A while back we were talking about race as a social construct vs. race as a genetic reality. This article profiles people in a town called East Jackson, OH who have always identified as black even thought they are “phenotypically” quite white. I think it underlines the fact that our racial categories are a product of personal histories and social standing, not some objective truth based on genetic realities.
Most of Shreck’s generation and the generations before her here in East Jackson, on the edge of Appalachian Ohio, were raised to believe they are black. Never mind that they might register to most as white by appearance, or that there is hardly a trace of black ancestry left in their blood. This inherited identity most East Jackson residents still cling to and fiercely protect is based on where they were born and who they were told they are. It comes from a history rooted in racism and an identity placed upon their ancestors – and now many of them – without their consent.