In 2003, Dr. Rick Kittles and Dr. Gina Paige collaborated on a groundbreaking way to help Black people reconnect to their roots beyond the limits of their current family trees. As African-Americans, our connection and contact with our family members vary from tight nuclear families to large, well-kept branches and a little bit in between, but they recognized how many of us don’t know much beyond our ties to cousins, aunts, uncles beyond the bounds of the United States.
Here’s the easy truth.
We’ve got blood everywhere. Whether or not we know our more distant family or not (yet!), we’re still connected by a powerful resource that can never be broken: our ancestry. Your very existence is special and the blood that flows through your veins contains DNA that relates you to many people -- present and past.
You are not alone. You never have been and you never will be.
Now here’s the hard truth.
While our blood connects us, it’s spread near and far. Our goal here at African Ancestry is to help and support people in tracing their maternal and paternal lineages of African descent to allow them to reconnect with the roots of their family tree. That tree that stands in the motherland of Africa. The motherland, where Africans have originated is beautifully rich and diverse, now home to 54 present-day countries, and even more tribal and social groups that people have been a part of for generations.
Today, we encourage our customers to follow our lineages, both on maternal and paternal sides. The MatriClan Test, which provides you with the mitochondrial DNA tracing of your mother (and her mother, and her mother, and hers), is our most taken DNA kit since anyone can take. The PatriClan Test, traces the paternal DNA, and can only be taken by those who have a Y Chromosome (in other words, those who have been born as male).
The tests have a 92% and 65% chance of getting an African test result, respectively.
We as a people -- genetically and eternally connected -- will never be separated. Yet, we have been separated -- uprooted from one another physically, culturally and linguistically. Much of our uprooting had to do with the slave trades and the turmoil that came with it. This is the bitter truth that informs the results of our tests.
Why the 65%?
The birth of the Diaspora, which has extended the African culture across the Americas, the United Kingdom and more, came from the unfortunate movement of Black and brown bodies during the slave trade.
While, in present-day, we’re proud of our Diaspora and how we’ve rooted in new lands, our DNA tells deep stories of our ancestral lineage: the family, the accomplishments, the resilience and, unfortunately the harsh ways in which our bloodlines have mixed. This would, in large part, explain the possibility of not getting an African result from one of our tests.
Today we proudly celebrate being part of the African Diaspora, being rooted in new lands. Our DNA tells deep stories of our ancestral families, accomplishments, resilience and unfortunately the harsh realities of how our bloodlines have mixed.
Very few of us are 100% African. In fact, the average Black person descended from enslaved people has 75% African ancestry and 25% European ancestry. But we can’t always see it and we don’t always know where in the family the mixing occurred.
This explains why there is a possibility of not receiving an African result from one of our tests.
The PatriClan Test has a 35% chance of returning a non-African result. We believe that occurs as a result of White men (slave owners, slave traders and others) fathering sons with enslaved African women. This happened a lot! Those men passed their European ancestry to their African male children.
On the other hand, the probability of receiving a non-African result from a MatriClan Test is much lower. White women were not having Black and brown babies as often as their White male counterparts. So, there is a 92% chance that the MatriClan Test will have an African result.
We recognize that knowing this information can bring heaviness to the psyche or trigger some uncomfortable feelings. We also recognize the resilience and power that comes from the survival of their DNA that has passed down from generation to generation to make its way to the bold and brilliant individual reading this information.
If you have taken either test and have received a non-African result, we encourage you to sit with the information, reach out to a trusted family or friend (that includes us, here at African Ancestry, since once you take the test, you are family now!), and consider a few things:
Most importantly, we want you to know that you can, indeed, still be of African descent even if you received a non-African result on one test. Our tests highlight the bloodline that is most prominent in your DNA. So while the biggest percentage is what we note, there is still a mix of other backgrounds in your DNA. Additionally, whatever test you took only influences part of who you are, not your whole. With additional tests, you can learn additional lines -- your mom’s mom’s line, your mom’s dad’s line, your dad’s mom’s line and your dad’s dad’s line. You see, your ancestral story is never complete with just one test.
1. Knowing your entire story is powerful. While your results may be surprising (or not!) growing the knowledge around your ancestral story can be a wonderful reminder of the strength, resilience and power in your bloodline. Acknowledge the struggle of the past, but allow it to influence the success of your present and the future of your legacy.
2. We are here for you! If you’re having feelings around receiving your non-African results, please do reach out to us. Our team is equipped to embrace you as family (hey cousin!) and hear your thoughts - good or bad - around the findings. We also encourage you to connect with members of the private African Ancestry group, exclusive to family members, on Facebook. Once in the group, you’ll be able to chat and connect with others who have received results of MatriClan and PatriClan tests.
3. Dr. Rick Kittles, our Co-Founder and Lead Geneticist, presents as a Black man, had some interesting results. Before co-founding African Ancestry with Dr. Gina Paige, Dr. Kittles grew up in Sylvania, Georgia where he was very aware of the two distinct “Kittles” families in area: one Black, one white. When taking his PatriClan Test, he confirmed that a non-African result. By looking at him, you wouldn’t be able to tell that his paternal lineage traced back to Germany. This is part of why Dr. Kittles saw that it was so important for people to know their roots and understand the limitations of relying on skin color to determine ancestry. He shares his experience in this video here.
On the contrary, our Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Rolando Brown, is an Afro-Cuban American test taker who does not always present as Black in society. This has led Rolando to do deep identity work, including him taking both the MatriClan and PatriClan tests. Being raised with a deep understanding of his multilineage biracial ancestry across Cuba, Europe and several African countries, it wasn’t surprising when one of his tests confirmed that he shares genetic ancestry with people living in Spain and Portugal today. However, African Ancestry helped him to achieve what no one else could–specifically tracing his maternal genetic ancestry to the Kpelle people living in Liberia today. Identifying that everyone on his entire maternal lineage, from the past and into the future is Kpelle, has provided him a stronger connection to his roots. Rolando shares his perspective on the many different relationships we have across the African Diaspora, and how we identify in this video here.
There are some hard truths and some that are easier, but they all are pieces of the greatest puzzle. In this case, they inform the puzzle of who you are, who you came from, and the legacy you will continue.
Have you taken an African Ancestry DNA Test and received a non-African result? Let’s talk about it. Share how you’ve embraced that part of your ancestral story in the comments below.