is expensive, but it's a great resource. Pick up some family tree software and start filling in names. Surname message boards are also a big help.

6. Some family research is harder than others. It's hard to trace descendants of slaves. Irish genealogy is very difficult because so many records were destroyed. If your ancestors were victims of genocide and/or oppression, it's going to be rough going.

7. Church records are a great resource, but remember that church secretaries have better things to do than help you with your research. Always try to make a donation to any church that bothers to assist you with genealogy.

8. Death records, obits and cemeteries also have good info. Also, look for wills and land deeds.

9. If you reach a dead end, try a different spelling of the name you are researching.

10. Learn not to bore the crap out of people by sharing your new genealogical discoveries with them. No one really cares, except your relatives. And when you learn fascinating tidbits about your ancestors, try not to overemote like Sarah Jessica. It might get you shot.
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#46

tonkacat

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Posted Mar 7, 2010 @ 4:40 PM

And be sure to look for every miss spelling of first and last names you can think of.
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#47

Snark Shark

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Posted Mar 7, 2010 @ 5:47 PM

haven't seen the PBS Faces of America so I can't compare.

You can watch it for free online (supposing you live in America and aren't IP blocked): http://www.pbs.org/w...category/video/
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#48

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Posted Mar 7, 2010 @ 9:01 PM

Learn not to bore the crap out of people by sharing your new genealogical discoveries with them. No one really cares, except your relatives.


Exactly. I get bored when people want to tell me about how their great-great-grandfather was an Irish potato farmer. Yawn. I think this show is good though because somehow it's not as boring when a celebrity talks about the same topic.
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#49

Rebeccacrt

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Posted Mar 9, 2010 @ 2:03 AM

ReillysRevenge I agree with what you said. The only thing I would add was that you can also get a lot of information from marriage license applications.

If you order a copy of the license, be sure to ask for the application the couple filled out too. For example, I learned my grandfather had been married before from his application with my grandmother. None of his eight children knew about it until after both their parents deaths. So it turned into our own mini soap opera.

You made a good point about the church secretaries being busy. I would also say the same thing for newspaper offices if you are trying to find obitiuaries. Especially if it is a small town - be specific about your search. Learn how to use a microfilm machine. Nobody wants to spend the whole day sitting with you because you are scared to change out the film. At the newspaper office I worked at they made the reporters run the archives. People searching for obits would inevitably show up when we were on deadline and tell us they wanted to search through 20 years of obits to see if they recognized any names. Or we would get a phone call from someone wanting us to do the searching for them.

Most cities/counties have a historical society. The volunteers there can be great resources. I was able to contact one who searched for stuff for me across the country in exchange for me doing some data entry work for her.

Edited by Rebeccacrt, Mar 9, 2010 @ 2:08 AM.

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#50

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Posted Mar 9, 2010 @ 4:58 PM

I'm in. Though I'm a big family history geek so this show was tailor made for me. I think I like the PBS version a little better, but then, Stephen Colbert makes everything better.

SJP definitely wasn't doing any searching herself. The guy from the New England society could just rattle off her ancestor's tree. That took a lot of searching through records. And I hated the montage at the end. I wanted to see her mother's reaction.

I related to her comment about feeling more American. More connected to the country when it's your history too. I'm a lot more interested in Civil War Battle X because I know my ancestor fought there. Even though I've never even been on the East Coast, Maryland suddenly became fascinating when I found out my ancestor settled there in the 1660s.

While I don't find ancestry.com that expensive, there are loads of free sites. Almost every county in the US has a site through rootsweb.
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#51

Kveta

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Posted Mar 12, 2010 @ 4:42 PM

I watched the PBS series and at about the same time it was concluding read about this one. I found the first segment interesting and it will likely be destination tv for me. I'm glad to know in advance that each segment will be only about one person. Some are more interesting to me than others.

Lisa Kudrow's background is the most similar to mine. I am looking forward to watching it very much.
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#52

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Posted Mar 12, 2010 @ 9:29 PM

Okay- Emmitt Smith totally made me boo-hoo when he was standing in the cemetery. I just absolutely lost it when I felt his pain at the inequity of that situation - that the ancestors of the white slave owner could come and visit her grave, but he was just left to stand at the fence and wonder where his ancestor was buried.

I actually found his story more interesting than last week's story. There just seemed to be more twists and turns and more things to be truly emotional about, unlike SJP's total overreaction (IMO) to finding out about her ancestors.

Also, I started thinking that maybe the reason they're following certain branches of their family tree is because those surnames are easier to trace, like Puryear was a lot easier than Smith. Of course, the drama inherent in certain branches factors in, as well.

Could Emmitt's wife be any more beautiful? Wow.
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#53

Rebeccacrt

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Posted Mar 12, 2010 @ 9:39 PM

Also, I started thinking that maybe the reason they're following certain branches of their family tree is because those surnames are easier to trace, like Puryear was a lot easier than Smith. Of course, the drama inherent in certain branches factors in, as well.


That is very true. Additionally, people who do researc their families will tell you that you take it in bits and pieces. You search the easiest names first or those that you have information on. When you hit a brick wall then you go to another branch and try there.

