Friday, April 04, 2008

Stuckert on race

I watched a program the other day where the topic, "What is race," was presented to teenagers. One question they were asked was, "What is the race of Barack Obama." I wondered that when I saw photos of him next to Jeremiah Wright, who appears to be whiter than I am (I'm German and Scots-Irish ancestry). The light skinned Wright made a reputation and followers with hate speech against whites; Obama, the darker one, was raised in Hawaii by white grandparents.

If research published in the Ohio Journal of Science 50 years ago is credible, then Obama apparently isn't the first African American who might become President of the United States. We've probably already had a few, if Robert P. Stuckert's research is correct (because the research was done in the 1950s, the immigration statistics or assumptions about Europeans made in his article would no longer be correct). I tracked the piece forward and see that Time Magazine picked it up in June 1958, and then others cited this work (usually not the original journal article, which probably wasn't held in many libraries, but others who had cited it) in the 1960s and 1970s and later. After leaving Ohio State, Stuckert later became Professor of Sociology of Berea College, 1975-1992, and also wrote on blacks in Appalachia.

Here's what he said in that 1958 article to point out that the idea held in the 1950s of racial purity was a myth. It was just recently added to Knowledge Bank at OSU.
    "The data presented in this study indicate that the popular belief in the non-African background of white persons is invalid. Over 28 million white persons are descendants of persons of African origin. Furthermore, the majority of the persons with African ancestry are classified as white."
In 1950 he estimated that 21% of white people had African ancestry and 73% of American blacks had non-African ancestry.

The citation is, "African Ancestry of the White American population," by Robert P. Stuckert, Ohio Journal of Science, 58(3):155, May 1958. It was a revision of a paper given a year earlier.

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