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Finding Your Roots


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#151

Xuewi

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Posted May 17, 2012 @ 12:54 PM

Relationships between slaves and slave owners can never really be consensual, IMHO. There may not be physical rape involved in all cases, but when the man holds all power over the woman (including selling her, her family, and her children away from each other) how can she be said to be making a free choice?


You make valid points here and I wasn't saying that relationships between slave holders and slaves were free choices for the slave the way we in the early 21st century would consider free choices. However; I consider that some were cases of slaves making the best of a bad situation that they had been subjected to against their will via capture or birth. Put it this way: which relationship would have had more potential to a slave woman: one with a slaveholder who'd expressed his interest who could decide to keep one's offspring on the plantation and have them work as 'house servants' or a field hand expressing interest who themselves would have no determination in their children's fates and could be sold away or beaten to death? And then,too, even in times and situations where the majority of folks have been encouraged to hate and fear those who are different, there are some from differing groups who defy conventions to actually become physically attracted and even fall in love long enough to conceive despite the odds going entirely against any long term benefit. For the sake of their descendents, I think Professor Gates should have at least been willing to consider the possibility of more positive conception MO as opposed to uniformly encouraging them to believe that there was no chance that their ancestresses had had anything but forced conceptions.

#152

MaryDell

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Posted May 17, 2012 @ 1:07 PM

For the sake of their descendents, I think Professor Gates should have at least been willing to consider the possibility of more positive conception MO as opposed to uniformly encouraging them to believe that there was no chance that their ancestresses had had anything but forced conceptions.


You, too, make some interesting points. However, I think a situation in which a love child was the outcome of a slave/slave holder relationship would be unlikely and more than rare. In fact, I think it would be so rare that to offer it to someone as a possibility for their particular ancestor would be inaccurate.

I'd love to think that my Irish ancestors left Mayo because they wanted to start a new life in America, but I know it was primarily because they had endured the famine and had no real future (literally and figuratively) if they stayed in Ireland. Did they want to leave their country and the all the people they knew and loved behind forever? Maybe they did, but I doubt that it is likely. The most likely scenario is an important part of their story for me in the absence of evidence to the contrary. YMMV.

#153

cheeztoast

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Posted May 17, 2012 @ 3:45 PM

This is a completely shallow observation of the last episode but Margaret Cooper is the most lucid, healthy and lively 98-year-old person I've ever seen anywhere.

#154

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Posted May 17, 2012 @ 5:11 PM

[quote:cheeztoast]This is a completely shallow observation of the last episode but Margaret Cooper is the most lucid, healthy and lively 98-year-old person I've ever seen anywhere.[/quote]

I have that beat by almost a decade. At 106 (!) my great-aunt was still serving everyone else tea, no cane required to walk. She did have to apologize, however - at her age, she had forgotten most of her English (though her Russian, German, and French were still going strong)...

Topic? Re: the LDS Library in Salt Lake City - I am likely going to be there mid-July for a conference. CANNOT. WAIT.

#155

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Posted May 17, 2012 @ 6:34 PM

I loved Margaret Cooper also. I wish someone had done a documentary about the Delaney sisters instead of the (somewhat mediocre) television movie, but she kind of reminds me of them, come to think of it. The longest-lived person in my family was over 100, but I was too little when they died to know if they were still vibrant. I have a great aunt by marriage I'd love to claim 'blood kin' to, who is just awesomely vital still, despite now having some health problems. In her 90s, with nerve degeneration in her legs, nearly blind and still shovels her own walkway. I mean...

Re: the LDS Library in Salt Lake City - I am likely going to be there mid-July for a conference. CANNOT. WAIT.


Lucky duck. I'm happy for you.

About history I love learning things I didn't know or hadn't thought about before. I hope there will be more of that. I just looked up Lucy Hanks and she wed Henry Sparrow in 1791, so that's how long, at least, the fornication charges against women who had children before wedlock (Nancy Hanks was born well before the wedding, so it's unclear who the biological father really was - Megan Smolenyak, I'm paging you! DNA can solve that...) were still going on. The charges against her were dropped once they wed, which is why I think he is likely the biological father (or my pet theory - his father was.) I believe both Lincoln's grandmother and mother were born on the other side of the blankets. I can't imagine being hauled before a judge for that, though. Can you imagine Elizabeth Banks' boss/owner, or those judges, seeing Sixteen and Pregnant today??

