The 23 And Me Results That Stunned My Indian Family
We Are All Africans From Africa
My jaw dropped and my husband blurted out with confusion covering his face, “What was that Dad?” My father-in-law had just stated that he believed that “we are all from Africa and that life did originate there and so we are all African.” My husband then looked at his brother who was visiting us from Michigan with his kids and stated, “Bro then why did we have to go through so many hoops to be together?”
You see I am an African-American woman and my husband is Indian. His parents are originally from India. My husband was disowned by his parents for wanting to be with a Black woman, they threatened to not attend our wedding (more to come on this), and it has taken us years to be comfortable with and around each other. Truly comfortable to the point that color has become unimportant although in existence.
My in-laws came to the US from India in the 1970s with only $5. My father-in-law was able to take that $5 and turn it into a successful and longstanding business. They achieved the American dream. As iterated by Neil Padukone, “Within America, these shining examples of economic social success have given Indians a reputation of being a “model minority.” We came to America with little, the story goes, abided by the laws of the land, and pulled ourselves up by the bootstraps into positions of success. At its worst, though, it’s a reputation that’s given us contempt for other groups in the US that haven’t “mastered the system” in the same way. It’s a contempt that’s most often directed at Black Americans, who are derided as irresponsible, violent, scary, and worse. They’re stereotypes that are sadly pervasive throughout the US, but we’ve internalized them with the Hindi slur “kallu” that too easily finds itself on the lips of many South Asians. As the comedian, Russell Peters pointed out, “it’s not like Black people colonized India for 200 years!”
23 & ME
With frustration creeping in and his hand firmly planted on the side of his right cheek my husband then said, “Where, and how did you figure this out, dad?” And my father-in-law stated that he has been researching it on the internet and looking into it recently. You see what prefaced this entire conversation was the fact that my brother-in-law had mentioned that he went online to 23 and Me and had a DNA analysis done on himself and 3 of his 4 children. He recalled that the 23 and Me identified that he was either .2% Northern African or .2% Middle Eastern.
Nonetheless, my brother-in-law had found that while he had firmly believed that he was 100% South Asian his entire life he was not. Stunned we stopped everything we were doing and my husband and I asked my brother-in-law to pull up his results online. Hovering over my brother-in-law’s computer with my in-laws seated at the kitchen table we reviewed his 23 and Me results. 23 and Me identified that he was only 98.2% South Asian. He was in fact 1.8% genetically not South Asian. What is the 1.8% according to 23 and Me? He is .6% non-classifiable, .2% Middle Eastern, and 1% European.
Finding out all of this caused a Maury Povich style rant in the room by my husband and his brother. Simultaneously they both demanded answers from my mother-in-law and father-in-law about where did the Middle Eastern and European ancestry come from? And what is the .6% other?
WHAT IS THE .6% OTHER?
Well upon further digging and looking into his biracial children’s 23 &Me results we believe that the .6% includes Northern African. What? Why? How? My brother-in-law has 4 children with a Caucasian American woman. Her DNA profile was exactly as she has stated it is in the nearly 10-year time span that I’ve known her and her 23 and Me results showed such. However, when my brother-in-law went and looked at the DNA profile of his eldest biracial child it showed something more.
His child’s DNA showed that from his dad he has the following DNA breakdown: 48.2% South Asian and 1% European. However, unlike his dad, he is .2% Northern African. Hence in the .6% that my brother-in-law’s 23 & Me came back stating as unknown, there has to be Northern African from my brother-in-law and hence my in-laws. His oldest son’s DNA profile from my sister-in-law was the exact same and inclusive of all European ancestry.
AN EYE-OPENING GREATER HOPE
Completely baffled by this information my father-in-law then said, “Yes we are all from Africa.’ Yes, we are all African.” My husband promptly gave me this weird look and we both smirked underneath our breath.
Where does this leave us today? It leaves us with an understanding that perhaps our DNA is not what many of us have a long-standing belief of it being. Furthermore, it doesn’t hurt to do some further digging. And of course, my husband and I will be looking into having a 23 and Me done on ourselves as well. Not only for our knowledge and our daughter’s but to have a true understanding of the real diversity that is sometimes not apparent. Perhaps people’s curiosity into their DNA profiles will lead to a greater step towards inclusion that is not based on skin color? This is not a sponsored post for 23 and Me. This is a real conversation that happened over the fourth of July weekend.
Have you researched your family DNA and been surprised by the results? Have you had a 23 and Me done and the results weren’t as you expected? Post a comment and share this post. Like our content? Subscribe!