My kit arrived at their ship on the 5th of July. It takes 2-5 weeks for processing on average so I should hear something back in August.
I’ve decided that I will make a paid account to ancestry.com when it is closer to time. This is because my family history is supposedly well charted on there per my mother. One of my Aunts (my father’s uncle’s wife) has spent a good deal of time on there mapping out that side of the family. My mother says that she did what she could of her family a few years ago.
Interesting in its own way but I did not think much of it until a few evenings ago. I was reading in the tub when a bolt of enlightenment smashed into the back of my skull.
It started with the realization of my grandfather’s parentage. Somehow a very simple fact had escaped me. My paternal grandfather was not a black man. As someone who has always casually checked the ‘black/African american’ box with the understanding that there was some native american tossed in there, it was a startling moment.
To step back:
My parents are from very different areas. My father’s family for the last few generations is heavily situated around the Maryland and Washington, DC. His mother’s side dips down into Virginia.
My mother is from the Caribbean. Her mother came to the states when my mother was a baby to make a better life for them. Chunks of their family had moved to New York and Canada which is how my mother wound up growing up in New York and spending her summers in Canada.
They met in Baltimore. My mother was going to Catholic boarding school. Not because she was bad but because my grandmother did not want New York to consume her daughter. One of the nuns was an ‘Aunt’ of my father and introduced them. My mother did complete school and go to college.
To move forward again:
My father was a light skinned black man (or so I thought). I look like a female version of him. This has always caused a bit of confusion when I am with my brother. My brother is tall and slim, darker and looks nothing like my father. It was as if my mother had a child that mirrored her side of the family and one that mirrored my father’s. It is hard to tell that my brother and I are siblings except for the family nose inherited from my father. That was even passed down to my brother’s unfortunate child. As I age, I look a bit more like my maternal grandmother in head shape but it takes a lot of intimate knowledge of the family to know where these things come from.
Another aside is my cousins. My mother is an only child. My father had two siblings, one older and one younger. To stir family skeletons, his older sister is a half sister by his mother. She was given up for adoption when his mother was a teenager and had her. His younger sister is a full sister but family rumor is that she is also a half sister. His/their father was ill and dying with tuberculosis when she was conceived. She is the exact image of a cousin their mother was very friendly with.
I bring this up because the dichotomy of my brother and I not looking alike extends to all of our siblings.
My father had two children. My brother and I. We look nothing alike.
His older, half sister had two children. Both female. They look nothing like each other. The older of the two girls and I could come from the same family if someone told you.
His younger sister has 4 children. Her oldest has a different father from the younger three. He looks nothing like any of them or us. He favors his father. Her next two are boys. They look nothing alike. The older of those two resembles her mother’s line. The younger kind of her. The youngest also resembles our grandmother’s line. None of them carry any characteristics or features of my paternal grandfather. Not that they have to but genetics are genetics.
If you lined up the eight of us, you’d never guess we where related to each other. I’ve always found it odd. Maybe they will join in on the DNA tests one day.
Let’s wade out of the dirty laundry and look at ancestry. The realization of my father’s ethnicity came when I realized that his grandfather (who was in the mob at one point) was a man from Puerto Rico. I remember the stories of him passing as white. He was blond and blue eyed with creamy skin. I assumed he was a very light skinned black man from this. It does happen and the few cousins that I have met where often red haired and blond or very golden brown with blue, green, and hazel eyes. I always felt quite the dud. Golden brown skin, dark brown hair and dark brown eyes. My only glory was that my hair turns red when it gets some sunlight.
My grandfather, however was not black. He was Latino. That wide web for those born in Latin America. He married a woman who was from the Cherokee Nation. They had nine children, and one of them was my grandfather.
It means my parental grandfather was not a black man.
I asked my mother about my paternal grandmother’s parents.
My paternal grandmother’s father was a man who was half black and half white. He would have been born in the early 1900’s. Her mother was a woman that was quarter white, quarter black, and half native american.
Run the numbers and that means my father is 1/8 black from his parents and gives 1/16th to myself and my brother. So my father, who I have always thought of as a black man, was very much not.
It seems quite odd that I’ve gotten his ethnicity wrong for so long. It does not ‘matter’ in the big world of mattering. But, I find these things curious. I assumed and did not question which isn’t like me.
As we held this discussion I asked my mother if she was any weirder then I thought. She smiled. Her father she knows little of. Getting birth and death records in the Caribbean is hard. She does know that he has 60+ children. She was one of the illegitimate ones. Her had two wives who both knew he had the other one. One had ten children. One had nine. The other forty some are illegitimate. It still makes my head spin as it did the day that she discovered all of that.
Then she told me that her grandmother was Pakistani.
I find all of this fascinating. Nothing about me has changed. I am even more of a mutt then I thought. But, as someone who grew up as a colored person in a predominantly black area, I assumed that I was just like everyone else. Now, perhaps thirty years to late to be helpful, I discover that I was actually always the odd man out.
Sometimes I think my family background is enough to make me crave boredom in my life. Around every corner is scandal and wild crazy things like having 60+ half aunts/uncles.
My brother by the way married a woman from the Ukraine and had a child with her. His daughter has my coloring and looks like his wife and my mother. Genetics are so weirdly fascinating.
And that’s how I learned that I’m about half black by the numbers. The genetic test will be interesting to see what passed on to me and what didn’t. To my amusement, the accusations that rang through my childhood of not being black enough have a strange truth to them.