I have spent a lot of time over the past few days ruminating on racial identity. My thoughts were sparked by a confluence of events: Last week, PBS aired the final episode of Dr. Henry Louis Gates’ “Faces of America”–the one where participants including comedian Stephen Colbert, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and poet Elizabeth Alexander learned the results of autosomal DNA tests designed to uncover their “racial” lineage. I received a link to a study being conducted by the University of British Columbia, seeking to determine if and how similar DNA tests have influenced participants’ identities. And I also received the results of my own autosomal test–the most recent of several DNA tests I have taken to help further my family history research, pinpoint my African origins and shed more light on my lineage. So, I have been wondering:
Can getting a piece of paper in the mail that says 20 percent this and 30 percent that and 50 percent the other change the way we see ourselves? Should it?
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