#156

Xuewi

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Posted May 18, 2012 @ 12:53 PM

Mary Dell,
I suppose it's a matter of perspective. To me, a rare occurrence is not the equivalent of a nonoccurrence. And, as cynical as I can be, I suppose I would rather think that there was a possibility of at least some of my ancestry had resulted from an ancestress trying to make the best of a bad situation [like many slaves did in a variety of means] or even love briefly blossoming over incredible odds than to resign myself to believe that there was no chance ancestors were conceived via any method besides coercion. It was Dr. Gates's call how to present it and I like & respect his work and research but I just wish he had offered a tiny smidgen of hope amongst the grimness to his guests re their own ancestors' conceptions.
I agree with the others that Ms. Cooper was quite an interesting subject herself [and would have liked to have learned a bit about her life instead of just her ancestry]. Yeah, she seems as though she'd be a terrific person to have for a friend if one had reason to know her- and not just for being an incredibly sharp nonagenarian. And, I also was impressed how one of her ancestresses actually went to court to protest her own slave status- and won! That lady had incredible guts to even attempt to walk into a courthouse much less pursue a suit like that in that time and place where she literally had absolutely no rights beyond it being illegal for her to be killed.

#157

braggtastic

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Posted May 18, 2012 @ 11:16 PM

I know 50 year olds with more wrinkles than Margaret Cooper - just astounding.

#158

ScrubMonkey

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Posted May 19, 2012 @ 6:34 PM

I liked this episode because it focused on the subjects being profiled (the guests), and I didn't hear 20 minutes about Professor Gates' story. I think he might've mentioned something briefly, I don't recall. But if I don't recall that means it wasn't there enough to bug me so that's fine with me. With its flaws I do still like this series because the more I find about my own roots the more I want everyone to find theirs. Shows like this get people interested in it. And just in each other.

And, I also was impressed how one of her ancestresses actually went to court to protest her own slave status- and won!


I wanted to know on what basis they awarded her the victory in the case. It was so unusual, was there an unusual circumstance? Was her mother white, like Wanda's ancestor's mother was? And it just wasn't known or proven in court yet, or she was enslaved despite that, or something? It didn't sound like her owner wanted her to win (not surprising) so how did she find out that was a possibility to sue for? Was she educated enough to read about it somewhere? Did someone tell her? I had a lot of questions and wanted to know more about that. They could've done an hour just on Ms. Cooper.

I wonder how many more episodes to go? Next week's should be interesting. I have been wanting them to talk about Native American history.

#159

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Posted May 20, 2012 @ 9:38 PM

I loved this eppy. Being latin is a layered story. I loved MR.

#160

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Posted May 20, 2012 @ 11:27 PM

Finally an ep focusing on latino/native-american roots! Fascinating! It's not my ethnic background, but living in the Southwest, I'm very familiar with the so-called hidden Jews who light candles on Fridays and eschew shrimp and have no idea why. Supposedly they changed their names to names of fruit, vegetables and other elements of nature, like flores, luna, pina and rios. It's amazing how hard our ancestors clung to their religious beliefs in the past, asserting religious practices even when oppressed, and how quickly people in modern times give up on their childhood faiths.

Adrian Grenier has always impressed me as another vacuous and narcissistic actor, but I liked him better in this show. Michelle Rodriguez totally pings my 'dar, but apparently she's straight. I like that she has a tougher demeanor than most of her peers. And Linda Chavez was impressive.

Gates seems to bring out the best in his subjects, whereas wdytya often changes my mind about certain celebs, usually for the worse.

#161

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Posted May 21, 2012 @ 6:24 AM

Michelle Rodriguez irked me, especially when she was surprised to find out that she is 70% white and acted disappointed at that fact. What if someone were to go on the show and act disappointed at being 70% black and said they wanted to be white? How would that come off? A lot of people seem to think it would be cool to be American Indian. Why can't they just accept what they are?

Edited by Intuition, May 21, 2012 @ 6:25 AM.


#162

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Posted May 21, 2012 @ 9:17 AM

Michelle Rodriguez irked me, especially when she was surprised to find out that she is 70% white and acted disappointed at that fact. What if someone were to go on the show and act disappointed at being 70% black and said they wanted to be white? How would that come off? A lot of people seem to think it would be cool to be American Indian. Why can't they just accept what they are?


I see this differently. Today being white is the default IMO. Too many times people, a lot of black people, will say they are any other ethnicity and then put black last, as if being black is something awful, like being a different species. I have heard people speak with disdain about finding out a favorite actress or model is part black, the attitude being is, "I can't like so and so if they have black ancestry." I see where you're coming from, but that attitude is really very rare.

