Whoopi Goldberg

by ethnic on July 17, 2010


Birth Name: Caryn Elaine Johnson

Place of Birth: Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.

Date of Birth: November 13, 1955

Ethnicity: African-American (including Guinea-Bissauan, Sierra Leonean, and Liberian)

Whoopi Goldberg is an American actress, comedian, television personality, writer, producer, activist, and singer. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Ghost (1990).

She was born Caryn Elaine Johnson in Manhattan, New York City, New York, to African-American parents, Emma (Harris), a nurse and teacher, and Robert James Johnson, Jr., a clergyman. Her daughter is actress and producer Alex Martin.

In the past, Whoopi has often stated that her mother was Jewish (Ashkenazi Jewish?), or that she has some kind of Jewish ancestry on her mother’s side, or other variations on this premise. It appears that these statements were not correct; Goldberg is a stage surname that Whoopi selected. She does not seem to have Jewish ancestry.

Whoopi’s paternal line traces back to Alex Johnson (born c. 1847) and Quilley Williams (born c. 1860), who were born into slavery, in Faceville, Georgia.

Whoopi’s paternal grandfather was Robert Johnson (the son of John Paul Johnson and Estella/Estelle Sherman). Robert was born in Georgia. John was the son of Alex Johnson and Quilley Williams.

Whoopi’s paternal grandmother was Hattie Wilson (the daughter of Ellis Wilson and Louisa Felts). Hattie was born in Georgia. Louisa was the daughter of Dallas Felts.

Whoopi’s maternal grandfather was Malakiah “Malachi” Harris (the son of James D. Harris and Clauder/Clander Washington). Malakiah was born in Palatka, Florida. Clauder was the daughter of William Washington and Elsa Tucker.

Whoopi’s maternal grandmother was Rachel Freedman (the daughter of Emmaline Morris).

A DNA test whose results were displayed on the show African American Lives (2006) stated that Whoopi’s genetic ancestry is:

*92% Sub-Saharan African
*8% European

In his 2009 book about the show, In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. wrote that Whoopi’s African DNA matches the Balanta/Bayote people of Guinea-Bissau, the Mende people of Sierra Leone, and the Kru people of Liberia.

Sources: A summary of Whoopi’s family history in In Search of Our Roots: How 19 Extraordinary African Americans Reclaimed Their Past (2009) – http://books.google.ca

Genealogies of Whoopi Goldberg – http://www.wikitree.com

Whoopi’s father on the 1930 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org

Eugenio Marongiu / Shutterstock.com

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

GLXY March 23, 2016 at 4:56 am

CORRECTION More details about her african ancestry: Balanta/Bayote people from Guinea-Bissau, Mende people from Sierra Leone and Kru people from Liberia

Connerfromvine January 2, 2016 at 5:51 pm

She has suggested that racial profiling doesn’t exist and I’m pretty sure she sat by and laughed when her ex husband put on black face. So maybe she is “more white than black” according to a “DNA test” that she took.

btw she is one of the ugliest people on tv.

WTF January 23, 2015 at 7:41 pm

Her face creeps me out, she’s ugly as hell.

midori29 December 29, 2014 at 11:25 am

@Ectag this link says Whoopi Goldberg is 8 % European.

midori29 December 29, 2014 at 11:25 am
Freerk November 16, 2014 at 9:06 pm

My post was no reaction on yours. I’ve been thinking for long to make a remark about my feelings that Afro-Americans can’t trace their ancestry back to the country or tribe they came from. “Afro-American” doesn’t say much. My DNA remark was just a dream. ;-)

The background of my remark is that two years ago a woman from Ohio with the same surname than mine contacted my cousin to found out about her ancestry in Germany. Now she knows even the village where her ancestors once came from. An Afro-American will probably never have the chance to do this. The ethnic informations about Afro-Americans show an aspect of what Europeans/Euro-Americans once did to Africans: wipe out their ethnic identity. That really makes me sad.

Btw: In 2011 geneticists at the University of London found a gene that is specific for people in North Germany and Denmark – and appears in about 50 % of the English population. (Of course a DNA test doesn’t show the nationality, as states/nations are political constructs.)


ectag November 16, 2014 at 9:43 am

According to her several pop DNA test she took, her ethnic make up is as follows:

-25% Italian
-25% Jewish
-35% Swedish
-5% Norwegian
-6.35% Cherokee
-3.65 % Subsaharan African

Capricious April 4, 2015 at 12:50 am

So she is more European than African? Really?

