DNA Testing Has Folks Realizing That Their Race is More Complex Than They Knew

Nicole Persley, center, who grew up in a white farming town in Virginia, didn’t realize she is part black until she researched her roots. Family photo

Think you’re white? Think again. Your ancestry may be more complex than you ever knew. Following is an excerpt from an interesting article posted today by the Washington Post, and picked up by the Brainard Dispatch.

As more Americans take advantage of genetic testing to pinpoint the makeup of their DNA, the technology is coming head-to-head with the country’s deep-rooted obsession with race and racial myths. This is perhaps no more true than for the growing number of self-identified European-Americans who learn they are actually part African.

For those who are surprised by their genetic heritage, the new information can often set into motion a complicated recalibration of how they view their identity.

Nicole Persley, who grew up in Nokesville, Virginia, was stunned to learn that she is part African. Her youth could not have been whiter. In the 1970s and ’80s in her rural home town, she went to school with farmers’ kids who listened to country music and sometimes made racist jokes. She was, as she recalls, “basically raised a Southern white girl.”

…when the mixing happened several generations back, it can take people by surprise. While little data exists comparing people’s perceptions with the reality of their ethnic makeup, a 2014 study of 23andMe customers found that around 5,200, or roughly 3.5 percent, of 148,789 self-identified European-Americans had 1 percent or more African ancestry, meaning they had a probable black ancestor going back about six generations or less.

Read the full article.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.