LET’S TALK: Estimation of ethnicity changed again
So comes another ethnicity estimate from Ancestry.com, the DNA genealogy website and service that I personally first turned to in 2016 when writing about this genealogy for this section. .
Since that story, my ethnicity estimate has been updated several times, with some ethnicities – and percentages of ethnicity – changing/fluctuating.
“Update: One of your ethnic regions has increased to 27%,” reads the subject line of the company’s latest email. The email then proclaimed that “Our latest ethnicity update is ready! Since our previous ethnicity update, we have been working hard to improve our DNA science. Find out how our latest update has affected your AncestryDNA results.” There was the handy link to click.
I clicked. Most of the “13 world regions” now listed were in my early ethnicity estimates from Ancestry, but some percentages had indeed changed.
Contrary to the email subject line, the 27% figure was actually 28%. Previously, most of me was estimated to be from Cameroon, Congo and the West Bantu peoples (formerly just Cameroon/Congo), but now that percentage has dropped to 23%, while Nigeria claims the portion above 28%. There was now also a separate classification of Nigeria, specified as “Central East Region Category”, of which my ethnicity estimate is 3%. The third biggest chunk of Talkmistress is now from Mali, at 16%, according to this latest ethnic update.
As for European blood, Ancestry initially made me think I had a bit of Irish in me, which seemed like confirmation of an old family rumor. Then the classification became vague for a while before being informed that I was rather a little Scottish. This percentage increased from 5% to 8%, equaling the percentage of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana and beating Benin and Togo (6%) and Senegal (3%). Maybe that’s why I’m such a fan of bagpipes, kilts and James McAvoy.
The rest of my composition: the Bantu peoples of the south, the indigenous North Americas, Sweden and Denmark, England and northwestern Europe, and Wales, which each represent 1%.
In fact, being Scottish also confirms a family rumor – that of my late Aunt Ernestine, who somehow got wind that rather than Irish we actually had Scots in us (and in fact we were descendants of a distinguished-sounding clan).
Another thing I found out is that I have about a million second, third, fourth and other cousins, according to DNA Matches which include my mis-listed half-sister Sudi. As I wrote in a previous follow-up column on Ancestry.com results, I’ve had friendly correspondence and phone conversations with a few who now include one of the white cuzzos, a resident of the British Columbia, Canada, which at the time he wrote in 2021 found he was “52% Scottish, 21% Scottish Irish, 19% Welsh and 4% English”.
Most of the messages I received on Ancestry were from cousins trying to figure out specific ancestors/elders we shared…although one young relative just texted “Hello” as if repeating to become a social media hacker, or was one.
In the 2016 story, I mentioned that rumors about family lineage and ethnicity could be proven or disproven by DNA genealogy and added that some surprises revealed by services such as Ancestry might not always be pleasant… Dad might not have “really” been a dad; maybe you weren’t too [fill in the race/ethnicity] as you thought; etc Of course, any Black American with both slave ancestry and long-ago European ancestry must consider the very unpleasant likelihood of how European ancestry originated.
But in light of Ancestry constantly improving its research methods and updating DNA results, one wonders how many family rumors have been proven, then disproven, or vice versa…how much pointless fighting may have ensued. , how many false inferiority or superiority complexes have been generated . And the disturbing thing about all the DNA matches that you can end up with is that it shows how easy it would have been back then, ewww, to marry a relative by mistake.
Fortunately, the positive aspects of taking a DNA test issued by Ancestry or its contemporaries remain present. Chief among them is the chance to find and connect with family.
And even in these days of polarization, division, and resurgent prejudice, some of us may have seen our idea of the extended family. We may all be proud of our most important heritage, but sites like Ancestry help show that we’re all one big family after all, and that, to quote an old “Twilight Zone” episode, “people look alike everywhere. “.
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