#163

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Posted May 21, 2012 @ 10:23 AM

Michelle denies being bisexual or lesbian even though one of her female costars in a prior movie indicated they were in a relationship.

As for the 75% white wasn't that European ancestry which covers Spain?
Also that Michele thought she was 75% Native American, 20% Black, 5% European. So she was completely the opposite of what she was.

#164

Xuewi

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Posted May 21, 2012 @ 12:43 PM

Michelle Rodriguez seemed a bit surprised and unimpressed that her maternal-maternal great-grandmother had been the longtime mistress of the great-grandfather with the evident sanction of the his wife. While outside families often happened there with nudges and winks, very rare indeed that the wife would have been so understanding as to allow the mistress to be buried in the family plot with them! I wonder why Michelle's grandmother never mentioned all this to her? Could she have been far less understanding of this than her father's wife?! Still, it was great that she got to reunite with a great-aunt in the Dominican Republic and see where her grandmother's family had come from.
Also, we need to keep in mind that this show is about finding the guests' roots NOT speculating whom they may or may not have slept with [and it's entirely possible that if one person says there was an affair and the other person denies it that the person claiming said affair could be the one lying so that alone doesn't confirm or refute anything re Michelle].
Interesting that Mr. Grenier had zero interest in finding out his father's parentage. I know that he and his mother [in a repeat of her own mother's non-marital union] never married and soon separated but it's odd that he totally ignored that part of the picture. What's more, why was nothing mentioned about how his maternal grandmother's father's family the Greniers happened to settle in New Mexico? Were they descendents of a French-Canadian fur trader who moved south or a lone latter day French adventurer? Odd that neither he nor Dr. Gates brought up the fact that Grenier is a French rather than a Spanish surname. Interesting, though, that Dr. Gates was willing to give Mr. Grenier hope that his mestizo ancestor being the son a prominent conquistador and Native American woman whose name was not recorded may have been from a consensual union rather than grimly state that it unquestionably a forced one.
Yes, it was interesting to find out about Ms. Chavez's documented Sephardic Jewish ancestry but since Jews and Moors alike descended from Middle Eastern people and had lived in Spain for over seven centuries prior to the Inquisition, it's entirely possible that at least some of Ms. Chavez's 20 percent 'Middle Eastern' ancestry may have previously dived into the family gene pool in Spain before venturing to New Mexico.
I hope this show comes back in the fall and have to admit that I prefer it to "Who Do You Think You Are"!

Edited by Xuewi, May 21, 2012 @ 12:44 PM.


#165

Tenshinhan

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Posted May 21, 2012 @ 2:07 PM

Michelle Rodriguez irked me, especially when she was surprised to find out that she is 70% white and acted disappointed at that fact. What if someone were to go on the show and act disappointed at being 70% black and said they wanted to be white? How would that come off? A lot of people seem to think it would be cool to be American Indian. Why can't they just accept what they are?

I see this differently. Today being white is the default IMO. Too many times people, a lot of black people, will say they are any other ethnicity and then put black last, as if being black is something awful, like being a different species. I have heard people speak with disdain about finding out a favorite actress or model is part black, the attitude being is, "I can't like so and so if they have black ancestry." I see where you're coming from, but that attitude is really very rare.


I agree. One of the many consequences of the culture of white supremacy in the Americas is the idea that being white is the norm, so hearing Michelle Rodriguez and Adrian Grenier favoring their non-white ancestry seems like a form of unconscious resistance in my opinion.

This was probably my favorite episode of the series; I'm disappointed it's the end. I thought it was interesting how the Spanish kept those racial paintings to classify the different peoples in the colony, and that they would intermarry within their own families. Latin heritage is definitely multi-layered, I hope to see more episodes about it in the future.

#166

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Posted May 21, 2012 @ 6:33 PM

Interesting that Mr. Grenier had zero interest in finding out his father's parentage. I know that he and his mother [in a repeat of her own mother's non-marital union] never married and soon separated but it's odd that he totally ignored that part of the picture

Adrian did a doc/short film a couple years ago called Shot in the Dark about him reconnecting with his dad. From what I remember, Karesse was a hippie chick and she met Adrian's dad on a commune and seemingly had little interest in him as anything other than a sperm donor. IOW, the situation seems very complicated as far as how Adrian feels about his dad.

