Finding Your (Hispanic) Roots – Video

Watch Adrian Grenier, Michelle Rodriguez, and Linda Chavez on PBS. See more from Finding Your Roots.

adrian grenier finding your roots, pbs

Adrian Grenier has Spanish Colonial, European and Native American roots.

The Story of America

I have become a bit of a broken record.

Nearly everyone I speak to lately gets an earful about how much I love the show Finding Your Roots on PBS and hosted by professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

“It’s the story of America!” I say. “The things no one taught us in history class!”

Seriously. I remember, from history class that there were Spaniards and French and Colonists and white guys and slaves and Indians and there were wars and fights and death and wretched mayhem…and everyone generally stayed on their own side, unless they were warring or enslaving.


The stories of well-known Americans featured in the series reflect many our own histories – histories that include roots going back to a time even before the United States was the United States. It is amazing. And we are so much a mix.. Freed slaves, slave masters, European immigrants, Indians, Spaniards, Jews  — all mixing, all having families, both by choice and violence. Yet, despite the reality of mixing, our ancestors created boundaries and rules, ones we still are trying to shake off centuries later.

Plus, how awesome to learn specifics about why our immigrant ancestors risked it all and willingly arrived in a foreign and distant place. You know what? It’s for the same reasons the immigrant family who arrived yesterday came. The quest for better. Nada mas.

I have loved seeing the DNA results of African-American participants, some of whom have a huge percentage of European DNA. A statistic quoted was that 1 in 3 African Americans has European ancestry and some episodes I watched traced roots right back to particular plantations and slave owners. It also is joyful to see young African Americans learning exactly which African countries and tribes their own maternal DNA links them to, information lost to them and their families until those lab tests came in. Roots are a good thing.

Spanish Roots in the U.S.

The last episode of the season featured Americans with Hispanic/Latino roots: actors Adrian Grenier and Michelle Rodriguez and conservative political commentator Linda Chavez, each who have Spanish colonial roots in the Americas.

The episode, shown in video above, is mind-blowing and awesome: Violent Spaniards, inter-marrying cousins, illegitimate kids, secret Jews. You name it.

While I know a lot about my Hispanic roots, thanks to relatives who have done research, I so loved learning more about these Hispanic families whose ancestors were here on this soil a long time before the Colonists arrived. It’s a great answer to “Go back to where you came from” or “How long has your family been here?”

And, Linda Chavez’s story revealed Sephardic Jewish ancestors who fled persecution during the Spanish Inquisition.  It made me want to go get a DNA test, for that’s a suspicion in  my own family. Also, Chavez and Rodriguez’s stories revealed a heebie geebie fact about the Spanish habit of cousins marrying cousins over and over again so that the line would remain white and in charge.

If you haven’t seen the series, and you love history, or want to know more about America’s immigrant roots, watch it.

If you’ve watched it, do you love it?

Share, por favor!

By Carrie on May 27, 2012 · Posted in the habla habla

20 Comments | Post Comment

Melanie Edwards - & Ella Media says:

I so need to watch this! I love genealogy and searching your family’s history.

Posted on May 28th, 2012

OC Latino ‘Links’: World Cup, Daddy Yankee and more - OC Latino Link : The Orange County Register says:

[...] Tiki Tiki Blog has the last episode of PBS’ ‘Finding Your Roots’ which featured Michelle Rodriguez, Adrian Grenier and Linda [...]

Posted on May 29th, 2012

Marcela says:

I have to watch! Never heard of it till now….excited to see.

Posted on May 29th, 2012

Ruby says:

Totally need to watch! Genealogy is so important to me because my kids are Bi-cultural I need them to know as much as possible of who they are and where they come from!

Posted on May 29th, 2012

Pamela P. says:

This is an amazing series that fascinated me from the first episode. Haven’t seen this one yet but it’s now on my watch-list. Thanks for posting!

Posted on May 29th, 2012

Maria Amelia says:

I have watched it, and being half Spanish it makes me feel sad sometimes to see what happened in the past. But the truth is the truth, and it is only understanding and knowing the past that you don’t repeat the mistakes of your ancestors. Besides, there is nothing I have enjoyed more in my life than getting to know my family, my ancestors for generations and generations. And my own family names hold the secrets to our heritage… It´s exciting.

Posted on May 29th, 2012

Jennifer says:

I love Professor Gates’ series! My co-worker and I have a dream that when we hit the lottery, we’ll buy ourselves an RV or bus and start our own genealogy TV series traveling across the country helping average people unlock their families’ stories. I can already see our show on TLC or The Travel Channel or A&E. :)

Posted on May 29th, 2012

Comiendo en LA says:

Omg! He is so handsome!! I’ve never watched the show! I definitely Will!!

Posted on May 29th, 2012

Pattie @Living Mi Vida Loca says:

I hadn’t heard about the series until now! I love learning about these things. The hidden story. PBS always has great stories and shows. Can’t wait to catch it. Maybe they’re on Hulu or Netflix. Nevermind, I think they’re on the PBS app. Thanks!

Posted on May 29th, 2012

Mercedes @BeChicMag says:

You seriously have the best posts, Carrie! I wish more people knew about this series. I didn’t know until now.

Posted on May 31st, 2012

Cristina-Una colombiana en California says:

This show looks very interesting. I’ll watch next season for sure!

Posted on June 1st, 2012

Viane says:

I haven’t seen the show but I’ve been on a geneology kick for years. I’m gonna look the show up!

Posted on June 1st, 2012

Carrie says:

You, my Puerto Rican friend, so need to see the Michelle Rodriguez segment!!

Posted on June 4th, 2012

Carrie says:

It is online and in the PBS iPad app…Love it!

Posted on June 4th, 2012

Carrie says:

Ruby, it definitely is a lesson in the history of America, and how we have been loving and mixing for centuries.

Posted on June 4th, 2012

Carrie says:

The Spanish stuff does sting, for sure.
Some of my own history makes me laugh, cringe, and say Ay, Dios Mio!!!

Posted on June 4th, 2012

Carrie says:

Jennifer, let me know when that series is ready! and come to Tennessee…many tangled webs!

Posted on June 4th, 2012

Carrie says:

Thank you for the suggestion. Will look it up, for sure.

Posted on June 4th, 2012

Viviana Hurtado/The Wise Latina Club says:

I have heard about this series but intentionally stayed away for fear of getting hooked. I love how thoughtful and carefully executed this clip/series is, as is your wisdom, especially on our personal and national need for lore and why immigrants have been coming for generations.

Posted on June 10th, 2012

Bren @ Flanboyant Eats™ says:

I wish that Lisa Kudrow show would feature more Latino’s wanting to learn their history… I’m talking mas y mas with my parents about where we come from. We’re so mixed up with non-Latin roots that I’d like to really explore. I had no idea that cutie patootie had some Latino in him. No wonder he’s so fine. Watching and sharing.

Posted on June 11th, 2012