There’s nothing like knowledge of self.
While many folks are celebrating the scientific wonders that birthed National DNA Day (in 1953 a group of scientists, including James Watson and Francis Crick, published papers on the structure of DNA), others are thinking about the practical applications of the ingenuity in modern times. Hands down, the one thing people of color—particularly those whose roots are connected to the transatlantic slave trade—should consider is using a DNA test to connect with their heritage. Why? Because American culture purposely focuses on one component of Black and Brown culture, and that is slavery.
But people of color had a tremendous lineage before, during and post enslavement.
It’s not a coincidence that anything that would naturally evoke feelings of pride, stoke ambition, or combat counterproductive behaviors in our communities has been suppressed from the oppressed. This isn’t a magical salve. Knowing the countries that your ancestors are from won’t solve all of the issues contributing to oppression and the lack of socio-economic parity in the United States, but it is a game-changer. For starters, it would be great to reference something other than Wakanda when you throw that X across your chest. You may not have the budget to travel to all of the countries your ancestors hailed from—Black Panther director Ryan Coogler famously crisscrossed the continent to inform the blockbuster— but you’ve got Internet access (even if it’s at the public library!).
Celebrate National DNA Day by investing in learning more about yourself.
And make sure the way you spend your dollars aligns with what you value. Companies like AncestryDNA will offer highly discounted specials until 4/29. Black-owned companies like African Ancestry may not offer as steep discounts but the dollars will recycle back into our communities. Either way, knowing more about who you are is the start.