For all the candid talk about who was sleeping with who a couple centuries ago, the stories of those still alive and kicking seems to get white washed (no pun intending) sometimes on Skip's show. Which is fine. But as I said before, let's just remember some reverence for our dearly departed. You ARE going to meet these people someday (at least, I hope so. I always "talk" to my ancestors and ask them to show me and tell me all the things I want to know when I meet them for the first time in heaven).

Edited by Madmarsha, May 21, 2012 @ 6:35 PM.


#167

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Posted May 21, 2012 @ 8:11 PM

I watched that Grenier documentary, too. I don't remember much from it, other than thinking Adrian apparently isn't seeing that one parent purposely distanced him from the other one. I wondered if he will realize that one day and be angry. His mother is certainly beautiful though, and otherwise, seemed to raise him with a lot of love.

Michelle Rodriguez totally pings my 'dar, but apparently she's straight.


I've seen video of her making out with another girl, (TMZ I think?), although there's probably at least 50% chance it was to yank the cameraman's chain.

Michelle's story was interesting and kind of sad. She sure had a hard early life. The situation with the childless woman who was kind to the children of her husband's mistress was intriguing. And they were all buried side by side? There's a story there. I thought Michelle favored her grandmother in the face quite a bit. Michelle was a bit blunt about not wanting to be "European" ("Ewww?") but I can understand identifying more with one part of the tree than with another, if that's what she meant.

I always "talk" to my ancestors and ask them to show me and tell me all the things I want to know


Not sure if you meant this too, but I sometimes think, "help me, ancestors!" when I'm really stuck on a brick wall. Ha. I do agree about respecting the dead, ancestor or not. (They don't always, in this series.)

The most interesting part, historically, for me, was the Chavez history. I didn't know there were Native American Jews who emigrated in pre colonial times? Those facial charts sounded a little too much like Nazi eugenics charts to me. (They had facial structures and things too.)

#168

jojodancing

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Posted May 21, 2012 @ 9:06 PM

This show was very interesting - I've lived in South America and the American West. A painting similar to the one they showed defining the races in colonial Latin America hangs in the Denver Art Museum. I didn't connect this until now to the people that I met in South America - some felt very superior about the countries they were from because they had relatively more European blood - now I know it's a sentiment passed down from the conquistadores.

The host really skipped over the mating habits of the conquistadores - I doubt that most of their relationships were consensual. In fact, what I heard was that the Spanish would line up the Native American maidens and have their pick. The Spanish word for "lost" in South America has another meaning regarding the women that "lost" their virtue to the Spaniards.

Interesting that not much was really explained about the Spanish Conquest, even though it was a big part of the history of the American West as well as Latin America.

Edited by jojodancing, May 21, 2012 @ 9:11 PM.


#169

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Posted May 22, 2012 @ 12:18 AM

Not sure if you meant this too, but I sometimes think, "help me, ancestors!" when I'm really stuck on a brick wall

lol, yeah, I did mean that, too. Sometimes they become so "real" to me I think, man, I should just be able to call them up and ask them. I didn't expect that. And it's actually a good feeling because it's not like I miss them since I never met them so it doesn't make me sad.

This was the last one? Bummer. Wish they'd replay his earlier series.

#170

attica finch

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Posted May 22, 2012 @ 11:42 AM

When I moved to the urban area in which I now live, and first encountered a large and varied latino population, one of the things that struck me is something that MR touched on in her own family: scorn by other latinos heaped on people of DR descent. Sometimes the scorn is lighthearted (What can you expect? He's Dominican!), sometimes... not so much. I'm happy to see that kind of thing said out loud, sunlight being the best disinfectant.

MR made me laugh at her reaction to the kissing cousins in her tree. Really, what else can you do?

If Linda Chavez was surprised by her ancestors' Jewish roots, well, that just goes to show: Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

#171

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Posted May 22, 2012 @ 12:45 PM

MR made me laugh at her reaction to the kissing cousins in her tree.

Stealing a running joke from the Sister Wives forum- MR's tree is more like a Family Wreath than a tree.

Skip kind of glossed over the fact that here in the southwest, the Spanish stole Native Americans for slaves for many years. In fact, the Navajos would steal Paiutes and sell to the Spanish so the Spanish would not take Navajos. So not surprised that there would be NA in the mix with anyone with Spanish ancestors. Then as the various clans moved north from Mexico and the lower Americas, there was a bunch of mixing there. The Hispanic classification is more a mix of a lot of different lines than I realized.

I had no idea there were Spanish Jews. Love the education the show provides.

Was this the season finale?

