|Great great grandparents
|Great great great grandparents
Source: Understanding Genetics – Standford at the Tech Museum
In the case of using ancestry DNA to trace your roots, less is more. You’ve probably seen the ancestry show on tel-e-vision where a majority of the black celebrities’ roots are traced back to African tribes. This would make sense if you’re looking at the larger composition percentage to determine ancestry, but the larger number represents your most recent ancestors. You inherit 50% of your DNA from your parents and the percentages get lower the further you go down in generations, as illustrated in the table above. So, your most ancient ancestor (where you originated) would be signified by the lowest composition percentage.
Dr. Yaffa Bey gave the following analogy that’s a great example. If you take a cup of coffee, it will look and taste different when you add cream and sugar to it. Think of the coffee as your most ancient ancestor, the cream as what got into your blood line next and the sugar as what got into your blood line last. After all of the additives, there would be very little trace of the original coffee left, but it is still a cup of coffee. If you go back and watch some of the ancestry shows, you’ll see that a lot of the black celebrities had high African composition percentages and extremely low Native American composition percentages. That’s because their most ancient ancestors were from right here in America and the African DNA entered the bloodline the most recent.
Statistics listed in an article titled “Exactly How Black is America?” by Henry Lewis Gates, Jr. for the Root.com, reveal the average African-American has 0.6%-2% Native American ancestry. This tells us that the average African-American’s most ancient ancestors were Native American.
- According to Ancestry.com, the average African-American is 65 % sub-Saharan African, 29 % European and 2 % Native American.
- According to 23andme.com, the average African-American is 75 % sub-Saharan African, 22 % European and only 0.6 % Native American.
- According to Family Tree DNA.com, the average African-American is 72.95 % sub-Saharan African, 22.83 % European and 1.7 % Native American.
- According to National Geographic’s Genographic Project, the average African-American is 80 % sub-Saharan African, 19 % European and 1 % Native American.
- According to AfricanDNA, the average African-American is 79 % sub-Saharan African, 19 % European and 2 % Native American.
A lot of our families have stories that great-grandma was Indian or great-grandma said her mother was Indian and we pass them off as just fleeting tales, without seeing their significance. Our people don’t know who we are because we allow others to dictate to us who we are. One day we’re Black, the next Colored, then Negro and don’t forget about African-American. The truth of the matter is, you are who your mother is.
For instance, maternal (mother) is to material as paternal (father) is to pattern. Every seamstress knows that you must first have “material” before it can ever be put with a “pattern” to make a dress. Also, you’ve all heard the saying, “Mother’s baby, Father’s maybe.” Taken literally, this phrase means if a baby comes out of a woman’s womb, it’s a fact that is her child. On the other hand, a man can say he fathered a child, or the woman can tell the man he fathered a child, but it’s anybody’s guess (outside of the DNA technology we have today).
What does this all mean? The copper-colored women, the Europeans found in America, eventually had children with foreign men (whether by choice or force) erasing the pure blood line (the coffee). Whether the foreign men were from Africa, Europe, Spain or Asian (the additives), the pure blood line will show up in your DNA less and less the further away you get from it throughout the generations. Which is why it’s important for us to document who we are now, either through the paper trail or through genealogical DNA testing, because if the results are coming back 2% and lower now, our children or children’s children may not show any traces of Native American in their bloodline at all.
Understanding Genetics – Standford at the Tech Museum
Exactly How ‘Black” is Black America – TheRoot.com
For those of you who had your DNA tested and were disappointed with the low percentage you received for Native American, look again from the lens of this clarity about Ancestry DNA results. If your grandmother or great-grandmother said she was Indian, then believe her and stop letting other people tell you what or who you are! You are what your mother is and she is what her mother was and don’t ever forget it!
Smokey Robinson’s sentiments, in this Def Poetry Jam piece, mirror what I’ve been blogging about in my posts. He hits the major points head on! However, I’d like to bring some clarity to the “Black” reference. Self-identifying as “Black” does not connect you with a nationality because it is a color (more like a concept) and your nationality is what determines your legal status. This becomes important if you ever have to fight for your human rights at the international level, which is what our people should be doing.
Black doesn’t even mean what we think it means. The original definitions for the word “black,” which can be found in the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster, include: pale; to become pale; to turn white; to bleach; to lighten. This sounds more like a description of the Europeans who found us here. At one point, Smokey referred to himself as an “American-American.” This is how I choose to identify myself.
Here is where I would include a link to the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster so you can see the definition for the word “black,” but the on-line version conveniently excludes the entries I mentioned. You may be able to get your hands on the hard copy version at your local library, if your interested in seeing it for yourself. Otherwise, you can view the images from my copy below.
Find out who you are by researching those who came before you. Then, and only then, can you truly be proud of who you are like Smokey Robinson expressed in his spoken words.
Image: “America Map” – http://www.hostelineurope.com/Maps/america-map.jpg
My previous post, “Africa is NOT a Country“, brought to light how identifying with the title African-American diminishes a person’s value due to the generalization of being connected to a continent and not a country. Well guess what? If we want to get technical, America is not a country either.
The Americas are a pair of continents (North America and South America). If you’re inclined to argue our country is the United States of America, why then isn’t our nationality United Statians like Canadians, Brazilians, Mexicans and Colombians? Why don’t we have our own language and our own culture? Why should we even care?”
Here’s why you should care.
- Your nationality connects you to a country and determines your international political status.
- Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares, “everyone has the right to a nationality and no one should be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.
- Human rights, not to be confused with civil rights, are protected under international law.
America Map – conservapedia.com
What is Nationality – thelawdictionary.org
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights – un.org
Why You Should Care About Human Rights – civilrights.org
Be careful about what you call yourself because it may have an impact on your international political status. African-American refers to two continents, Black is a color and believe it or not, the legal definition of a Minority is the state or condition of a minor (as in a child). Fighting for civil rights isn’t getting us anywhere, so we need to start fighting for human rights and we do not need our ambiguous legal status compromising our efforts. Knowledge of our ancestry will help us determine what our legal status should be. That is why researching your ancestry is so important.
The One-Drop Rule was established during the late 1800s and early 1900s, when racial classification laws were being passed. Under this rule, anyone with one drop of African blood was classified as Black.
During that period, it was not uncommon for native Americans to form bonds with Africans, called Negroes. According to the One-Drop Rule, the child of a Native American and a Negro would be classified as Black. As harmless as this “label” may have seemed, it excluded many natives from tribal affiliation, thereby stripping them of their heritage and rights.
Blacklisted Native Americans – blackindiansunited5tribesembassy.org
For those of you who have started researching your ancestry using census and vital statistics records, you may keep running into the classification of “Black” or “Negro.” This doesn’t rule out native American ancestry. It just means at least one of the parents were African. The other parent could have been from here, so keep digging. This is where retrieving oral stories from elder relatives becomes important. When I interviewed my relatives, I was surprised to find out how many of the grandmothers were so-called Indian.