For me, she’s a very African looking woman. A pure African.

neiltennant November 4, 2017 at 10:16 am


a woman with 3,65 percent african roots would look more like me

Freerk November 16, 2014 at 8:00 am

It’s always frustrating to see that Europe-rooted ancestry is followed back to each milk can on any histroical map, while with Africa-rooted people, there’s just written: African-American. I’m always glad when it gets more precise. There should be a free DNA test for all African-Americans to find at least there ethnic roots.

ectag November 16, 2014 at 9:56 am

My remark about Whoopi Goldberg’s ancestry above are a joke btw. You don’t need a DNA test to see that Whoopi Goldberg is virtually 100% black African and any other trace amounts of something else are not contributing to her appearance. She would look the same if she were 100% black.

Those mass marketed DNA tests are a joke. Certainly any test that purports to break it down by country of origin is junk. The current state of the art (and this stuff is a lot more art than science than most people realize) is not fine tuned enough to infer which small country in Europe someone’s ancestors came from.

The wider the geographic area considered the more reliable they are. You can distinguish between black African DNA and European DNA and East Asian DNA very easily.

You can distinguish between Northern and Southern DNA pretty reliably also, as you can between North Africa and Subsaharan Africa and East Africa etc.

They can’t distinguish Spaniards from Portuguese or Greeks from Italians or Scots from Englishmen and Germans. Any test providing an DNA ancestry breakdown that fine grained (i.e. listing specific countries) is worthless and about as scientific as a horoscope chart.

midori29 December 29, 2014 at 11:20 am

Ectag , Whoopie is not 100 % African. She took a DNA test , she is like 10 percent white European.

WTF August 25, 2014 at 1:31 am

She’s mixed! Y’all are blind as fuck! She’s mixed with Chinese, Middle Eastern, Native American, White, and Jamaican. LMFAO just JOKING!! Whoever takes me serious is a dumbass bitch!!! This hoe looks black as hell. Like midnight.

Kerrywhite September 22, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Agreed, LMAO. These white people think you have to AKon’s skin tone to be a black person.

Aleksandr November 11, 2013 at 6:49 pm

CORRECTION. Whoopi Goldberg is of Bissau-Guinean heritage.

follers October 16, 2013 at 1:35 am

The View is my favorite television show ever. There is no television show more entertaining than it.

theropod June 24, 2013 at 3:15 am

Isn’t she Ghanaian?

memphis October 11, 2014 at 1:43 pm

I think she is American. From that PBS program about ancestry is 92% West African including Guinea Basseau the rest probably Europe.

memphis January 23, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Guinea Basseau is probably one of many African ancestors, I bet she has some Fulani (ethnic group) heritage. She could still have a small bit of Ashkenazi Jewish blood. 8% is what a great great grandmother.

Affellay April 30, 2013 at 11:07 am

Her grandmother is from Odessa (was born there) n is of Jewish ancestry. it is said here http://englishrussia.com/2011/12/31/russian-roots-in-hollywood/ just scroll down 2 da bottom

nnnnn April 30, 2013 at 9:18 pm

If I see “englishrussia” or other postcommunist bullsh…., I know:lie,lie and more lie. I klicked and saw Portman as “Russian”, it was enough to me.

nnnnn April 30, 2013 at 9:37 pm

All together. Celebrities should ruin them with privat

nnnnn April 30, 2013 at 9:40 pm

Again: you have a very strange logic, Follers. If I
wrote “postcommunist bulsh…, does it mean, that
communist bulsh… tastes better?

nnnnn April 30, 2013 at 9:48 pm

I think, it’s more dangerous. No one idiot believed
at communist propaganda, besides of that they
were pretty isolated. They became cunning and
learnt to use a nice pacaging for their sh…
So naiv people (not only americans) believe them

nnnnn April 30, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Dear Affelay, didn’t you see the gay trio marx-engels-lenin
and “satanistic” penthogramm with hammer and sickle?
It means “Warning: lie and slander”

Freerk November 16, 2014 at 8:07 am

Not that I want to excuse any of them, but you should have read them before you write something about them. Marx & Engels would never have agreed to what Lenin did (or wrote). And Lenin has little to do with what Stalin did. There’s an organisational-historical, but not necessarily a strong ideological line between them. According to “lying” and the soviet system, though, I agree with you.

loislane March 28, 2013 at 11:11 am

Wanna c nude pics? 5626442856

loislane March 28, 2013 at 11:08 am

Needs a whole body makeover

sadie March 24, 2012 at 3:24 am

She is one homely woman, but a great actress.

christian March 24, 2012 at 2:44 am

awesome intelligent woman

she had a lot of movie hits in europe

she was intelligent enough to say something against bush in 2003 however she lost her contract with slim fast

so you americans have the freedom to say what you want ??

loislane March 28, 2013 at 11:10 am

Yes we do

nnnnn April 29, 2013 at 11:55 pm

Ha-ha, still more freedom as in Germany

Jak February 17, 2012 at 8:03 pm

“NO RACIST OR ABUSIVE COMMENTS OR YOU WILL BE BLOCKED” – No I support the massmurderer that invented that overused word “racist”

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