Not to mention it would be way too confusing for the audience, who are not connected to these people they are talking about, to keep track if they started talking about the fourth grandmother on the father's father's side and then switched to the seventh grandmother on the mother's side. The audience would spend the whole time going..."Wait...who was that? What?"
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#54

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Posted Mar 12, 2010 @ 9:59 PM

Since they tested his DNA, I was hoping they would find a white descendant of Samuel Puryear and compare DNA to Emmit's in order to answer definitively whether or not Samuel was Mariah's father as they assumed. I also think that would have been interesting for Emmit to meet a white cousin who might not know they had any black relatives.

When Emmit was going on and on about book 22 being significant, I thought it would have been funny if the guy interrupted him and said "Oh wait, it's not in this book, it's in 23."
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#55

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Posted Mar 12, 2010 @ 10:14 PM

Total, and very poorly done, rip-off of Henry Louis Gates' Faces of America on PBS. Does NBC have no shame?


I am a huge fan of all the PBS series that Henry Louis Gates did (FoA, African American Lives 1 & 2), and clearly they were produced much better than this show. But I can still enjoy this show for what it is.

I had wanted to do a family history for ages, but my relatives just didn't want to talk about their lives post slavery. Clearly I have a lot of work to do so I can leave a family history for my children.
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#56

Demian

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Posted Mar 12, 2010 @ 10:17 PM

Since they tested his DNA, I was hoping they would find a white descendant of Samuel Puryear and compare DNA to Emmit's in order to answer definitively whether or not Samuel was Mariah's father as they assumed.

It's not that simple -- they'd need to examine either mitochondrial DNA samples, which are only traceable matrilineally, or the Y chromosomes, which are passed father to son, and since they traced his family back to Mecklenburg County through a combination of his male and female forebears, it would be a very expensive nightmare of further research and testing to pull off.

I thought it would have been funny if the guy interrupted him and said "Oh wait, it's not in this book, it's in 23."

Heh. I'm wondering why Mariah named two of her kids for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Edited by Demian, Mar 12, 2010 @ 10:19 PM.


#57

Arynm

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Posted Mar 12, 2010 @ 10:37 PM

Well, that was another episode that made me cry like a baby. Such a wealth of history out there, if people would just look. I am Jewish so I can only go back so far,most of the records were gone in the war so I am in awe of families that can trace back hundreds of years. Emmitts wife was beautiful! I could not keep my eyes off her. She has much more European in her judging from those eyes. I loved that Mariah was able to keep her family together. She must have been very strong, or very cunning. She must have been amazing
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#58

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Posted Mar 12, 2010 @ 11:09 PM

Since they tested his DNA, I was hoping they would find a white descendant of Samuel Puryear and compare DNA to Emmit's in order to answer definitively whether or not Samuel was Mariah's father as they assumed. I also think that would have been interesting for Emmit to meet a white cousin who might not know they had any black relatives.


The research in this show could stand some improvement. I agree that they did not show definitively that Samuel was the father of Mariah. You would need a descendant from Mariah's brother (assuming there was one, and he was definitely Samuel's son) and that descendant would have to be male and come entirely from an all male line. You have to do the same for Samuel - get the dna from his son's son's son's all the way down. Oh, then you have to dig up Samuel and get his dna. And remember, all it takes is one bored housewife somewhere up the line, and a friendly delivery guy, and you are not related to the line you think you are.

Thought Emmitt was a charismatic man, but I think his ego is as large as his athletic talent. And how does he know he would make entirely different choices if he had been a white slave owner in the colonial period?

After watching the PBS African-American Lives shows, and then this show, I find it fascinating that so many African-Americans are relieved find out they have as little white blood as possible. And then so many of the men gravitate to women who look like they have a high percentage of white blood. I mean, how white is Emmitt's wife? Will you soon have more status within the African-American community if you look more black and less white? By the way, I think Oprah was one of the rare ones without a drop of European blood.

Henry Gates found out he was about half white in the course of doing his show. He seemed disappointed when it turned out that some of his white blood did not come about through rape of a slave by slave owner, but as the result of a freed slave marrying a white woman.

I think I wish that, as a society, we would just make a decision if race matters or not. The DNA tests are teaching us that we're all related, and race is irrelevant.
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#59

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Posted Mar 13, 2010 @ 12:02 AM

I have been a long time fan of Emmitt Smith. His story made me cry at times. Very touching.

I wish that, as a society, we would just make a decision if race matters or not. The DNA tests are teaching us that we're all related, and race is irrelevant.

I agree.

I mean, how white is Emmitt's wife? Will you soon have more status within the African-American community if you look more black and less white?

If race should be irrelevant, I think how white Emmitt's wife looks shouldn't matter.

I am a huge fan of all the PBS series that Henry Louis Gates did (FoA, African American Lives 1 & 2), and clearly they were produced much better than this show. But I can still enjoy this show for what it is.

ITA.
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#60

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Posted Mar 13, 2010 @ 12:22 AM

I mean, how white is Emmitt's wife? Will you soon have more status within the African-American community if you look more black and less white?


If race should be irrelevant, I think how white Emmitt's wife looks shouldn't matter.



Race clearly mattered to Emmitt, since he seemed happy to have a high percentage of African-American blood. So one would be surprised a person of that mentality would choose a mate who looks to have a smaller percentage of African-American blood, and therefore produce children with a lower percentage of African-Amer. blood than he has. It's personally irrelevant to me how white anybody is.

If this hasn't already been done, it would really be cool if there were a center devoted to nothing but research of African-American ancestry. It would have copies of all those state records relevant to slavery, like slave owner wills & documents, in one location. Now that would be great thing for Mr. Smith to do with his dinero.
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