I ordered a 23andMe DNA test yesterday. Yes – I’ve taken one from Sorenson’s, and later AncestryDNA, but I’d like to see how the test done by 23andMe matches up to the earlier tests. I’m also fascinated by all the non-family history research that 23andMe does with our DNA – lots of health-related stuff. One of their areas of research deals with Lupus. When I registered my test, I was given the opportunity to fill out questionnaires that were to help advance their health-related research projects. I found it fascinating, and was pleased that I could be involved in a project that would help others. Click on the illustration to learn more about 23andMe.
DNA testing can also have a sociological side to it. A fascinating article was written by Carl Zimmer and posted at the New York Times website December 24, 2014. It was titled White? Black? A Murky Distinction Grows Still Murkier. In the article he explains how 23andMe data was used to study how the ancestral makeup of self-identified African Americans, Latinos and European Americans differs by region-and why. I don’t remember reading this article when it was posted, but was prompted to do so by an email from 23andMe after I registered my test. Following is a teaser:
In 1924, the State of Virginia attempted to define what it means to be white.
The state’s Racial Integrity Act, which barred marriages between whites and people of other races, defined whites as people “whose blood is entirely white, having no known, demonstrable or ascertainable admixture of the blood of another race.”
There was just one problem. As originally written, the law would have classified many of Virginia’s most prominent families as not white, because they claimed to be descended from Pocahontas.
So the Virginia legislature revised the act, establishing what came to be known as the “Pocahontas exception.” Virginians could be up to one-sixteenth Native American and still be white in the eyes of the law.
People who were one-sixteenth black, on the other hand, were still black.
In the United States, there is a long tradition of trying to draw sharp lines between ethnic groups, but our ancestry is a fluid and complex matter. In recent years geneticists have been uncovering new evidence about our shared heritage, and last week a team of scientists published the biggest genetic profile of the United States to date, based on a study of 160,000 people.