Tracing Our Ancestors

Rick Kittles was an amiable speaker that spoke an air of confidence which gave the impression that he knew exactly what he was talking about. A professor at UIC, he was featured in the PBS series “Finding Your Roots.” He covered how he is using DNA analysis to trace humanity back to its roots in Africa. He challenged the severe lines dividing races, presenting the notion that there are more biological similarities between races than we imagine.

To be honest, Tracing Our Ancestors was not as interesting as I had hoped. Because he was addressing a general, public audience, most of his lecture we covered in class. I feel that in the middle of his lecture it became more about his personal African and European history rather than genealogy as a whole. An interesting bit I had not given much thought to was that skin color is based only on pigment. Although the chromosomes that lead to certain pigment configurations have other genes characteristic of certain ethnicities, the only determinant of skin color is pigment. He also emphasized the difficulties of tracing certain genes because of polygenetic inheritance and went over tracing lineages through the Y chromosome and mitochondria DNA.

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