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When we try to understand how things got to be the way they are, we rely on our historians. Sadly, they come at their chosen topics with bias, distorting our understanding of the past. A delicious example is the way solid historians came out to “defend” Thomas Jefferson as historians nosed around his private life. From what I read, they did not bother to base their reactions and criticisms on fact but on the putative moral character of The Great Man. Of special interest in an age marked by upheaval in so-called “racial relations”, was Jefferson’s relationship with one Sally Hemmings. At the height of this, a DNA study came out that offered a level of evidence so high that historians now accept that Jefferson fathered children by Hemmings.
Some will dismiss the importance of this, saying that it is of interest only to those interested in Jefferson; but in reality it goes to the heart of the American identity which completely marginalized the huge African-American presence in this country. As one scholar put it many years ago, we were looking in the wrong place for survivals of African culture in the U.S.; we were looking among the Black population when we should have been looking at the general U.S. culture which absorbed African cultural traits long ago. He could have added physical traits.

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