#172

scarlett45

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Posted May 22, 2012 @ 1:23 PM

Well 600 years ago there was no "Hispanic" or "Latino" racial classicification. The group exists due to the relationships between Caucasian Spaniards and the indigenous groups of the North and South American continents. Combine that with the fact that Spain has had a close (and often hostile) relationship with groups from the middle east it makes for quite a melting pot!

#173

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Posted May 24, 2012 @ 6:30 AM

Quote

Quote
Michelle Rodriguez irked me, especially when she was surprised to find out that she is 70% white and acted disappointed at that fact. What if someone were to go on the show and act disappointed at being 70% black and said they wanted to be white? How would that come off? A lot of people seem to think it would be cool to be American Indian. Why can't they just accept what they are?

I see this differently. Today being white is the default IMO. Too many times people, a lot of black people, will say they are any other ethnicity and then put black last, as if being black is something awful, like being a different species. I have heard people speak with disdain about finding out a favorite actress or model is part black, the attitude being is, "I can't like so and so if they have black ancestry." I see where you're coming from, but that attitude is really very rare.


I agree. One of the many consequences of the culture of white supremacy in the Americas is the idea that being white is the norm, so hearing Michelle Rodriguez and Adrian Grenier favoring their non-white ancestry seems like a form of unconscious resistance in my opinion.

This was probably my favorite episode of the series; I'm disappointed it's the end. I thought it was interesting how the Spanish kept those racial paintings to classify the different peoples in the colony, and that they would intermarry within their own families. Latin heritage is definitely multi-layered, I hope to see more episodes about it in the future.


That's interesting, because I see this much differently. Being white is now PC to consider "uncool" so as this show is making clear, it has become PC to openly trash one's white ancestry on TV. Which to me is just as reprehensible as anyone putting down their black ancestry, which I have personally never witnessed on national TV, and for good reason because if it ever happened it would make national headlines and that person would be blackballed. I personally have never witnessed anyone putting down or minimizing having black roots on any TV show and yet I have seen the opposite. I don't advocate either, I'm just reporting my experience.

#174

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Posted May 24, 2012 @ 7:42 AM

That's interesting, because I see this much differently. Being white is now PC to consider "uncool" so as this show is making clear, it has become PC to openly trash one's white ancestry on TV. Which to me is just as reprehensible as anyone putting down their black ancestry, which I have personally never witnessed on national TV, and for good reason because if it ever happened it would make national headlines and that person would be blackballed. I personally have never witnessed anyone putting down or minimizing having black roots on any TV show and yet I have seen the opposite. I don't advocate either, I'm just reporting my experience.


I see your point, but...

I agree. One of the many consequences of the culture of white supremacy in the Americas is the idea that being white is the norm, so hearing Michelle Rodriguez and Adrian Grenier favoring their non-white ancestry seems like a form of unconscious resistance in my opinion.


We still live in a country where white is the norm, white is the default. Turn on TV, look at movies, most of those programs are about white people; you never see lead stories about missing women of color on the Today show, etc. I do think that MR and AG favoring their non-white ancestry was a form of unconscious resistance because we live in a country where the whiter you are the more favored you are, that's just my experience.

Edited by EndoKE, May 24, 2012 @ 7:42 AM.


#175

monty9

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Posted May 24, 2012 @ 7:46 AM

That's interesting, because I see this much differently. Being white is now PC to consider "uncool" so as this show is making clear, it has become PC to openly trash one's white ancestry on TV.


Well in a lot of the cases in this show at least the white ancestry was introduced due to either rape or at the very least an inappropriate power disparity. I can understand the discomfort in that. Michelle Rodriguez might have issues however.

And the day this white, Christian woman cannot make lame white people/frozen chosen/church lady jokes is officially the day that a ladder needs to be bought so that people can get over themselves. Making fun of other peoples culture: not cool. However, making fun of/questioning your own culture is always appropriate and often necessary.

#176

braggtastic

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Posted May 24, 2012 @ 8:42 PM

Linda Chavez looks like an older Hispanic Maggie Gyllenhaal to me. I get get over how similar their faces are.

#177

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Posted May 25, 2012 @ 8:35 AM

This article posted today sounds like a Gates PBS episode in the making. It mentions the servants and slaves having children together (willingly) in the early colonies. I can see Prof. Gates digging into this story more. Interesting history relating to it.

Mysterious Melungeon Origins Solved with DNA.

#178

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Posted May 26, 2012 @ 8:49 AM

Linda Chavez looks like an older Hispanic Maggie Gyllenhaal to me. I get get over how similar their faces are.

Yes!