DNA and our hunt for a more colorful origin story

person with body painting

Origin stories aren’t always as colorful as we could wish. Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

Every fan of superheroes knows what an origin story is. Every birthday, we celebrate our origin stories. I tell my kids about the day they were born. How I was feeling, how I knew when it was time to go to the hospital, how long I waited there. What the weather was like. How it felt to hold them for the first time. That’s their origin story.

But recently, science—possibly junk science, depending on who you listen to—has made it possible to find out a bit more about your origin story. And which one of us doesn’t hope we can add a little to our origin story by exploring this avenue?

A little color.

Like many others, I have always been told there is Cherokee blood in my ancestry. I remember visiting Cherokee, N.C., as a child. We have pictures somewhere of Native Americans (we called them Indians back then) in full tribal headdress. My mother bought me a little doll from one of the gift shops. A little girl in a fringed leather dress with a feather in her black braids. I loved that doll. I dreamed about one day being a part of that all-too-colorful heritage (if you go back to Cherokee now, you’ll find a much more down-to-earth and realistic celebration of a wonderful civilization). The Tsalagi (Cherokee, originally Aniyunwiya) of North Carolina are the remainder of the proud nation who were forced West on the Trail of Tears by white men, the ones who clung to their traditions and the little bit of land they could lawfully acquire while their families and neighbors were forced on a journey many of them didn’t make it through.

Colorful, tragic, and beautiful. I always wanted it to be true that there was Cherokee blood in my veins because surely it ran a deeper vermillion than the European blood I knew was there.

And yet, when I had my DNA ancestry tested, I came up just about as lily white as can be. 71% England, Wales (this is vaguely interesting) and Northwestern Europe, 27% Ireland and Scotland, and 2% Sweden. Not unexpected at all, but it might have been nice to find something more exotic in my DNA.

I’ve accepted this lily whiteness and the blood that my ancestors have left on my hands. I belong to the most brutal of all races. White Europeans. The ones who destroyed the peaceful civilizations they found in North America and enslaved Africans to work they land they stole.

I saw in today’s news that Elizabeth Warren is being criticized for publicizing the DNA results which showed she has some portion of Native American ancestry in her origin story. Republicans don’t believe her, Native Americans say it’s problematic that she is claiming this ancestry and, hey, why the heck has she not been advocating for Native Americans all along if she wants to believe she’s one of them?

The answer is, I believe, a fairly simple one. All us white folks want to believe we’ve got something special about us. Some of us know we belong to a brutal race and wish we could be one of those our ancestors tortured to ease our guilt. That group includes me and Senator Warren. You’ve got nothing really to fear from us because we see a nobility in your suffering and perseverance. But the others of us want to believe their race is lily white because it’s superior. They won out over all other races not through brutality but because they were chosen. Those are the ones we should all fear.

Poem: “What Good Will It Do?”

In today’s news, Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian journalist, disappeared after entering the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. It is now reported that he was killed for the stories he routinely wrote criticizing his home country’s government. When it was proposed to President Donald Trump that the United States should cease selling weapons to the Saudi Arabian government, the leader of the free world responded, “What good will that do us?”

My answer? We would no longer be accepting blood money from a repressive regime. We would no longer be upholding a bully. We would no longer be endorsing their human rights violations. 

We would no longer be guilty by association. 

What Good Will It Do?

By Michelle Garren Flye

 

What good will it do?

Sticking your neck out,

Standing up to a bully,

Being courageous.

What good does it do me?

If I refuse to befriend the “strong”

That will make me weak.

 

What good will it do?

Who says I have to help

When others are down?

Got my own life to live.

What benefit is there?

Right and wrong don’t mean

A thing when you’re on top.

 

It’ll do me no good

To give you a handout.

Sure it’s tough all over.

Get a grip on yourself.

There’s nothing in it for me.

Helping others is just a game

Invented by bleeding hearts.

