A few years ago, I was curious about my ancestry and I had my DNA tested. The results, I am:
- 43% Northern European
- 36% Mediterranean
- 19% Southwest Asian
- 2% East African
If you ever meet me, you will notice the European characteristics are dominate. My skin is white, but I am not fair skinned. My eyes are blue. My hair was blond until I was six or seven years old, then it started to turn brown.
In America, race has always been a hot button issue and it is at the heart of a lot of conflict among our citizens. Now that I know about my heritage, I am more interested in the conflict and have a greater desire to improve the situation.
Here are my confessions as a white American.
I know some of my ancestors were racist and some were criminals. I know they fought against civil rights and they joined the Confederate Army.
I am not proud of what they did, but I don’t feel guilty about it. These things happened before I was even born. I am not responsible for their actions, and I am nothing like them.
I wish I could talk openly to people from various minority groups. I would love to ask questions and hear what they have to say about the American culture and race relations. However, I am afraid my questions my sound offensive and that is not my intent at all.
I want to talk to someone old enough to remember the civil rights movements in the 1960’s and 1970’s, to see what they believe has improved and has not improved. To hear what they think should be done today.
I want to talk to young people that are a part of minority groups. I wonder what discrimination they have endured. I am sure there are things happening in our society that I never noticed, because I am white and it has not effected me personally. However, those things would effect someone that is not white and they would be very aware of the situation.
I teach my niece to never judge people based on things like skin color, race, religion, or ethnic origin. Instead, you should look at their actions and their character. That will tell you what you need to know about the person.
Is telling her that enough? Is there more that I should tell her?
I have no control over my skin color or my ancestors. I don’t want to be judged by those things and I don’t want to be the kind of person that judges others by such things.
I understand there are things that I will never experience as a white American that other races will be forced to endure.
I also don’t want to offend anyone or be insensitive. I just want to learn more about the issues and feel free to ask questions. I know I will never understand it the same way as someone who lives it, but I want to try. I want to be better than my ancestors and I want to teach my niece to be better than our ancestors.