When I was in graduate school long ago, I found myself in a one on one discussion with a tall, thin fellow crowned with a large afro. During this discussion my friend got a bit angry. At the time that amused me more than it informed me (don’t think fast enough on my feet). Therefore, when my friend said that the gene for black skin was dominate and white skin would eventually fade away, I just asked him if he had looked in a mirror. He got even more steamed, of course, and I was just more amused. I regarded my friend’s concerns about race as futile and therefore foolish. Even though I was correct, I should have expressed my opinion with more kindness.
American blacks are not members of the black race. There is no black race. There is only one human race. What we call racial distinctions are too minor to matter. Yet even if there were a black race, American blacks are “mulattos”, not blacks. Here is what the Online Etymology Dictionary says about the origin of the word “mulatto”.
1590s, “one who is the offspring of a European and a black African,” from Spanish or Portuguese mulato “of mixed breed,” literally “young mule,” from mulo “mule,” from Latin mulus (fem. mula) “mule” (see mule (n.1)); possibly in reference to hybrid origin of mules (compare Greek hēmi-onos “a mule,” literally “a half-ass;” as an adjective, “one of mixed race”). As an adjective from 1670s. Fem. mulatta is attested from 1620s; mulattress from 1805.
American culture, even in its most rigidly segregated precincts, is patently and irrevocably composite. It is, regardless of all the hysterical protestations of those who would have it otherwise, incontestibly mulatto. Indeed, for all their traditional antagonisms and obvious differences, the so-called black and so-called white people of the United States resemble nobody else in the world so much as they resemble each other. [Albert Murray, “The Omni-Americans: Black Experience & American Culture,” 1970]
Old English had sunderboren “born of disparate parents.”
The reference to “a half-ass” probably will probably annoy some, but try looking up the etymology of the word “nice“. Then consider how often you have wanted to be thought of as “nice“. If we knew the origin of all the words we use, would we be tongue-tied? Would that be a good thing?
Anyway, please note Albert Murray‘s comment in the etymological definition above. American blacks share a distinctive heritage, but that heritage is distinctively American. That heritage is also distinctively human. The shared history of slavery, supposedly distinctive to American blacks, has been a common human failing throughout human history, not just American history. Europe, for example, saw plenty of slaves and latter serfs long before slaves were brought to America in 1619.
What is different in America with regard to slavery? Each generation of Americans has strived mightily with blood, sweat and tears to overcome the evil of slavery, and one generation saw nearly 700,000 dead in a bloody civil war over slavery.
Therefore, what should we think when see a memorial to the soldiers of Lost Cause, to those who served the army of the Confederate States of America? To protect the institution of slavery, the South fought the North with an unsurpassed fervor. We need to remember that even the best of men — and the rebels and the women who sent them to war were good people — can be blindly and stubbornly committed to an evil purpose. That is why we each need to carefully examine our own motives and purposes. Anyone can be blind to their own sins.
What about the mulatto character of the complexion of so many Americans? What should we see when we stop to think about this blending of black with white? The often lovely blending of black and white should give us cause for hope. Long ago, far before any record of human history, mankind separated into tribal groups and began an exploration of the world. Eventually those tribal groups, long separated by mountains and oceans, began the process of becoming genetically distinct. Since then we have overcome those mountains and oceans, and we are separated no more. In a world rife with conflict and war, the blending of black with white shows us that peace remains possible. We are still one human race. Because God created each of us His image, we can still live in peace together, but we must each examine ourselves, lest we repeat the mistakes of the past.
Ecclesiastes 1:9-11 New King James Version
9 That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which it may be said,
“See, this is new”?
It has already been in ancient times before us.
11 There is no remembrance of former things,
Nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come
By those who will come after.