Who knew that this would all start out from binge watching Youtube videos of The Real? In case you don't know what The Real is, its an American chat show hosted by some ladies who talk about all sorts and as the name implies "keep it real" which is hilarious and entertaining. Anyway one day I stumbled upon a clip of them doing a Who Am I episode where the presenters (all women of colour) of the The Real took a DNA test that was meant to reveal their ancestry. The results were presented in the form of percentages of different areas of the world that their ancestors were from, according to their DNA and how it matches or doesn't to a big global database. I'm no scientist but I found the episode fascinating and I ended up tracking down the test they used and buying it for myself! The test AncestryDNA tests costs a lot of money so you might want to save up a bit before you splash out on finding out who you are.
Trying to predict the results
At university, whenever I was waiting for exam results I used to get a sick kind of pleasure from speculating and predicting my grades. And my ethnicity is no exception. So I started doing some calculations based on what I know about my family. No-one really knows what goes on 7 or 8 generations back so I'm probably getting this all wrong but that's the fun of it.
Straight up, I'm half English and half Peruvian. If that was purely it, you would expect my results to show something like 50% British and 50% South American. However, having seen the vast mixture of races that Adrienne from The Real had, I'm trying to segment it even further, and I'm using stereotypes to help me. My English family have dark hair, dark eyes and tan well. Perhaps they have a bit of Mediterranean blood? I'll whack that in there. And the surname Turner is supposedly French, so I'll add that to the mix.
So far I'm up to 5% Iberian Peninsula (aka Spain), 5% French and 40% British.
Now for the Peruvian half! When you Google Peruvian you usually see photos of indigenous, Andean mountain folk with with puffy cheeks, slanted eyes and a tan. Judging by my Peruvian family's relatively light skin and European-looking bone structure I would guess their ancestors aren't 100% native to Peru. In fact I was told that my great grandmother was a Chinese mistress to a judge, someone else has claimed that the Saona branch of the family was founded by two Italian brothers, and another has said that the Black branch had previously changed their surname from Felthaus, or something German like that.
So guestimate for that half of me is 5% Chinese, 5% South American (not that that is even a category in the test), 10% German, 10% Italian, 20% Iberian Peninsula. I've been quite conservative with the non-European nationality estimates as I do by a large look Hispanic.
So how right was I?
So what I was most wrong about was being 40% Great Britain which I based on the fact that my Dad's family is English. However the AncestryDNA test looks back thousands of years ago and Europe West has a lot of mixture with Great Britain due to migration so it makes more sense now. Its also worth remembering that this is a computer's estimate of my ethnicity based on comparing my DNA to that of a panel of people that they think are "native" to a region (i.e. tribes or other families that have not mixed too much with other ethnicities). Each persons DNA that they inherit from their parents is random and so a sibling could have different results. Anything under 4% is considered a "Low confidence" region meaning I might not have any ancestry there - there goes my British pride!
What I do think I can conclude is my "English" side of the family despite their dark Roman looks are probably descended from France, Germany, Benelux etc, a dose of Irish and a smattering of Scandinavia. Yum. And on my Mum's side, there is more Native American than I thought, which in turn reduced the amount of Iberian Peninsula.
I would recommend this test to anyone who is interested in genetics and what DNA they have inherited from their ancestors from thousands of years before. If you do buy the test, remember its just an estimate and that you are unlikely to get ethnicity that fits your current nationality or even your recent family history and it does not mean you are adopted ;)
- REVIEW: Predatory Thinking by Dave Trott