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Check out your ancestry, Americans

  • Author: Shannyn Moore
    | Opinion
  • Updated: August 19
  • Published August 19

I have a little box on my desk waiting patiently for my spit. Yes, spit. My mom gave me a DNA test for my birthday.

I'm not sure why I've been hesitant to put a sample in that vial. You can't fail a DNA test, can you?

I've already done the Ancestry page searches and found out just how white I am. How American I am. It was addictive to read about my ancestral line, which included a grandfather hung for participating in the Bacon Rebellion.

I guess taking on governors is genetic. Another grandfather was Brig. Gen. William Woodford. He fought in the French and Indian War and was friends with George Washington.

Woodford was a tremendous strategist during our fight for independence. He was captured and died on a prison ship in New York. The British buried him at the Old Trinity Church.

I've read the letters Washington wrote to him. This makes me feel American.

So much of who we think we are is tied up in where we came from. My folks' families are both from the colony of Virginia. Britain before that. When the Civil War came, they weren't in a part of the country that was definitely South.

In fact, the Mason-Dixon Line not only split that state, it tore our families apart. There were sons fighting on opposite sides, writing their mothers from the 10-month-long siege of Petersburg. That makes me sad.

Some would like to see the current fight over Confederate monuments and symbols flare into another civil war. "White Pride" is a movement of people too lazy to know more about themselves than the color of their skin.

It's pretty simple to find the little green leaf on the Ancestry site and find out when your family made it to Ellis Island, Jamestown or however you got here, unless your people were brought on a slave ship. Then you really don't have a culture to look back on. Your history was stolen and sold to the highest bidder.

I read about a "gun-slinging white supremacist" named Craig Cobb this week. He had a DNA test and found out he is 86 percent European and 14 percent sub-Saharan African. Now he's on a mission to prove DNA tests aren't real. If that doesn't work out, we'll probably find him burning a cross in his own yard.

I don't like the Confederate flag. It doesn't make me feel proud. When I see Alaskans with it in their yards or flying off their trucks, I shake my head. It's the flag of people who were willing to split the country in half to perpetuate slavery. They lost and we're still united states, at least for now.

The defense of the Confederacy, "white power" plays, and Nazi marches are front page news. Monuments that Confederate commander Robert E. Lee opposed are the subject of tugs-of-war across the country. Won't change the results of the Civil War, though. The South still lost.

Most of these monuments were put up in the Jim Crow era. Men marching with Tiki torches and offering Nazi and Ku Klux Klan salutes are finding themselves photographed, with their employers asking whether they will welcome Nazis back to their workplaces.

The poor marchers feel victimized because people are judging them for their Nazi values. Sad.

Here's a clue: if you idolize hateful ideologies that lose wars, you may actually be a loser. You can't be a Nazi and a nice person. A woman is dead and people injured because an impressionable, hate-filled young white man ran them down with his car.

At least the white supremacist Steve Bannon is no longer working as President Trump's chief strategist. That's a start.

In my ancestry search, I discovered people in my family owned slaves. That sickens me — stealing the lives of innocent people.

That's part of my American story.

As ugly as recent events of racism are, they come from even uglier seeds buried in our country's past. So I hope you won't ever hesitate to call out hate. Going backwards is not a path to the future.

Shannyn Moore is a radio broadcaster.

The views expressed here are the writer's and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary@alaskadispatch.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@alaskadispatch.com. 

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