I recently reviewed the African-American Lives 2 DVD for the EDGE, which is in stores today. The PBS special is inspiring, educational and fascinating to watch. The legendary Henry Louis Gates, Jr. breaks down the complex family history of black icons and celebrities like Tina Turner, Chris Rock, Maya “Not Without Missy Clinton” Angelou and more.
There are so many great moments in this four-episode series, but the clincher is when Gates tackles the assumption of nearly every black American on the planet who insists they have “Indian” in their family. He debunks the myth quite brilliantly, but it’s when he gets to Tina Turner -- I had to hold my Nutbush mule.
Anna Mae Bullock has been saying she is “mixed” for decades, claiming both her grandparents were Native American. After my first African-American Studies course, I always gave the accented diva the crooked eye, considering Native Americans and black Americans were not this happy-go-lucky union as people romanticize.
Tina has marketed this “Indian” in her family so much that people actually believed it and she is listed on the official government site of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as being, “Navajo and Cherokee”.
So, when Gates tells Tina, “You are only 1% Native American”—it was like Maury Povich said, “You are NOT the baby’s father!” For a few seconds, Tina had the most dumbfounded look on her face, it was as if her wig popped off and she started tumblin' down the river! Now, all we need is a genetic test on Tiger “Don’t Call Me Black” Woods -- throw Vin Diesel in the mix too!
Gates explained, “Only one in twenty African-Americans have any significant Native American ancestry.” Funny thing is, the reason for being Native American is “high cheek bones”, but high cheek bones are not a physical trait particular to any Native American tribe. Many West Africans have high cheek bones and the Japanese are known for high cheek bones. Some black folks will believe anything to be anything but black.
Tina’s spirit looked a bit calm when Gates confirmed that while she didn’t have Navajo in her family, she is 33% European—and that doesn’t even include the pseudo British accent!
Posted by Clay ::
12:00 AM ::