I spent this week doing some hunting (more Civil War stuff.) At any rate, I got a little inspired and decided I'd do some initial hunting for my own personal history. I rather easily discovered that my great-great-great grandmother was born in 1830, in Worcester County and was listed as a "Mulatto." Her children, including my great-great grandfather, were also listed as "Mulatto."
I haven't dug enough to figure out what, precisely, that means--beyond the great likelihood that her father was "white." I don't know if it also means she had kids by someone else who was "white." None of this was news. A cursory look at my family reveals (like many "blacks"), not quite an Obama-esque rainbow, but certainly something that could rival any Dominican or Puerto-Rican. Likely, given the pictures of my paternal grandfather, my father's side has a similar story and, I suspect, a little closer to home. Out of sheer family curiosity, I'm going to soon head to the Archives, and then to the Eastern Shore of Maryland (my personal Africa) to run down my full pedigree.
All of that said, every once in awhile you are really struck by how dumb all of this business of "race" is and has always been. Look, I like being "black." As a history-geek, I find the whole story to be a great romance and as thrilling as anything I've ever read in any fantasy novel or comic book. Negroes are Tolkienesque, and I'm pleased to live in that tradition, to be part of that moving, churning history.
But even with all that great story, and romance, every once and while you put down a book and think, "This is all really, fucking stupid. This whole fight--one-drop or no drops--is fucking stupid and I'm embarrassed to be American and thus associated with it." Perhaps even that sense is immature--this is what humans do, in one form or another, across the planet. Still, that just isn't very comforting.
On a lighter note, literally, my dear spouse was greatly amused at receiving confirmation that I was, as she long suspected, "impure." At all events, she has been at pains of laughter to assert that I am yellow or red. I consider myself "honey brown," thank you very much.
On an even lighter note, again literally, if there are any white folks out there with the surname "Smack," hailing from Worcester Country send a kite. Likely, I picked tobacco for you once. But I'm not mad. Much. Cousin.