Whoopi Goldberg


Goldberg in 2011, Eugenio Marongiu / Shutterstock.com

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, author, comedian, television personality, producer, activist, and singer. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Ghost (1990). She is also known for her roles in the films The Color Purple, Fatal Beauty, The Long Walk Home, Sister Act, Sarafina!, Made in America, Boys on the Side, Ghosts of Mississippi, and For Colored Girls, and the Star Trek universe.

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. She has a daughter, actress and producer Alex Martin, with her former husband Alvin Martin.

In the past, Whoopi has often stated that she is Jewish, that her mother was Jewish, or that she has some semblance of Jewish ancestry on her mother’s side, or other variations on the premise. It appears that these statements were not correct; Goldberg is a stage name that Whoopi selected. She has no verified/documented Jewish ancestry, nor does it appear that she has converted to Judaism.

Whoopi’s patrilineal line can be traced to Alex Johnson, who was born, c. 1847, and Quilley Williams, who was born, c. 1860. They 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 Clander/Clauder Washington). Malakiah was born in Palatka, Florida. Clander was the daughter of William Washington and Elsa Tucker.

Whoopi’s maternal grandmother was named Rachel Freeman/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

Genealogy of Whoopi Goldberg – https://www.geni.com

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

Marriage record of Whoopi’s maternal grandparents, Malakiah “Malachi” Harris and Rachel Freeman/Freedman – https://www.familysearch.org


Curious about ethnicity

35 Responses

  1. midori29 says:

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

  2. Freerk says:

    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.)


  3. ectag says:

    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

  4. Freerk says:

    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 says:

      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.

  5. WTF says:

    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.

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