Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Shay at Booker Rising took the mitochondrial DNA test that black Americans are using to gain clues into their African ancestry. Chasing genealogies in any case is a frustrating business, but with black Americans, for generations there's been this wall of fog that descends about 1870. Everything before that, they've been told, is lost.

And so it was until science found a way to lift the fog, in one patch, and allow a modern face to peer far back into the crowd of ancestors. The moment can be intense.

Other folks cry when they get their results, which I did not do. However, it is very nice and exciting to have more specific information about at least one line in my family tree. It also made for very interesting conversations with family members over the weekend. More importantly, it provides concrete scientific information about my past and is a tangible reminder that our family's history did not begin with slavery. Although this question crossed my mind: have I now gone from African-American to Mafa-Kotoko-Masa American? Or is that Cameroonian-Nigerian-Chadic American? I have settled on American of Mafa, Kotoko, and Masa descent.