Reading over the New Yorker article titled “Our Obsession with Ancestry Has Some Twisted Roots,” that was linked in the syllabus, it makes sense to me that we all like to have our own origin stories. There was a book that I forgot the name of that I read in 11th grade, about the author’s ancestral connection to the country of Haiti, that discusses the matter of humans all having their own personal origin stories, and while I once again don’t remember the name of that book, or who wrote it, that idea really stuck out. While it was the foundational memories within our developments as people that was discussed within that book, the knowledge of where one’s family comes from is also a central theme throughout that book, and can certainly form a part of one’s “origin story”.
It seems to me that it’s how one uses the knowledge of their ancestry, how one interprets and prides or scorns or shrugs off their family history, that proves one’s studying of their family ancestry to be productive or harmful, and to what magnitude. To first or second or even third generation Americans, connection to their lineage can be very important in preserving the cultures that they come from, and forming their unique identities in this land in which they may not share all commonalities with those who have been here several generations or more. I personally have one parent who’s side of my family has inhabited the Balkan Mountains in northwestern Bulgaria for several generations. I’m currently delving a bit into studying Bulgarian culture of various forms as well as well as, and more importantly, working on building my knowledge within the language, so that the next time, hopefully this upcoming summer, that my family visits my dad’s side of my family in Bulgaria, I may be able to share more of a connection and speak with my grandparents, aunt, uncle, cousin, and others. Many first, second, even third generation Americans, and while more difficultly, many African Americans may inspect their ancestry for self-fulfilling purposes.
On the other hand, a more reactionary studying of ancestry for the purposes of exclusivity and “purity” very often turns into attempts at ethnic cleansing as can be seen within Virginia’s own history, or even cult-like behavior as seen in a surprisingly large number of organizations that are around today which base their membership off of the ancestry of aspiring members. While applied in an array of different scenarios, “race science” is often based, in one scenario, off of other applications of the phenomenon that have occurred in different settings. The nazis, for example, based their racial purity measures off of similar examples of the application of race science in America. Wherever race science is given any credibility, the logic behind it falls apart when even inspected a slight amount, as fascist ideology simply makes no sense, and should have no place in the world but in textbooks.
Fascism, which so frequently employs race science, is after all based on no real science of any kind, but rather on what some beneficiaries of the growth of fascism see as the prime means of radicalizing a portion of society against those often at socially and/or economically disadvantaged positions already. As Georgi Dimitrov, a Bulgarian revolutionary against the fascist and nazi-allied Bulgarian government of World War II said, “fascism is not a power standing above class, nor government of the petty bourgeoisie or the lumpen-proletariat over finance capital. Fascism is the power of finance capital itself.” Fascism is the stripping of the rights that people have won throughout history so that those already at the top of our slippery economic ladder may profit further, without the hurdles of the rights of those who work for them, or the state issued benefits to those in need, in the way, and race science is often a weapon brandished by the aforementioned beneficiaries to turn one portion of society, very vehemently, against another.