Mosaic tile - ethnicity

My Colorful Ethnicity: Walking Both Sides of the Racism Line

Racism is a hot topic these days. I had my DNA analyzed by Ancestry and what came up blew me away. Our word “ethnicity” comes from the Greek word “ethnos”. In Jesus’ Olivet Discourse, found in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21, He mentions “nation will come against nation”. The Greek word used for “nations” is “ethnos”. Thus, today’s racial tension was predicted by Jesus 2000 years ago!

Here’s my story of walking on both sides of the ethnic racism line.

I’m Puertorican. I was born in Puerto Rico to Puertorican parents of Spanish and Portuguese decent. At 2 and a half years old, in 1957, my parents decided to move to New York. My father went first to secure a job and an apartment in the Bronx, then sent for my mom and me. I remember that as the neighborhoods started getting “bad”. We kept moving until we moved all the way north, out of the city.

Me and mom on Easter Sunday circa 1960. I think we lived above the TV repair shop in the background.

Our second apartment in the Bronx, on Bruckner Blvd., was a nice middle-class co-op. We lived on the 15th floor with a northern view that included Yankee Stadium to the east. I remember every 4th of July, kneeling on the couch watching the fireworks over the city.

A girl in my class, Paula, lived on the 10th floor of my building. I liked her. We were friends. One day her mother invited me over for dinner. I asked my mom and she said, no. Then she added, that she didn’t want me hanging out with her at all. I was in first grade.

At that time, I just did what my mom said. Who was I to argue. However, years later, after I graduated college and we moved back to Puerto Rico, she told me not to date guys with “kinky hair” or as we say in PR, “pelo malo” (bad hair). Rebel that I was, I dated not 1 but 2 guys that matched that description. I remember one day, one of them asked me to go out on a Sunday afternoon. I told him that I had to go to my cousin’s kid’s baptism at my aunt’s house. He asked me if he could come. I shook my head, “I don’t think it’s a good idea,” I told him.

He asked me, “Why? Because of…” and he touched his arm pointing to his black skin.

I replied, “Yeah, sorry.”

I felt so bad. The rebel in me should have taken him to the party and let the whispering and looks happen. But no, I was a good girl and went to the party alone.

Mom

So, my mom was a racist, a bigot, and prejudice. My dad, wasn’t. He was in sales, so he had to be nice to everyone who walked in the store. I don’t think I ever heard a prejudice word from him.

Mom passed away on Christmas of 2019. I hate speaking ill of the dead, but it’s true. And all this that’s happened in America back then and is still happening, brought back memories.

The Other Side of the Line

In high school, it was a different story. We were about an hour north of New York City in a small town (at that time) called, Chester. We lived in a nice middle-class development about a mile and a half north of town. Our house was at the top of a cul-de-sac hill with a nice view.

In school, kids thought I was Italian — brown hair, brown eyes, light skin. When I said, “No, I’m Puertorican.”

They responded with, “You don’t look Puertorican.”

I then asked, “What does a Puertorican look like?” That shut them up.

On occasion, I was bullied and called “Spic”.

I just ignored them. I never however, — that I know of — was discriminated against because of my foreign-sounding name. I just know that people had a hard time spelling it.

DNA, Ethnicity and a Colorful Mosaic

In doing research for my novel, I became a history buff. I was fascinated with the Ancient Roman Empire and how they ruled all of Europe including Hispania — the Iberian Peninsula — where some of my ancestors came from.

In 2018, I took advantage of the sale that Ancestry.com had for Father’s Day and got my DNA tested. I was curious. I was sure that I had Italian blood in me. I was really surprised when I got the results back! No Italian, but a wild mixture of everything else.

Ancestry DNA Ethnicity
Updated DNA results from Ancestry.com.

I have written about my ancestry before, but this is an updated DNA profile. My mother would have freaked! Her precious, pure, Spanish heritage was not so pure after all! I did some more research. Here’s how I think it all played out. The smaller the percentage, the further back in your family tree it is.

Ancestry now breaks down your parents’ ethnicities:

Ancestry - parental ethnicies
The Jewish ancestor is on my mom’s side! Indigenous people from Puerto Rico — the Taino Indians — on both sides. North African and Mali from my dad’s side, which makes sense because of the Portuguese slave trade. However, Cameroon is on my mom’s side. Amazing!

