When I started this genealogy journey over seven years ago, I had no idea that DNA would be such a hot top in the genealogy world. I studied health science in college, so I took a lot of science classes, biology, microbiology, anatomy, physiology, and physics just to name a few. Now I wish I had paid closer attention when DNA was being discussed. I have some basic knowledge of DNA, Deoxyribonucleic Acid. I know that I get half of my DNA from my father and half from my mother. So that means that I have a forth from each grandparent and so on and so on. I also know that my DNA is also known as my genetic instructions or makeup. I also know my DNA is why I have curly hair, brown eyes, and the shaped nose I have and have a predisposition to cancer. And like Tyler Perry’s Madea said, I know that ‘DNA don’t lie’. I know the basics about DNA, and I thought the basics would be more than enough. But I was wrong…DNA testing is the topic of genealogy that everyone is talking about these days. Genealogical DNA testing can obviously tell a person who they are related to, where they are from, and their ethnicity.
I received a DNA test from Ancestry for Christmas in 2014. My only reason for wanting to have the test done was to know what part of Africa I was from. I had no idea at the time that I would also receive DNA matches from other people, strangers, who shared DNA with me that had tested with Ancestry also. The test was as simple as spitting in a tube, sealing up the tube, and mailing it back to Ancestry. I received my results about five weeks later. I got my results, printed off my ethnicity chart and told the world that I am indeed Black. I am 84% West African: 28% Congo, 20% Benin, 13% Ghana, 9% Nigeria, 9% Mali, and 5% trace from Bantu and Senegal. The test had served its purpose for me, and I never looked at my DNA matches until a couple of months ago.
In September 2016 I went to the International Black Genealogy Summit in Washington DC, and I attended a class on using DNA to break down brick walls. In this class is when my basic knowledge of DNA got a little more advanced. I learned about Y chromosomes and Y-DNA testing. Only males have a Y-chromosome because women have two X chromosomes. The male-line ancestry can be traced using the Y-DNA for generations because it is transmitted from father to son nearly unchanged. Women who are interesting in this direct paternal DNA ancestry must have their father, brother, or paternal uncle take a test. When I heard this I immediately thought of my paternal grandfather, Booker Mays. I figured this test could help me find some members of his family. I want to find out which test is the best for Y-DNA testing and get one of my male relatives to submit a sample.
Aside from the Y-DNA testing, I also want to get someone from my maternal and paternal side tested. That way I will have someone from both my maternal and paternal side in the system which will help with triangulation. That way when I look at my DNA matches, I will be able to determine which side of the family we are related by reviewing who our shared match is. I plan on contacting some of my DNA matches with the hope of finding new relatives like on Relative Race. DNA testing and analysis will be my new focus. I will be spending less time in libraries and research centers this year as I will be concentrating more on my DNA results. And this is why my journey continues…