Tuesday, October 03, 2006
black & white
The school that made me, Achimota School in Accra, Ghana, has a black and white crest modelled on the piano, a play on the idea that you can't make good music with only the black keys or only the white keys. BTW the school was founded long before Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney sang Ebony & Ivory (yes, youtube have it!) - maybe we should ask for a cut of the royalties! Anyway, the old boys network just passed info on to me about a fund-raising website to help keep it in its glory so I guess I have to dig into my pockets pre-winter after all :) The website is www.ac2010.org if you're feeling generous! So... in the way random things happen to me that my mind manages to link or make sense of, I was doing research for some writing I'm doing and came across this interesting bit of information from wikipedia - "from age 16, millions of African-American men disappear from the census but women do not. In 2000, this came to 2.77 million individuals. Where did they go?" My first response, of course was, "why are you asking me? You built the prisons!" But then I thought they actually do count prisoners and 2.77 million prisoners would be an awful lot of prisoners to "disappear" (new usage learnt from my friend Hisham Matar when he wrote about what Qaddafi did to his father)... Not even Dubya could manage that... Then I read on... "The assumption... is that they redefined themselves as White." Of course, this is me diluting a lot of information, but the bottom line is, Dave Chappelle may not be the only Black man in the KKK; it's believed that a third of US Americans who identify themselves as white, have African ancestry. Though it's hard to believe, births were not officially recorded with the races of the parents in the US until about 1800. African people started arriving in the US in 1619 as indentured slaves - along with white slaves - who could work their way out of debt (and thus go free) almost 100 years before slavery was specifically linked to race in 1705 when the 'Slave Codes' came into effect. That means for close to 200 years, a child that was born and was 'light' enough would be assumed to be white, and by the time birth certificates kicked in - especially in the period between 1880 and 1965 when the US became obsessed with recording people's 'racial' origin - there would have been so many of them that they were, in fact, just 'American'. Being the nerd that I am, I extrapolated that against the 2000 US Census and the figure (of 1/3 of self-identified white having African ancestry) means the US is 50% white and that's not even counting the self-identified whites who may have Native American ancestry... Interesting stuff! Time for a Black President, or maybe, time for genetic tests on all the past US presidents... OK, I've messed about enough now - back to work!