Hispania – the Iberian Peninsula

I’ve always know that I was mainly Spanish and Portuguese since my dad’s last name, Aguiar, is Portuguese. Portugal was not its own country until 1492. At that point, they had their own language, which to me sounds like a mixture of Spanish, French and Italian.

Yes, 1492. Columbus actually went to the king of Portugal first to ask for financing for his voyage west, but was unsuccessful. As history shows, he was financed by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain. My paternal grandmother’s maiden name is Colon — which is Columbus in Spanish. I tried to trace my lineage to see if I was related to Chris, but no luck.

One of my great grandfathers was born in Galicia, Spain — a Celtic cultural stronghold. The Celts where all over Europe. They even ended up in what’s now Turkey, in Galatia, the church to whom Paul wrote his letter. That explains the 10% Irish/Scottish combination.

In doing research on the Celts, the Vikings came up, they were all over Western Europe, too. That explains the Norwegian 1%.

The Basque are an interesting mix of the French and Spanish cultures. I traced one of my paternal ancestors back to a doctor with a French name who decided to take advantage of the free land they were giving away in Puerto Rico just before the Spanish American War. He or his wife may have had Basque ancestry.

The Jewish 1% has to be from the Sephardic Jews who came from Israel when the temple was destroyed in 70 AD — or before then. Many of them were the first Christians in Hispania that Paul talked about visiting in his letter to the Romans.

Now we get to Mali, Cameroon and North Africa. In the 700s, the Moors invaded Spain and conquered all except a small area in the north and where Galicia is in the northwest corner. That explains the 1% North African. What about the 2% Mali/Cameroon?

Ah, that’s where it starts getting interesting. As the Portuguese and Spanish colonies were being populated, people were needed to work the plantations on the islands. The indigenous peoples, the Taino Indians, in this case, were hard to enslave because they kept running away and since they knew the islands, it was hard to catch them.

That’s when the African slave trade started in the Americas and the Portuguese were big in the industry. Now, it doesn’t surprise me that these mostly white guys found these dark-skinned women attractive. Hmm. I’m leaving it there.

Everyone Should get Their DNA Tested

I bet some surprises will come up. I didn’t tell my mom about the DNA results. I knew she wouldn’t believe them.

“My tribe is of Christ Jesus.”

Yes! All Christians belong to ONE FAMILY! We are all Children of God.

A few years ago, I got a call from the local blood bank where I donate regularly. They needed my blood in specific to help a baby with sickle cell anemia because I had a certain antigen. Now, that is a disease mostly affecting black people. I wonder if that 2% Mali/Cameroon and 1% North African DNA factored in. God only knows.

But that makes me think. All these people married and had kids, who married and had kids — on and on till my parents married and had me in Puerto Rico. I think about a mosaic design. It’s starts out with broken pieces of colored ceramic. Then the artist, places them in a pattern to make a beautiful work of art like the picture on top.

God is the artist.

Yet no one calls on your name
    or pleads with you for mercy.
Therefore, you have turned away from us
    and turned us over to our sins.

And yet, O Lord, you are our Father.
    We are the clay, and you are the potter.
    We all are formed by your hand.
Don’t be so angry with us, Lord.
    Please don’t remember our sins forever.
Look at us, we pray,
    and see that we are all your people.

Isaiah 64:7-9 NLT

We are all made in the IMAGE of God, but we are NOT all CHILDREN of God. You need to be born again to become a Child of God.

If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, feel His Shalom — a peace that surpasses all understanding, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, which can happen at any moment, this is what you have to do…

Believe. Repent. Be Baptized. Receive the Holy Spirit.

  • Believe — have Faith — that Jesus is the Christ and He died taking your sins away forever and that He rose from the dead 3 days later.
  • Repent of your sins — stop sinning! Do a complete 180-degree turn in your life and surrender your life to Him. When you ask Jesus to forgive you He will. ALL your sins will be wiped clean — past, present, and future! And All means ALL!
  • Be Baptized by water baptism — show the world and yourself that you have died to your old life and are born again in Christ.
  • Receive the gift of Holy Spirit in your heart.

Invite Jesus into Your Heart and Receive the Gift of Grace, Joy, Peace, and the Confident Hope of Eternal Life…

Soli Deo Gloria — To God Alone Be The Glory!

2 thoughts on “My Colorful Ethnicity: Walking Both Sides of the Racism Line”

  1. Pingback: Racism and Prejudice are Banned from the Kingdom of God – Seek the Truth

  2. Pingback: Are You a Child of God? – Seek the Truth

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