Racist America’s Atrocious Color Line

(2 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Was not Michelle Obama her great-great-great-grandfather’s granddaughter?

The First Family: A New Glimpse of Michelle Obama’s White Ancestors

We knew that the Sunday article about Mrs. Obama’s white ancestors would stir considerable interest so we decided to invite readers to pose questions and make comments. We never imagined that one of those readers would provide us with the first glimpse of two key figures in the first lady’s family tree: The white man who owned Mrs. Obama’s great-great-great grandmother, Melvinia Shields, and his son, who most likely fathered Melvinia’s child.

The photo came from Jarrod Shields, a science teacher at a community college in Alabama who also happens to be the great-great-great grandson of Henry Wells Shields. He was getting ready to mow the lawn when his wife, Tonya, got a call about the article and called him to come inside. Jarrod had grown up knowing that his family had once owned slaves and always wondered what happened to their descendants. His wife sent me an e-mail this week, outlining her husband’s connection to the Shields family, along with the photograph.

When I spoke to Jarrod by phone, he told me that he hoped that he might be able to meet his extended black family, he said of the descendants of the slaves his ancestors had owned. “I always really wanted to say I was sorry.

Why is Jarrod sorry?  

“I always really wanted to say I was sorry. I also wanted to let them know that we’re glad that you’re part of our family, however it came about.”


The sentiment is appreciated but why should Jarrod be sorry and Michelle not sorry?  Didn’t they both have the same ancestry?

The obvious goodwill and good intentions of Jarrod Shields leave a bitter aftertaste to those who will see instead of only feel.

As long as there is “them” and “us” based only on an insane and uncertain color line, there will continue to be armies of victims like Trayvon Martin on both sides of the line.

The lines extend far beyond the separate and unequal societies to a very lethal effect on scientific medical research as one example.

Best,  Terry


  1. terryhallinan

    politicians, journalists, academics, doctors, scientists and others drawing idiot color lines.

  2. tahoebasha3

    And, frankly, I think the racial divide grew stronger since the Bush Adm.  Politicians, the media, etc. have done a damn good job of stirring up the hatred.

    With the advent of the election of Obama, I was very proud.  (I was at that rally in Chicago, too).  I thought, maybe, we, as a nation, had finally become more sophisticated in our views and behavior.  Well, I guess I was really wrong with those sentiments.  It’s one thing to find fault with Obama’s policies, etc., which I view as not having changed from that of the Bush Adm., but it’s quite another thing to show utter hatred, such as has been demonstrated by the Republicans and the Tea Party people.  The Republicans lost badly in the 2008 election, but not only did they lose badly, they lost to a black man and they have never recovered from it.  And, face it, they have done everything to obstruct any kind of progress to be made on major issues.

    Anyway, I’ve been seething since the verdict in the Zimmerman case.  Florida is a redneck State and Republican.  I hoped against hope that justice would be served a deceased 17 year old boy, unarmed, shot and killed by a grown man.  It has made me utterly nauseous, outraged, feeling great sorrow for the Martin family and worried for the future.

    I wonder when, if ever, we can grow up and view people for what their characters are, the kind of persons they are, without regard to race, religion, etc.

    Much of Europe is far more sophisticated than we!  

  3. terryhallinan

    In Germany there are many Turks who have lived there for generations and are not citizens.  

    On the other hand, Germans, however they may be distinguished living elsewhere through generations, become eligible for citizenship instantly.

    I could apply for and be granted Irish citizenship and so could my grandchildren and great-grandchildren, even though none of us had ever been to Ireland.

    But those of largely Native American extraction who have come across our southern border without the messy business of applying for citizenship are not eligible.

    The crazy patchwork of prejudices is absent nowhere but it is generally more virulent in the U.S. than elsewhere because The Constitution is what decides citizenship in the U.S. rather than ethnicity or imaginary race.

    Irish “Papists” were once despised as much as any former slaves or Jews by the KKK.  Today they wear the dirty white sheets if they wish.

    Best,  Terry  

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