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Old 02-27-2021, 03:59 PM
 
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Skip gates does it again. In a recent episode on the ancestry of Roseanne Cash, daughter of Johnny Cash, Finding your roots confirmed old rumors from the 60's about Johnny Cash's wife, Vivian cash, who once stirred controversy because she was suspected to be of negro descent.

Gates has an odd preoccupation with "passing" as a subject, and enjoys exposing passers by fishing out any black ancestor he can find. So when Roseanne Cash was on the show, he knew what he was doing. He successfully found "mulatto" census records, a paper trail to a slave, manumission records, and a DNA test confirming that Vivian Cash indeed had a black ancestor - just one though.

While it was interesting that he confirmed old rumors about Cash's wife, these kinds of episodes seem to be more about sensationalism than ancestry. He's like today's Walter Plecker or Naomi Drake, who exposed passing negros for a living and enjoyed what they did.

Surely there were plenty of interesting stories to tell about the other 97% of Roseanne Cash's ancestry. No?
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Old 02-27-2021, 06:28 PM
 
Location: Coast of Somewhere Beautiful
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Must respectfully disagree with you. I thought it was a very interesting episode, as are most of his shows. Her DNA reflected Saharan ancestors, and his team tracked down paper records to reflect its source. Very few of the multitude of Americans with African DNA have any knowledge from which branch it comes. As I recall, he found similar results in Clint Black's DNA, didn't he? From my perspective, in no way did he "confirm" Vivian Cash was African American, at least any more so than so many other white Americans.

Dr. Gates has never shied away from emphasizing the relationship between whites and blacks in America. If you are not comfortable with that, there are probably better shows to watch.
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Old 02-27-2021, 06:35 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PawleysDude View Post
Must respectfully disagree with you. I thought it was a very interesting episode, as are most of his shows. Her DNA reflected Saharan ancestors, and his team tracked down paper records to reflect its source. Very few of the multitude of Americans with African DNA have any knowledge from which branch it comes. As I recall, he found similar results in Clint Black's DNA, didn't he? From my perspective, in no way did he "confirm" Vivian Cash was African American, at least any more so than so many other white Americans.

Dr. Gates has never shied away from emphasizing the relationship between whites and blacks in America. If you are not comfortable with that, there are probably better shows to watch.
Why is it notable to point out that a white person is 3% black? That says little about that persons ancestry.

You don't see the racist undertones to that? Gates was basically trying to prove that what all the racists in the 60s were saying about Vivian Cash was RIGHT.
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Old 02-27-2021, 07:13 PM
 
Location: Coast of Somewhere Beautiful
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tritone View Post
...Gates was basically trying to prove that what all the racists in the 60s were saying about Vivian Cash was RIGHT.
He did exactly what he does every week - Interprets DNA results of his guests, and whenever possible, ties that into their paper trail. Johnny Cash's records indicated a similar relationship, as did Clint Black's DNA. He did not handle that any differently than he did with Vivian Cash. The same is true for many Americans, particularly those with early southern ancestors. To say that Dr. Gates was trying to prove anything is simply looking for an argument regarding race. This is the wrong forum to find it.
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Old 02-28-2021, 09:11 AM
 
Location: Colorado (PA at heart)
9,653 posts, read 15,129,799 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tritone View Post
Why is it notable to point out that a white person is 3% black? That says little about that persons ancestry.
Genealogy TV shows always show only a small percentage of one's family tree. They just don't have time to go into more of it, plus much of it might not be very interesting. Yet you only take issue with it when that small percentage is race based?

Statistically, it's unlikely for white Americans to have unknown non-white backgrounds, therefore, when it happens, it's a point of interest and obviously going to get some attention. I don't see anything wrong with that.

Quote:
You don't see the racist undertones to that? Gates was basically trying to prove that what all the racists in the 60s were saying about Vivian Cash was RIGHT.
They might have been right that she had an African American ancestor - that doesn't mean they're right about being racist. There's a difference. On the contrary, if he had discovered it and chosen not to mention it on the show, he'd only be supporting the idea that white people having black ancestry is something to hide, something to be ashamed of, when we all know it's not, and shouldn't ever be.

As an African American himself, and a historian/genealogist, it's only natural that Gate's interests lean in that direction when he finds it. There's nothing wrong with that. And to my knowledge, he doesn't find African American ancestry among people who consider themselves white very often. Maybe I missed some episodes, but the only other white celebrity I recall having African American ancestry was Liv Tyler, and she wasn't even on Finding Your Roots, she was on Who Do You Think You Are. Gates does tend to have a lot of black celebrities on his show, and that's okay, but when he does have white people on the show, I don't recall many/any of them having black ancestry.

