Tracing Our Ancestors

Rick Kittles’ presentation was interesting and brought topics I had covered in my anthropology class and our biology class together.  Kittles presented a Venn diagram that displayed I believe differences between Africans, Europeans, Asians. While the Asian and European category had their own double digit differences and similarities with the other groups, the African category had over 100 differences, which really surprised me. Kittles then attributed this to the fact that humanity had originated from Africa, which was something I learned in anthropology class but I didn’t know that there would be that many differences.

The United States is a large melting pot, and it can be shown biologically even though our skin color may indicate something else. For example, someone may seem African American but through interracial relationships could actually be part European or Asian. No one is truly 100% of a race, which helps debunk the issue of race. There were two scatter plot of what people put down as their race in a two different censuses. The first scatter plot showed that there was a clear cut in what people identified themselves as and barely anyone identified themselves as mixed. However, the second scatter plot showed that more people identified themselves as mixed which could indicate that more people were open to being of different races.

Kittles talked about tracing his own genes, and found out about himself and his ancestors through an organization called 23andme. He also mentioned the booming success and popularity of 23andme and ancestry.com, a site that does something similar. More and more people want to learn their family’s origins and it’s relatively easy to do so now. There was also mention about how looking at the mitochondrial DNA, which we learned that it comes from the mother, and the Y chromosome from the father (if you’re male) allows for tracing our ancestors. This sparked my curiosity in my own family history and I do want to eventually trace my genes and ancestors. Overall, the presentation was interesting but lacking in details and information due to the time constraints. It’s pretty hard to talk about genetic history and the issue of race in such little time. Also Rick Kittles mainly deals with African American genetic history and that was his focus point in his presentation, so it would have been nice if it was more all encompassing.

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