Political activist Angela Davis got quite the surprise during her recent sit-down with Henry Louis Gates Jr., as she learned of her ancestral tie to the Mayflower.
Angela Was Shocked By The Revelation
The matter came up during a recent installment of Finding Your Roots, as Henry linked with Angela to discuss her family lineage.
During their meet-up, Henry told Angela that a long-distant relative of hers was actually a passenger onboard the Mayflower, which brought the Pilgrims over to America way back in 1620.
Angela was visibly bewildered after learning this, as the camera caught her reaction. After initially laughing in disbelief, she says, “Oof…that’s a little too much to deal with right now.”
Henry then proceeds to ask, “Did you ever in your wildest dreams think that you may have descended from people who laid the foundation for this country?” In turn, Angela simply responds that she would have “never” thought that her ancestor was “one of the 101 people who sailed on the Mayflower.”
“Do you know what you’re looking at? That is a list of the passengers on the Mayflower.”
Our researchers discovered #AngelaDavis’s ancestors traveled to the US on the Mayflower and here is her reaction. #FindingYourRoots pic.twitter.com/G2HhA9BSrT
— Henry Louis Gates Jr (@HenryLouisGates) February 22, 2023
Twitter Reacts To Angela Davis & Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s Sit-Down
Once the clip began circulating, the quote tweets instantly blew up, as some were using the revelation as a way to denounce Angela’s work.
Angela Davis is a Woke activist and academic who has argued that America was built on slavery by racist colonizers.
**Her ancestors came to America on the mayflower** https://t.co/4lInXfOQag
— Wokal Distance (@wokal_distance) February 22, 2023
Angela Davis, Black Panther and Communist of the 70's, found her ancestors on the Mayflower. 😳 https://t.co/JOI01rAaNC
— Mark Nantz (@BullseyeBanjo) February 23, 2023
However, others swooped in and broke down how Black Americans will often have white ancestors, as sexual violence was a regular part of enslavement. In other words, they forwarded the argument that this revelation isn’t the fun fact or “gotcha” moment that many are making it out to be.
I literally cried when I saw that 26% European ancestry because I knew what that meant for my ancestors and it broke my heart. Every time I get message from a distant cousin on MyAncestry, they're asking how we're related. It boggles my mind. TF you think Susan?! https://t.co/5rk2BJeM0L
— Parenting Decolonized (@prntgdcolonized) February 22, 2023
It’s strange to see people interpreting this as a history of consent and kinship. Such a diabolical misreading of slavery where rape was one of its most pervasive structures https://t.co/RnsRWN5d77
— Patrice D. Douglass (@abolitionista) February 22, 2023
This clip really bothers me.
It bothers me because sexual violence is not even mentioned as the reason for Dr. Davis’ white ancestors.
It bothers me that no one thought, “hey this person might need care after this reveal.”
It bothers me in how gleeful HLG is in the reveal. https://t.co/A8xJrN66fX
— Dr. Saudi Garcia (@tingo_taught_me) February 23, 2023
In addition to how he delivered the news, people also took issue with Henry Louis Gates Jr. referring to the Pilgrims as the ones who “laid the foundation for this country.”
This is so weird for several reasons.
1. Every Black American has white ancestry bc rape was profitable for slave owners.
2. Is Angela being willfully obtuse for the camera?
3. “Laid the foundation of this country” to refer to her white ancestors but not Black? Really Henry? https://t.co/NkCEoh8mKc
— Joy 🐎 Priest (@Dalai_Mama_) February 22, 2023
Henry, why did you say “laid down the foundation of this country” as if the foundation isn’t a mass grave made of bone, blood, generated like by slavery, genocide & thievery?
AND DURING BLACK HISTORY MONTH?!
& also, Angela Davis is clearly & understandably uncomfortable. https://t.co/eZF9nBM9R4
— THE NECROTHUSSEÉ THAT THANG’D (@Hood_Biologist) February 23, 2023
On the flip side, though, it was also pointed out that this information shouldn’t necessarily be surprising to Angela.
how does this not cross light skin ppls minds??? https://t.co/2zSNgw89xq
— fatfat (@praxispapi) February 22, 2023
I mean the spirit of her mayflower ancestors been moving through her for some time now 🥴🙃 https://t.co/0y0CE9lez6
— pussy facing the world 🏾 (@Fiyasohollywood) February 22, 2023
However, users also shared that Angela’s reaction was more rooted in “disappointment and frustration” as opposed to surprise.
You can see the disappointment and frustration, even through the laughs.
Also, Mr. Gates, yt settlers didn’t “build this country.” The stole it https://t.co/CVWSBRtZvL
— Jesus’s Hoe Friend (@OnyxSuccubus) February 23, 2023
I’m not sure why people are framing her reaction as naïveté or as a lapse in her politics as if anyone can ever grasp the full horror and breadth of colonialism and slavery https://t.co/rrIT7H7I4n
— I could’ve just sat on in with massa (@WrittenByHanna) February 23, 2023
What do you think about the overall situation?