African 57%, European 42%, Asian 1%
Over the past year I have really taken an active interest in studying genealogy and recording my family history. I’ve always been interested in this, even as a child. Now that companies like Ancestry.com and 23andMe.com offer DNA tests, I’ve been able to find out information I’ve always wanted to know. All of my life I was asked “What are you?”. Although I wasn’t born to one black parent and one white parent (both of my parents have African and European blood), my experience was that of a biracial child. I remember telling people many times what they wanted to know and they would debate with me about my ancestry as if I was wrong. For one, they had a hard time believing that I didn’t have a 3rd ancestry, like Asian. As far as I knew my ancestors were all African and European decent, though we suspected there could be some Native American.
I remember many incidents that revolved around ethnicity. They were often sad and confusing.
My bus driver in 1st grade was an older black woman. She would always stare at me in the rear view mirror. One day my mom walked me up to the bus and said goodbye. She looked at my mom, then looked at me. When we pulled up to the school she said, “Ok kids, today we are going to get off the bus a little differently. We are going to do it like we did when I was your age, by race”. I could feel my little heart tense up. She then went on to dismiss the white kids first, then the Asian kids, and then the Mexican kids. I waited. She finally called the black kids last and I got up. She smiled at me as if she were satisfied. I don’t remember her really staring at me much after that, except for the occasional smile.
I was so embarrassed the time I spent the night at Amanda Miller’s party in 5th grade. She was popular and blonde and came from a wealthy Mormon family. All of us girls sat in the living room talking when Amanda said, “Yeah my parents said I just wasn’t allowed to invite any black girls.” I hesitated because based on history I knew how this would play out. “Well, I’m black Amanda.” After several gasps, Amanda responded, “Well you know what I mean, you aren’t really black Lezlie.” She stopped hanging out with me though in the days to come.
There are more memories, like the time a white boy behind me on the bus as a freshman yelled out the window to a black boy, “NIGGEEEER”. I turned around and shot him the look of death. He looked confused and I had to tell him I was black. I reported him to the school and we had a mediation. During the mediation he said, “She isn’t even really black, why is she so upset?”
And there were the countless times I received hatred from black girls because of my appearance. That always broke my heart because I wanted nothing more than to be accepted as a black girl. Once I was walking down the hallway at school and a black girl tried to cut all of my hair off out of jealousy as she called me a “yellow bi***. I did nothing to this girl previously aside from try to be friendly.
There were times where I felt if one parent was one thing and one was the other it would have been a little easier, but since they were both a mix who identified as black I felt odd. Could I self-identify as mixed? God knows that was and continues to be my life experience. I had a feeling based on what I knew about my family history that I was close to being half and half anyway but a little more black than white. My recent DNA results proved my suspicions to be correct with basically a 60/40 split (African 57%, European 42%, Asian 1%).
Well, enough of that. Here are some of my findings on my actual genetic breakdown ;-).
My maternal haplogroup is H6a1 and according to an Oxford Journal study on the haplohroup H, my particular branch is Caucasus/Ossetians. You will see later in my breakdown that I have 2% Caucasus DNA that still shows in my blood. I find that pretty amazing since the connection goes back so far. I wasn’t sure what Ossetians were but after a little research I discovered that they are are an Iranian ethnic group of the Caucasus Mountains. So not only was I able to discover the Caucasus root, but I know which specific people group within Caucasian I belong to. I’ve been able to connect several dots like this through months of analyzing my DNA through various programs. For instance, I ran my DNA through a program on GEDmatch.com and it showed that I had traces of “Indo-Iranian”. I thought that was strange (only because I had no previous knowledge of that ancestry). But this Ossetian discovery just confirms that finding is accurate.
Here is a lovely traditional Ossetian dance.