Honestly, the only person here coming across as having an obsession with race is you.
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Old 02-28-2021, 10:29 AM
 
Location: North America
3,579 posts, read 1,258,143 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tritone View Post
Skip gates does it again. In a recent episode on the ancestry of Roseanne Cash, daughter of Johnny Cash, Finding your roots confirmed old rumors from the 60's about Johnny Cash's wife, Vivian cash, who once stirred controversy because she was suspected to be of negro descent.

Gates has an odd preoccupation with "passing" as a subject, and enjoys exposing passers by fishing out any black ancestor he can find. So when Roseanne Cash was on the show, he knew what he was doing. He successfully found "mulatto" census records, a paper trail to a slave, manumission records, and a DNA test confirming that Vivian Cash indeed had a black ancestor - just one though.

While it was interesting that he confirmed old rumors about Cash's wife, these kinds of episodes seem to be more about sensationalism than ancestry. He's like today's Walter Plecker or Naomi Drake, who exposed passing negros for a living and enjoyed what they did.

Surely there were plenty of interesting stories to tell about the other 97% of Roseanne Cash's ancestry. No?
The anomalies in one's ancestry are more interesting than the common elements.

My wife did a DNA test. She has a German name and was quite aware of her German background, as well as her French-Canadian and Scandinavian ancestry. But that small - less than 2% - bit from Iberia is what most caught her eye and intrigued her.

It's the odd, unexpected parts of one's past that tend to fascinate people. At least, those who aren't triggered by such revelations. That's normal.
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Old 02-28-2021, 12:24 PM
 
Location: The High Desert
10,464 posts, read 5,629,176 times
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I like Henry Gates and his approach to exploring participants’ ancestry and their ancestral experience. It tends to focus on hardship because his guests are celebrity performers or otherwise famous and seem largely untouched by hardship in the popular perception. That makes for entertainment. He goes for the gee whiz factor whether it is Holocaust survivors or victims, potato famine survivors, former slaves or slave owners, or some tragic experience. He is an expert on the black experience and black history so that is a thread that goes through the series. He also points out how “white” his black guests are and when a white guest has black ancestry he will point that out as well. He will ferret out what the circumstances were if he can. More often than not, the guest has no knowledge of the people involved. The reactions to these revelations is interesting and varied. The subtle point being made in those instances is that racial mixing in the US is more common than some like to believe or admit and family stories tend to create a myth or just ignore it. He only has an hour so he has to pull the story out that is most interesting for the multiple guests. He knows much more than he can tell since he provides a huge family tree chart to each guest with only a fraction mentioned in the series.

Gates, himself, has a huge “white” percentage in his own ancestry and has no qualms about exploring that angle. If a viewer is particularly sensitive to race issues they might see that as a crusade or obsession. It would be wrong to pretend that such ancestry doesn’t exist if it is revealed during research. The technology and research strategy used is quite interesting and goes beyond what is likely available to most genealogy hobbyists. There are also limitations to the research and finding one needle in the haystack doesn’t mean there are not others or that the circumstances are exactly as presented. First and foremost this is entertainment.
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Old 02-28-2021, 01:10 PM
 
7,437 posts, read 4,628,222 times
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Finding Your Roots is a TV show, hence it's entertainment!

Sure there is a science aspect to the show, i.e. the DNA testing, but overall I have no issues on how and what Henry wants to present and/or show for each episode with regards to each guest.
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Old 02-28-2021, 03:37 PM
 
827 posts, read 343,710 times
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Both sides of Roseanne Cash's family, maternal and paternal, had black ancestry of a small percentage. Only those who are racist or have fear of a one drop rule permeating their own ancestry, have a problem with accurate results.
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Old 02-28-2021, 04:31 PM
 
Location: Cumberland
5,642 posts, read 8,997,150 times
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Is anyone familiar with Dr. Gates surprised at all that he has an interest in how mixed race people lived and "passed" in American society? He has always been very upfront about being both an African-American, and a person with significant white ancestry. He is from my hometown, well his father's family, the Gates, are at least. He spent a lot of time here when he was growing up. His hometown is only about 20 miles away in Piedmont, WV.

I lived on the same street as many of his paternal relatives growing up.

Last edited by westsideboy; 02-28-2021 at 05:28 PM..
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