 

“The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender or submission.” –President John F. Kennedy

 

 

Five stars on Amazon and an excerpt from Movie Magic

Currently Movie Magic has five stars on both Amazon and Smashwords. If you enjoy romance (and possibly even if you don’t), you’ll like Movie Magic. I’m confident about that. It has everything. I realized that when I was coming up with tags for searches on Beaches, small town, Hollywood, contemporary romance, movies, movie making, California…the list goes on. I could even have included “pirates” in it, but I didn’t. What are you waiting for? It’s only $2.99 for an ebook! Here’s an excerpt to help you make the decision to commit to reading Movie Magic:

During a lull in their work, she laid her head on the sofa arm and closed her eyes. The storm raged on outside. She opened her eyes to see Walt sitting beside the sofa, his gaze locked on the fire. He held a beer in one hand, his elbow resting on the knee of one long, denim-clad leg. She smiled a little, watching the dance of the firelight on his beard. “A sandy cowboy and a sexy pirate.” She yawned. “Hollywood really would love you.”

He glanced at her. “I thought you were asleep.”

“Mm. Maybe I will. I bet my dreams will be sweet.”

“Did you have more wine than I thought you did or are your internal censors busted?” He took a sip of the beer.

“Just sleepy and a little high off a job well done.” She reached out to touch the stack of crumpled paper on the coffee table.

He smiled, turning back to the fire. “Get some rest.”

“Where will you sleep?”

Did his smile deepen a little bit? His voice rumbled with amusement when he answered. “Everything you say right now sounds like an invitation, you know.” He took a sip of his beer. “And I’m having a really tough time not replying in the affirmative.”

For Tom

I wrote this on Facebook this morning in memory of Tom Petty and the victims of the Las Vegas massacre. I feel strongly enough about this thought to take a break from my promotion of Movie Magic to share it here, too.

God bless.

I keep thinking about Tom Petty this morning, not just because of his death but because his songs always had a ring of truth to them. My favorite was always “I Won’t Back Down”.

This morning my heart aches not just because the man who helped write the words “I know what’s right, I got just one life” is gone from our lives—out into the great wide open—but also because the interpretation of his words is so highly subjective.

How we choose to spend our one life is up to each individual, and that’s terrifying when you think of the Stephen Paddocks in the world.

You see, I have an idea of what Paddock’s motivations were. I believe he seethed at the news and hated the people who put us here. I believe he sometimes wanted to scream in frustration at the way our country’s liberties and laws were being twisted and skewed. I am fairly certain he felt like I have over the past eleven months. Unlike me, however, I believe he sort of liked feeling that way. Like the old Native American legend says, the wolf you feed is the one that’s strongest. Paddock fed the wolf of hate and he enjoyed seeing it tear the flesh he threw it.

And that’s what has happened to America this year. So many of us (on all sides, to quote our president) have fed the wolf of hate and now we’re spewing pus out over the world. Blame whoever you want—politicians, media, the system that has failed us—but it’s us that the blame lands on in the end.

Face it. We’re all free falling through this world together, and our choices make the world what it is, so be careful what the choices you make are. I’m choosing to love as best I can. I’m choosing to accept that I can’t change what’s happened and not even most of what will happen. But I can choose what I put into the world. I can choose to feed the wolf of love, even if it won’t always be easy. After all, we all know there ain’t no easy way out.

I guess, like Tom Petty says in another of my favorites, “I’ve started out for God knows where, I guess I’ll know when I get there.” If anyone wants to join me, my hand is held out to you.

RIP Tom Petty
Las Vegas

National Poetry Month: Poem 24

I had some fun with this one. 🙂

 

Poem 24

Headline Design

By Michelle Garren Flye

 

Little bits, pieces.

Unimportant on the floor.

Haircuts for the news.

 

Is that the story?

Which words are most trustworthy?

What makes the whole truth?

 

Bits and pieces lie.

Truth lies in between the cracks.

Don’t believe one source.