100% Human

The body of the earth does not belong to me; my body belongs to it. The debate about Elizabeth Warren and her “native heritage” is a painful one, and it reminds me that the ethnic composition of a person’s DNA means little. What we do with our lives matters. I am 100% human. So what? If I spend my days lusting in the halls of materialism gone mad, than my “humanity” will amount to little but a drop in the cesspool of avarice that covers this earth I love like a mosquito-infested swamp and my 100% will choke off the fertile ground and pollute the clean waters that nurture all living things.

I thought about having my DNA tested. While I know that a large percentage of my ancestors came from Europe, most of them following the French-Indian fur trade down the Mississippi River from Canada, large gaps and lots of questions remain about my heritage. So what? Finding out that I had a percentage of Native American DNA or that I had an African Great Great Greatsomeone who was brought to this land in chains would not make me a res kid or child raised in the Chicago projects. It would not give me the right to claim a place at a table built on cultural identity and suffering where I have never eaten. I already care about my Native and African brothers and sisters with all 100% of my humanity. I want to see respect and reparation generously given to those on whose land and on whose backs this country has thrived, and I will continue to work toward that. We have a long, long way to go.

I want to see the land respected and repaired. I grew up wandering the woods around my home, a child of the wind who whispered his secrets in my ears, the trees who taught me to tap deeply into the ground and patiently stand tall, and the great rivers who taught me respect and awe. I didn’t grow up with material wealth, but I had the richest of playgrounds and a lavish education. Nature never asked about my DNA. She captured my attention and inspired my imagination without questioning what percentage of me was hers. I am 100% human. The body of the earth was not born of me; I was born of it.



Words and Photography ©2018 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Entry posted in short stories.

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34 thoughts on “100% Human

  1. I had one of them DNA tests done last winter. I found out I had a bit of Viking in me mixed in with all of that Irish blood. But I had the test simply out of satisfying a curiosity and nothing more. what I am may be determined by genetics but who I am is determined by me.

    well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I got my DNA tested and while much of it was what I expected (over 60% Irish/English), I was surprised to find I was almost 20% Iberian and had a good amount of Finnish in myself too! I had always been told we were mostly German, but there was actually very little of that shown, which I thought was interesting. Even the part of me that was Germanic was more from areas like Poland, Romania, and Ukraine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is interesting! I would imagine that a lot of us have surprises hiding in our backgrounds. It lends support to the idea that we should be thinking about all our human family as brothers and sisters and treating each other with the respect and love that warrants.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. At first I founded baffling people telling me to my face they were Native Americans, when I saw in front of me a blond, blue eyes person more likely to be of North European stock.

        I guess because America it’s this big melting pot, some people are, in a way, and others are not aware of cultural identity, as defined by people who really live not just anywhere, but in a specific cultural dominated communities of a certain background. If your upbringing was not of this kind, it’s easy after a genetic blood test to say you are such, and such, ignoring the blood test it’s meaningless without the cultural background.

        No different of growing believing you belong to your family, when you were in reality adopted, and far removed genetically of the community your ancestry come.

        Besides something a lot of people ignore, genetic test are overrated, because genetically speaking you cannot go back more than 35 generations. About a 1000 year back, without everyone in the population will have exactly the same set of common ancestors (although they will be related, of course, through different routes in all the different family trees). 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you for the insights. I always hated the notion of a “melting pot”. I am not sure if it originated with him, but Henry Ford used that in the auto manufacturer’s ceremonies welcoming in new workers. New workers, especially immigrants, would walk across the stage in their “cultural” clothing, step into the melting pot, and come out wearing identical Ford factory uniforms.

        Diversity in culture is something we should respect and celebrate, not melt away. Uniform is boring, imo. ☺

        Liked by 1 person

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