Speaking My Mind

Supporting The Right To Be White, Multiracial White or Multiracial & Against The Improper Public Posting Of Personal Genealogy Information & Family Trees By Others

With SE Ohio Ancestors, Elders & Descendants In Mind; Racial Or Culturial Self-Identification 

 

HANDS.jpg picture by sterry46There seems to be more conflict with other surnames (such as Hill-Mayle, etc) in this area of discussion, rather than my Tabler relatives who are closely related and descend nearer to the earlier Tabler lineages. Most of the Tablers, that I know well, are open, or can at least joke about the diverse racial issues.

So, logically I would think that if someone who is multiracial can self-identify as black, then they should also be able to self-identify as white, or Native American etc.  I think that someone who is of mixed ancestry who decides to self-identify by one racial group or culture, it will most likely be the one a person most closely associates with, so this is understood about groups of families from SE Ohio Tabler history, or similar families across the United States who have been told, taught or lived something their whole lives.  In this day and age families like this are fascinating to those in the mainstream.  It's honorable to hold on to traditions for the right reasons and in a proud and more accurate way, but I do feel that the offspring from this type of history should also have the right to decide for themselves how they wish to identify.  To do so it would only be helpful to understand their beginning family history, other lineages of race or culture they descend from, and the history of our nation in general.   

What I see happening, still, is that if anyone from this type of diverse culture identifies with anything other than colored (a term that would offend modern mainstream blacks), black (they would have no idea what it is like to truly be black), WIN (White, Indian, Negro; a abbreviation given to them by who?) or Indian (which no one seems to mind as much as white and in no way are the Indian-identifers ever black!), they find themselves accused of "passing", which is an ancient and racist term.  This does not plaque me for myself one way or the other, because I know better; I know who I am, but it does touch a special cord in my heart for my mother's generations and before. 

Motab2.gif picture by sterry46

gpasside.gif picture by sterry46In the words of A.D. Powell, "These types of families were subjected to "documentary genocide" (a phrase coined by Brent Kennedy) and the lynching of reputations.  They were all declared "black" because some paper or ancestral document has the telltale words "black", "Negro", "Colored" or "mulatto".  People who adhere to this without educating themselves are just as guilty as the people who took their choices away back then.

In this day and age people assume what ever they want about a person's race by the way the person looks, which is fine, actually that's the way it has always been.  No one has to wear a sign to declare their race, but in small mixed-race cultures such as Appalachian Ohio with the region’s rich, diverse culture and heritage "some" of the people still live by the often silent code passed down by, at one time, society, but more often than not, their own families.  This code is supported by days gone by of slavery.  A "one drop" rule that no longer exists in modern society.  The code says that  they are black or colored.  Still slaves??  In this modern era many go with the flow of the code, then "pass", as it is called, but never come right out and admit it.  Some still label by a surname, but times are changing in that area, so the people of this diverse culture are only labeling themselves.  Some still truly believe they are colored or a special group of people, which I do agree that they are special if they stayed in the area and inner-married into others with known mixed-race ancestry.  That would definitley make them more mixed, now wouldn't it?  But often times the mixes still produce, by appearance, white people, or some very pretty Indians.  Now how could that be if the Tablers are all so black?  I know all of the inner workings as to why these families in the area identify the way they do, and everyone has the right to do as they please, but one shouldn't impose their codes on others, and not expect others to do the same to them.   Zakes Mda is already making light of this type of communitiy and tradition.  It won't surprise me if that is the turn this takes for the future.     

Despite the  knowledge of history, and the  knowledge that  race is a  social  construct; race and varying  physical  features are the reality.  It's  commonly known, to  anyone  who pays attention, that most of our world is multiracial or multicultural. I also know and accept the mainstream thinking that comes from the social construct...you are  assumed to be what you look like.  There are obviously different characteristics to people of other nationalities or cultures, call it race or not. It's a  fascinating  subject.  I myself agree that, "You are  what you look like, or you can be  what you  look like  if you so choose."  Either  way  whatever choice of racial self-identification a person makes, they have no right to impose their choice on anyone else, nor do I.  I will however, not hide my choice, I will not hide the white ancestors that every Tabler descendant has, or pretend to fit in somewhere that I haven't, as they say, lived the experience.  Whether I've lived it or not, or whether anyone likes it or not, I may not fit into the 'lived experience culture club', but I do claim my right to be a white Tabler with multiculturial ancestry due to my "three direct", closely related early family lines.  My mother lived the so called 'experience' and came out of it knowing who she was, not without inner struggle I'm sure, but she quietly stood by who she saw and felt herself to be.  I am more of a close and true Tabler descendant than many who criticize my simple intelligent and accurate claims.l    I have a diverse ancestry that consists mainly of European, but God forbid I should call myself white.  I really don't think 'He' cares.

One might remember that over time Tabler descendants have branched out in many different directions becoming a very large and diverse family.  I have no secrets about my choices or why.  So, if you look white, to me, you are.  It really shouldn't matter either way, but it does to certain people.  Yes, I think it's silly to look one color and call yourself another, but to each his own.  People shouldn't go around secretly "passing", it's hipocritical.  I embrace my heritage and that is what is important to me.  Some people in the families do shy away from their history and their cousins.  I don't...that should speak volumes ! 

"One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the 'unique identities' of each of us as complex human beings."  ~Franklin Thomas
 

If you as parents cut corners, your children will too. If you lie, they will too. If you spend all your money on yourselves and tithe no portion of it for charities, colleges, churches, synagogues, and civic causes, your children won't either. And if parents snicker at racial and gender jokes, another generation will pass on the poison adults still have not had the courage to snuff out. 
~ Marian Wright Edelman
 



We all are a blend, yet it's a mistake to allow others to define us by our ethnic or cultural histories