African American Celebrity Ancestry DNA Tests Open Up The Market For Millions Seeking Genealogy Facts
THE DNA ANCESTRY of African American celebrities such as Oprah, Chris Rock and Snoop Dogg is bringing the reality of genealogy testing to a massive new audience. By Ben Arogundade. [Mar.06.2016]
THE EXTENSIVE AND COMPLEX HISTORY of human migration is such that almost no one on Earth possesses a single ethnicity. Researchers at 23andMe — a leading DNA testing organization based in Mountain View, California — have found that a significant percentage of African-Americans, Europeans and Latinos have ancestry from outside their self-identified ethnicity.
THE DNA MIX
For example, on average, Latinos possess 70 per cent European ancestry, 14 per cent Native American ancestry and 6 per cent African ancestry, while nearly 4 per cent of European Americans possess African ancestry. Meanwhile, the average African-American genome is 73.2 per cent African, 24 per cent European and 0.8 per cent Native American.
Research by 23andMe also revealed that the genes of African-Americans varied strikingly from state to state in America. In Oklahoma for example, it is estimated that 14 per cent of African Americans have genomes that are at least 2 per cent Native American. This higher percentage (the average is 0.8 per cent amongst African Americans) is thought to be due to the greater historical incidence of African American and Native American relationships within that geography.
AFRICAN AMERICAN CELEBRITY ANCESTRY DNA TEST
The last decade has seen an explosion in the culture of ancestry DNA tests, particularly amongst African Americans for whom the search for their black genealogy is charged with issues around identity, belonging and the after effects of slavery. The very term “ancestry DNA” is now Googled approximately 165,000 times per month around the world. Celebrity ancestry DNA testing has now become a feature of major American television shows such as African American Lives and Finding Your Roots, hosted Henry Louis Gates Jr., and Lopez Tonight, fronted by George Lopez. Unveiling a celebrity’s ancestry DNA test result live on television has become a new form of reality-style drama.
BLACK GENEALOGY REVEALED
Some of the highlights of African American celebrity DNA ‘unmaskings’ have included Oprah Winfrey (89 per cent sub-Saharan African, 8 per cent Native American, 3 per cent East Asian); Chris Tucker (83 per cent sub-Saharan African, 10 per cent Native American, 7 per cent European); Snoop Dogg (71 per cent sub-Saharan African, 23 per cent Native American, 6 per cent European); and Chris Rock (80 per cent sub-Saharan African, 20 per cent European). In each case the celebrities were shocked about their true genealogy, as their perceptions of their own identities as black people were proved wrong.
These African American celebrity DNA tests have helped galvanise the market for DNA genealogy testing amongst the general population. Now, for as little as $140 (£99) you too can obtain the information about your ancestral background that has lain hidden since the dawn of humanity. In most cases, results reveal the myth of racial purity, and that we are all “mixed race”, and therefore one family.
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