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Develop models for success

Melvin B. Miller
Develop models for success
“He had his DNA analyzed. He says he’s descended from an African king.”

A common attribute of human beings everywhere is the desire to be respected by members of one’s family and have a place within the tribal structure. Rejection can provoke a violent reaction. Youngsters involved in violence are often known to assert that they are responding to being disrespected. It has been difficult for Blacks to be able to maintain respectful treatment in America.

It should also be noted that many in this social media culture prize becoming a celebrity. This status extends respect to many others. People now have greater interest in knowing more about their progenitors. Firms such as Ancestry and 23andMe have flourished by providing genetic information. Although many people do not admit it, they hope to find that they are descendants from a distinguished genetic line.

A more useful objective would be to learn from the WGBH program, “Finding Your Roots,” produced by Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, how celebrities’ ancestors have come to America and how they have succeeded. The stories of Blacks who came in chains to work as slaves on Southern plantations is indeed discouraging. Similarly, Europeans who fled the violence of religious zealots or the persecution of racial bigots intent on genocide were not necessarily welcomed to the new world.

While European immigrants were discriminated against, they were not immediately identified as aliens by their skin color. They were all white. Their religion, language and cultural practices set them apart from one another. Discrimination against Blacks could begin on sight because of their color.

“Finding Your Roots” enables the audience to see what difference racial identification makes. Africans are not quite so obsessed with color. The defining issue is tribal connection. When planning future strategies to attain equal rights in America, perhaps it is time to think beyond race and color. Just how did European peasants come to America and create an opportunity for their children to acquire wealth and general respect? 

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