Just exactly what does it mean to be black and why all the ballyhoo? Is it the color of one’s skin, heritage or the ethnic group with whom you identify with? How does the “one-drop rule” making one black apply? The One Drop Rule, also known as hypodescent, says that in American society if you are even part black African and look it you are considered to be all black African. One drop of African blood is enough to make you black. The actress Halle Berry, for example, is half white. In Brazil she would be considered mixed, in South Africa, Coloured. But in America everyone regards her as black, the same as Naomi Campbell.
On that note let’s take a look at some people you probably didn’t know were Black beginning with present day to medieval times.
Action-movie actor Michael Fosberg evidently didn’t know that he was passing when he played white characters in “Hard to Kill” and “The Presidio.” The man Fosberg had always known as his father, a fair-skinned blonde was actually his stepfather, his mother was a brunette. His biological father and his mother had only been briefly married after his unexpected conception, and well into his career before his mother revealed to him that the man he knew as his father wasn’t and that his real dad was a black man. Fosberg also discovered that the African-American side of his family included a grandfather who was chairman of the science and engineering department at Norfolk State University, Va., and a great-grandfather who was a star pitcher for the Negro Leagues.
“Parks and Recreation” Rashida Jones is the daughter of music mogul Quincy Jones and actress Peggy Lipton.
“Suits” actress Meghan Markle has an African-American mother and a white father.
Maya Rudolph has played a host of racially ambiguous characters. But she’s actually Minnie Ripperton’s daughter with music composer Richard Rudolph.
Producer Cash Warren is most famous for being Jessica Alba’s husband. They don’t look like an interracial couple at first glance. But Cash Warren is actually the son of Hill Street Blues actor Michael Warren.
Troian Bellisario plays a WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) on “Pretty Little Liars,” but her mother is actually African-American actress and TV producer Deborah Pratt.
Darnell Martin producer of “I Like It Like That” in 1994, was the first black woman to write and direct a film for a major Hollywood studio. Darnell’s father was black so the significance wasn’t appropriately acknowledged.
Napoleon Bonaparte wasn’t the French Revolution’s only hero there was also General Alexandre Dumas. Born in what is now Haiti to an aristocrat white father and a black mother who was enslaved, Dumas kept his mother’s family name, however his father raised him in France. There, Dumas completed his education and entered the military, where he became a master of strategy and sword. Dumas rose to the rank of general, led more than 50,000 soldiers and earned a reputation for action. He reportedly captured 13 soldiers singlehandedly, rode into enemy territory to imprison 16 more and led his men up icy cliffs in the dark to surprise opposing forces. Stories of Dumas’ exploits, inspired “The Count of Monte Cristo,” a novel written by his son Alexandre, who also wrote “The Three Musketeers”.
French novelist Alexandre Dumas, author of “The Three Musketeers,” was the son of Gen. Alexandre Dumas and the grandson of a Haitian woman.
In the 18th century, a painting of Queen Charlotte—wife of the British King George III—sparked a series of debate because her facial features seemed more aligned with someone of African heritage.
Released just before Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953, in conjunction with her position as head of the Commonwealth the royal family spelled out its link to African ancestors in a published report. If correct, the royal link to black heritage would mean that Queen Charlotte’s granddaughter, Queen Victoria, was of mixed race. The same goes for her still-living descendants, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, Prince William, and any future heirs.
Consider the father of Russia’s Golden Age of literature, Alexander Pushkin, was born into nobility in the summer of 1799. He was the great-grandson of an Ethiopian prince named Ibrahim Gannibal, who had relocated to Russia and become a general in the army of Peter the Great.
Puskin became a member of a revolutionary group dedicated to social reform and wrote poems that reflected his views. His work, which included “Freedom” and “The Village,” came under scrutiny by Russian authorities and led to his exile in 1820 to his mother’s estate. He left behind an unfinished novel about his Ethiopian great-grandfather.
Proceeding on to the Italian Renaissance there is the powerful banking and political family the Medicis. Alessandro de Medici, the first Duke of Florence, was the first black ruler in Italy, in fact the first black head of state in the Western world, though his African heritage was rarely talked about. He was born in 1510 to a black servant and a white 17-year-old named Giulio de Medici, who would later become Pope Clement VII.
According to an article which appeared in Hong Kongs’ Ming Pao Daily, international study has found that the Chinese people originated from early humans in East Africa who moved through South Asia to China some 100,000 years ago.
Grounded in unbiased facts, truth is mighty and will eventually prevail, leading to the unvarnished truth. The irresistible force of the color Black is truly omnipresent and if the truth was known probably flows through the veins of all humankind.
H. Lewis Smith is the founder and president of UVCC, the United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc. (www.theunitedvoices.com); author of Bury that Sucka: A Scandalous Love Affair with the N-Word. Follow H. Lewis Smith on Twitter: www.twitter.com/thescoop1.0