There is a heated online debate about how Black Americans came to America. Some believe that Blacks were already in America and have more Native American ancestry than African. They also claim slave ships are a myth. Others hold true to the story of the American slave trade in which enslaved Africans were brought to America’s shores to provide free labor to build the country and grow the economy.
Are some Black Americans trying to distance themselves from Africa and rewrite history by ignoring such evidence as DNA?
Genome-wide ancestry estimates of African Americans show average proportions of 73.2% African, 24.0% European, and 0.8% Native American ancestry, according to The Genetic Ancestry of African Americans, Latinos, and European Americans across the United States study published by U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
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Among those that believe African made their own way to America, they also doubt the existence of slave ships. Hip-hop artist B.o.B,who is also a flat Earth believer.
“They say slavery lasted 400 yrs… America is only 250 yrs old… You ever seen a slave ship ? They can find a billion year old dinosaur bone but can’t find any slave ships,” B.o.B wrote in a 2017 Instagram post.
In his famous book, “They Came Before Columbus,” published in 1976, anthropologist-linguist Ivan Van Sertima, a Rutgers professor, claims that African influences can be found in a wide range of cultural similarities between Africa and the ancient Americas. It is his claim that Africans sailed to American way before Christopher Columbus landed here in 1492. Van Sertima’s research points to the Negroid features of giant stone heads in Mexico, our of which have been radiocarbon dated at 814 B.C.
Many historians have worked at debunking the “They Came Before Columbus” and “Africans Were Already In America” myth.
Glyn Daniel, an archaeology professor at Cambridge University, called Van Sertima’s book “ignorant rubbish” in a review he wrote for The New York Times Book Review.
But Van Sertima always defended his book. “Columbus is not just a man, he is a symbol. It was with the coming of Columbus that the twilight of the red and black races began. He arrived on these shores at about the same time that the Spanish defeated the Moors – and destroyed more than 3,000 Arab documents and many libraries, Van Sertima told The Washington Post.
Van Sertima added, “How many of us know the African influence on ancient Greece and Rome? There is also a vast body of knowledge to be uncovered about Africa and America. When you push one door, other doors begin to open.”
Van Sertima even argued that in several writings Columbus suggested that Africans were in the Americas before he was.
Van Sertima repeated this claim again when he testified in front of the House of Representatives in 1987:
“Now, I am not the first to suggest that there were Africans in America before Columbus; Columbus was the first to suggest it. Columbus actually said in the journal of his second voyage when he was in Haiti, then known as Espanola, Native Americans came to him and told him that Black people had come in large boats from the south and southeast trading in gold-tipped metal spears. Probably Columbus did not believe this, and that fact in itself would not be enough because the so-called Black people could be any people. It could be dark, bronze people from South America. However, Columbus actually sent back on a mail boat to Spain samples of these gold-tipped metal spears. When the metallurgists in Spain assayed these spears, they found they were identical, not similar, but were identical in their ratio of gold, silver and copper alloys as spears then being forged in African Guinea.”
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While many found Van Sertima’s scholarship flawed, his theory has many supporters.
In “Hidden Colors,” a documentary by filmmaker Tariq Nasheed, Dr. Umar Johnson, a doctor of Clinical Psychology, is interviewed and claims that Africans were going back and forth engaging in cultural and economic trade before Columbus.
But others aren’t convinced.
“One of the most baffling claims to me is the idea that the slave trade happened in reverse and that Native Americans were shipped to Africa, not the other way around. There’s not a shred of evidence to prove this. Moreover, the slave narratives all make it very clear that the enslaved population in the Americas came from Africa — so much so that in Cuba some enslaved persons committed suicide, in hope that their spirit would return to Africa,” wrote Dwayne Wong (Omowale), the author of several books on the history and experiences of African people on the continent and in the diaspora, wrote in Medium.