While it seems like the racial divides in America only get deeper and more strained every week, one phenomenon might be helping shift some perspectives on black and white. Ancestry sites like 23andMe have been helping people trace their lineage and find out where their families are from. This has resulted in several people of color finding out that they have white people in their family tree and white people finding out that some of their roots trace back to black families. Of course, this takes on a hilarious twist when it comes to a comedian like Marlon Wayans finding out he’s got a white cousin live on the radio. Let’s take a look at some black celebrities with Irish ancestors.
Marlon Wayans Reveals He’s 27% Irish
Marlon Wayans got a shock when radio personality Big Boy surprised him, bringing a man named Sean Valentine into their interview. According to Sean, he and Marlon are cousins. Sean Valentine is a fellow radio host from the program Valentine in The Morning. According to Sean, he had taken a linage test with 23andMe and found out that his family branched off into a black family that resulted in Marlon Wayans and his siblings.
Marlon was initially in disbelief and continued to push away from Valentine before asking if he was Irish. When Sean confirmed that he was Irish, Marlon began to believe him, revealing that when he took his 23andMe test, it revealed that he was 27% Irish. After accepting that Valentine was his 4th cousin, Wayans reveals that their family connection was actually pretty dark. Marlon Wayans great grandmother was actually taken advantage of by Sean Valentine’s great grandfather. “How you feel about that? How you feel about that, cousin? Cousin on the [expletive] side.”
The awkward exchange ended with the men laughing things off and exchanging contact info, with Big Boy admitting that the interaction “didn’t work out well.” Fans in the comments pointed out how appalled Marlon looked while interacting with Valentine as the actor admitted being shocked by the whole interaction.
Mariah Carey‘s Grandfather was from Ireland
Mariah Carey has always been open about being biracial. The megastar was born to Patricia Healy, whose father was from Ireland. Mariah reveals in her memoir “The Meaning of Mariah Carey” that being “pure Irish” was central to her family’s identity. However, her mother rebelled against this and got with Mimi’s father, Alfred Roy Carey, who was black and Venezuelan. Mariah recalls her mother already being treated poorly, being called “the dark one” by their family because she did not have blue eyes or blond hair. Mariah has frequently explored her mixed-race in her music, with songs like “Outside” and the theme song from “Mixed-ish.”
Alicia Keys’ maternal grandfather was of Italian descent
Multi-grammy winner Alicia Keys‘ mixed background has been central to her narrative. Born to an Italian mother and African-American father. Alicia struggled with her race growing up in Hell’s Kitchen, stating over the years that she never felt black or white enough. Her father decided not to be a part of her life early on, so her mother raised her alone. Alicia Keys’ maternal grandfather was of Italian descent, while her maternal grandmother was of English, Irish, and Scottish ancestry. Several of her family lines have been traced back to Connecticut in the 1600s.
Barack Obama descends from Irish Wigmakers
Former President Barack Obama‘s race and nationality were huge points of discussion during his presidential run. Born in Hawaii on August 4th, 1961, Obama descends from Irish Wigmakers who relocated to the U.S in 1850 and settled on a farm in Ohio. That family continued to grow and resettle and eventually led to Barak’s branch of the family tree. His mother, Ann Dunham, was born in Kansas, and his father, Barak Obama Sr., was from Kenya.
Muhammad Ali descended from an Irish man named Abe Grady
Legendary Boxer and Civil Rights figurehead Muhammad Ali also has Irish lineage. Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr, it was revealed later in his life that Ali descended from an Irish man named Abe Grady. Grady was from Ennis, County Clare. In the 1860s, Grady left Ennis and moved to America, where he settled in Kentucky. There, he married a free African American woman and started a family. Their descendant Odessa Lee Grady met and married Cassius Clay Sr. in the 1940s, and they had Cassius Jr. Clay famously change his name to Muhammad Ali when he became Muslim in the 1960s.