Way back in grade school, I was given one of those assignments where we had to share our cultural history and ancestry. All I could say is that I am African American and my ancestors came to America as slaves. Beyond that, I had little knowledge of my ancestral background. I tried to paint a picture of my past, but it was incomplete and fuzzy.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had their ancestry described to them through a patchwork tale of questions and stories that can’t be verified. I knew that my ancestors were from Africa, but I had no idea what part. I’d also had family members say we had Native American ancestors, people guess that I’m Ethiopian, and a few people ask me if I’m Asian (I guess because of my first name!)
Why I Decided to Test my DNA
When I saw the Ancestry.com DNA kits, I decided to try one. With this knowledge, I can finally describe my ethnicity with a clearer sense of reality and with the scientifically-supported details to back it up rather than just relying on word-of-mouth.
It’s often difficult for African Americans to trace our ancestry because so much of our history was not well-documented. As a people, we were not even legally allowed to be literate for much of our past. We didn’t even have the right to read and write, so we couldn’t keep the kind of documents many people rely on to trace their ancestors. On top of that, many of our customs and traditions were lost when families were torn apart.
Nowadays, we have to become detectives and put a lot of intentional effort into seeking the details about our pasts. Thankfully, there is now technology available to give us a clearer picture!
I’ve been on a journey of self-discovery, and I feel like learning more about my ancestry is a piece of that journey. Knowledge of our pasts can be used to shape our futures. I want to know more about where I came from so that I can honor my ancestors and do more to learn their stories. I also want to be able to share with my children more information about the people who came before them so that, when it’s their turn to share, they’ll have the details and stories of their family history.
Honoring the past became especially important to me after watching the Disney movie Coco. The film featured rich traditions and the importance of keeping ancestral memories from the Hispanic culture alive. My kids loved this movie and started asking questions about how to honor their own ancestors.
How to Test DNA with Ancestry.com
The actual process to do the test was incredibly simple. All you have to do is follow these easy steps.
- Order your kit by visiting Ancestry.com.
- When your kit arrives in the mail, follow the directions they give to spit in the tube.
- Send the kit back in the mail.
- Wait 6-8 weeks for them to send your results back through your email.
My Ancestry Results (Watch video above for full details!)
I had to wait 7 long weeks, but it was well worth it because when I finally received my results, I was stunned! My test dispelled a few myths and sparked more curiosity with a few surprises.
It turns out I have a rich diversity of connections that weave through west, central, and south Africa. I had NO CLUE that the largest chunk of my DNA stems from Nigeria (21%).
I was shocked to find out that I also had ancestral connections to Great Britain (15%) as well as sprinkles of other parts of Europe and the Middle East. I’m not currently familiar with any family from these regions, so it’s very interesting to consider how these ties were made. I’d love the opportunity to link with some distant family members through the family tree and other matching tools offered on the site.
It turns out the Native American ancestors were only a myth. For some reason, a LOT of African Americans are under the impression that they are somehow mixed with Native Americans. In my case, and I’m sure in many others, this proved to be false. I’m glad that I found that out so I don’t pass misinformation down to my children.
Finally, the test also revealed a little about the migration patterns of my ancestors. Through an animated map, the site showed that my relatives first landed in Virginia and then dispersed into areas of the South before making their way into the northeast and then finally traveling westward. It makes sense!
Aftermath of Learning My Results
I now have a deeper sense of pride in more specific parts of Africa. I feel closer to these regions now that I have a clearer vision of my roots. I can’t wait to do more research and continue to make connections on the site. They’ll continue to send me notifications as their database and research expands.
I also cannot wait to visit Africa, walk on the soil where my ancestors lived, and see the beauty of the motherland.
I’m so happy I did this test not just for myself but for my kids and the generations to come. I encourage everyone reading this to take the test. The only thing I regret is not doing it sooner!
If you’ve done a DNA test, share your experiences! Were you taken by surprise? Were you able to connect to family stories that now make sense? I want to hear about it.
Happy hunting! Always find ways to grow and draw nearer to your personal identity and purpose.
Be blessed. Be balanced. You deserve it!