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Indeed, it is estimated today that at least three-quarters of “black” Americans have at least one “white” ancestor. Numerous surviving narratives from enslaved women have accounts of such sexual exploitation by white men.
Acknowledging them requires admitting what went on in the South. During slavery, and later under legal segregation, many African and African American women were sexually coerced and raped by white men, including white sailors, slavemasters, overseers, and employers.
In a travesty of justice, Celia was convicted in a Missouri court of the “crime” and hung in December 1855. racism lies in this coercive sexual reality, which weaves itself through various manifestations of systemic racism to the present.
Black women typically had no redress for such brutal crimes against them. White men often coerced and raped African American women with impunity during the country’s first three centuries.
One son of hers, Dolphus Shields, was listed on census forms as “mulatto” (a derogatory term in origin and use) became a carpenter and church-founding deacon in the city of Birmingham, Alabama.
As for his ancestry, Dolphus Shields didn’t talk about it.
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The Times continues a bit later with one of two passing references to this coercion: While President Obama’s biracial background has drawn considerable attention, his wife’s pedigree, which includes American Indian strands, highlights the complicated history of racial intermingling, sometimes born of violence or coercion, that lingers in the bloodlines of many African-Americans.