DNA Reveals America's Mixed Race History

23andMe posted an article that was written by Elliot Aguliar, Ph.D, who is a scientific advisor for the Africa Center in New York City. He points out that America has not only been a multiracial nation but a nation of mixed-race people.

In the article, Elliot Aquliar wrote: While the historical evidence can tell us that racial mixing happened, the advent of DNA testing from 23andMe and other companies has helped to bring to light America’s complicated racial history on an individual level. The science of population genetics now allows us to quantify – and appreciate – the scale of past mixing and its effects on the ancestry of contemporary Americans.

Elliot Aguliar points out that in a 2015 study by 23andMe by scientist and population geneticist Kasia Bryc and colleagues in the American Journal of Human Genetics, found that, on average, self-reported African Americans in a dataset of 23andMe customers, had about a quarter of European ancestry. Another study, by researchers at McGill University published two years later showed a lower, but still very significant average level of European ancestry, about 17 percent.

In addition, Elliot Aquilar notes that the findings from these studies, and the results of individual genetic ancestry tests, undermine the long-held binary classifications of black and white. The notion is the legacy of the so-called ‘one-drop rule,’ by which a person with a single known ancestor of African descent was considered black. That rule had its earlier origins in colonial-era legislation, but it wasn’t until the Jim Crow era that it became a fixed legal and social reality.

The fact that race has been assigned according to social definitions, as opposed to one’s actual ancestry, underlines the fact that race is a social construct and not a biological reality. There is a lot more information to be found in Elliot Agular’s article on 23andMe.

Related Articles on FamilyTree.com:

How We Define Race Might not be as Clear as Once Thought

23andMe Black Representation in Genetic Research Study

Ancestry Works to Bring Black Family Histories Forward

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