Monday, June 11, 2007

African American Seeks to Prove A Genetic Link to James Madison

African American Seeks to Prove A Genetic Link to James Madison - Washington Post

I do no care if the founding fathers personally held slaves. Whether each owned slaves does not change the fact that they were, individually and collectively, responsible for a system of government and laws that enslaved people, period. Those that did not hold slaves were no better or worse than others, for they all benefited from and enforced the practice.

Furthermore, any offspring of slave women and slave masters, founding fathers or not, deserve no special recognition beyond any other slave offspring of the time. To recognize them as special is to somehow, posthumously, recognize, and thereby reward, these white men who exploited black women in the most despicable of manners.

As for the comparison between George Washington, who is believed to have freed his slaves upon death, and James Madison, whose slaves were sold instead, we must be careful not to read too much into this difference. Slaves were generally affixed to the actual plantation property, and mortgaged along with it. Settling the indebtedness of the estate was the overriding determinant of whether slaves were sold upon the master’s death. Inasmuch as this settlement was carried out by executors, with only a fiduciary responsibility to the estate and debt holders, the slave master’s wishes, whatever they might be, could only come into play after all debts were paid.

I, for one, am dubious of black people who go looking for their white ancestry with the implicit hope of proving themselves worthy of any kind of attention, due to the fact.

James C. Collier


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Anonymous said...


You wrote:

“I, for one, am dubious of black people who go looking for their white ancestry with the implicit hope of proving themselves worthy of any kind of attention, due to the fact.”

I am inclined to agree. I find it fascinating that some African Americans go very far to try to identify with being of an ancestry of the masters of their slave ancestors.

While, I can understand wanting people to acknowledge their ancestry as often some whites act like that sex between White male slave holders and their Black female slaves never happened or was few and far between, which of course is absurd to anyone with a cursory knowledge of world history or anyone who understands human nature.

However, to wear that ancestry with pride, yet often ignoring ones African heritage, I find utterly inane.

Just my humbler opinion.

Rethabile said...

Wow. It goes a lot in approaching America to apartheid South Africa, where some black people clung to and went far to prove their link to a white fore-parent. Some went even as far as changing surnames in order to be thought partly white. And this is still happening in America?

If you flip the coin, however, I'm sure many whites who have a link to black ancestry run away from it, rather than embrace it. Right?

I don't think anybody in their right mind should care whether FF had slaves themselves or not. They condoned the system. It would be like saying that president W did not actually go into Iraq: the soldiers, however, did, so they're to blame.

Anonymous said...


Re: the last paragraph of your post, aren't you being just a little cynical about her/their motives?

Frankly, I think it would be a hoot, if the only living direct descendants of the wretch are African Americans.

In any case, after reading the article and your post I do not share your conclusions about her/their motives. She has information passed down from one generation to the next which she wants to verify. She has a right to know everything she possibly can about her personal history.

I fully support any diasporic African's desire to unravel her/his past using all the tools that are available today. For me this is part of reclaiming self, of understanding and knowing as much as we possibly can about the specifics that contribute to who we are today.

I also think that establishing these links are part of the ongoing re-telling of American history as well and critical in holding specific people accountable for their personal dirty deeds.

James C. Collier said...

CT: In the past it was very common for Blacks to assume the relative position of their masters (vis-a-vis other Blacks), the way children assume the socio-economic station of their parents. If they could show blood relationships, all the better. Revelations of wretchedness are generally not the aim, while raising individual stature, and gaining beneficial access, as a founding 'family member', lurks nearby. These men were wealthy and perhaps they seek a claim on their estates, except that consorting with slaves, forced or not, was not illegal, nor did it confer inheritance rights on any progeny, at the time.

Anonymous said...

Im half black and half indian and I dont feel a connection to african people at all or southern black people. I things its insulting to be called african american I know very little about africa and what I have learned and experienced I just dont feel the connection. I dont hate black people I have a few black friends but im not looking for any white person to save me either! I have always been told you act like a white boy which I find realy stupid , I act like I was raised American!

Anonymous said...

Here is the double standard in American, You can take a white boy born and raised in africa, when his parents up root him and move to american. When he runs for an african american award he is suspended from school cause it caused racial tension. Sad someone who is a legit African American being called racist cause of his skin color. Yet you have young black youth looking down on the ones studing getting an education and saying there acting White. Ummm what does acting Black entitle.