Researchers from Ancestry.com have concluded with near certainty that President Barack Obama, the son of a Kenyan black father and a Kansas white mother, also has some black ancestry from his mother's side of the family. In fact, they believe that he is the 11th great-grandson of John Punch - the first documented African slave in America.
In 1640 Mr. Punch, then an indentured servant in Maryland, ran away to Virginia with two white indentured servants. The trio was captured and put on trial, and Punch was sentenced to "servitude for life," a punishment that was harsher than his two white cohorts received. He thus became the first official slave in America.
John Punch fathered children by a white woman, and some of his descendants were soon regarded as "mulatto," while others were able to "pass" for white. Over the intervening years many became known as "Bunch" rather than Punch. One of the Bunch family lines eventually tied in with the Dunham line of the President's mother.
All of which makes our President "a nice Hawaiian Punch!" (Sorry - that was too easy!)
This genealogical discovery is important because it gives the President slave roots. He is now part of the same historical experience that spawned the vast majority of America's black population.
When Barack Obama ascended to the Presidency, some of the knuckle-dragging bigots tried to calm their jangled nerves by saying "He's not really black." (After all, he had a white mother.) They thus forgot the "science" of their knuckle-dragging forebears who claimed that anyone possessing even one drop of "colored" blood was "colored." But this guy was now the leader of the free world, so there had to be some way to minimize the once almighty factor of race.
Also, by being the son of a real African, all of that guilt stuff associated with slavery could be ignored.
Now all of that rationalizing has flown into the crapper. It looks as though President Barack Obama is more that half black - and his lineage did weave its way through the American slave experience. He is no longer just an exotic half-African, he now shares in the legacy of slavery.
I see all of that as a strength, something that enhances his connection with a large segment of America which has traditionally been ignored or repressed. The fact that a descendant of a slave can rise to the most powerful position in the world is testimony as to how far the world has come. John Punch would be proud of what his genetics have accomplished - and I am proud for him!