The Red and the Black: Remembering the Legacy of Jack D. Forbes
Arica L. Coleman, Ph.D.
The language of race was not the only contributor to the subjugated histories of African–Native American relations. European hegemony, what Forbes dubbed the “white hub”, the tendency to construct a master narrative which centralized Europeans as the major historical players of the story of the Americas at the expense of other narratives ignored, for example, the commingling and intermarriage of African and Native American peoples. As Forbes poignantly contended in his article “The Manipulation of Race, Caste, and Identity,” “There is no denying but what the image of the ‘Great White Fornicator’ is a popular one, exalted (as it were) by a vast folklore and accepted as valid almost without seeking proof.” Certainly, there was commingling and intermixing between peoples of African and European descent. That is a historical and contemporary fact that cannot be denied, although some would like to do so. Yet, as his large body of work attest, the story does not end there.
As Forbes stated, “…seeing white people as the hub or focus has led to the serious neglect of extremely significant social phenomena including the intersection of [Native] Americans and Africans directly with each other.”