“Dear Brother, Dr.Henry L. Gates”
My name is Phil Wilkes Fixico, I am not a Scientist or even a Scholar, however, I am a Seminole Maroon Descendant and Activist. I am also known as , “Pompey Bruner Fixico”, my reason for writing this letter is to reduce the pain that I sense, is in the air, over your recent article, entitled : “Why Most Black People Are Not Part Indian”. The power of your logical words supported by DNA data, leaves many Blacks, who have, always believed, their family’s Oral History to be rock solid and true, stunned.
Pain is not a good thing, whether it is given or received. Our history makes us vulnerable to great discomfort, associated with our questions of Identity. Even with “Brother President Barack Obama in the White House”, we , somehow, have still not had our ,”EMOTIONAL COMING TO AMERICA” ! These organized revelations, coming from someone of your stature, re-opens wounds that were never healed.
I’m well versed , in the nuances of, Self-Identification, I was raised in a web of secrets and lies , from pre- infancy and I only confirmed the identity of my biological Father, at 52 years of age, about 15 years ago. Since that time I have been on a non-stop journey of , Discovery, Research and Activisim. Of all the things that I have learned on this personal expedition ,the most important finding, came to me, as a magnificent ephiphany and I’m blessed to possess it, believe it and to pass it along.
The ephiphany of which I speak is ,this: “It’s not about Race anymore, It’s about Culture”! Hitler, proved the point, that Race is a dead-end street. He expended countless lives and untold treasures in pursuit of a World built on Race. He failed miserably . Mankind, cannot advance by using Race as it’s engine, but by using Culture, we can. I define Culture as “Traditions, Customs and Habits that Govern our Behavior”. With, Culture, we can find Common Ground with people, who don’t look like, act like , talk like or think like us and who ,come to together on issues that are mutually beneficial to both groups.
As far as Black Indians are concerned, meaning those Blacks, whose Oral History, includes Ancestors who were perceived, as being with or near Indigenous Peoples or even those who , just desire an “Emotional Coming to America” by assigning and designing Ancestral Role models with an Indigenous connection, It is their American Right to be Racially Black and Culturally Black Indigenous. In the Test Tube, you are more White than anything else, but ,”To the People of America, that see you, on the streets, You’re just Another Flavor of Black”. That truth is bigger than the laboratory’s results, based on the “One Drop Rule”.
I now, come to the another reason, why I have taken time to write to you Dr. Gates, for some years, I have dreamed about my Activism becoming a catalyst, for beginning a Cultural Renaissance, just like the Harlem Renaissance, except instead of using the “New Negro”, we would use the African-Native American as the Protagonist . I feel that through sanctioned and organized efforts, utilizing not Science but the Humanities, that we could make it an All-Inclusive Celebration of America’s Great Indigenous/Immigrant blending. The Smithsonian Institution’s, book and exhibit, entitled: “indiVisible”:African-Native American Lives, is a wonderful road map as is ,”Black Indians” by the ,”The Father of Black Indian Studies in America”, Mr. Wm.L.Katz. , “Brother Dr.” everything is in place… we only need you, on board, to help it get started.
“Through Warm Tears of Gratitude” Phil “Pompey Bruner” Fixico, Seminole Maroon Descendant,