She isn’t African enough?! DNA Ancestry tests feat. It’s Okay To Be Smart


(smooth music) – [Evelyn] Are you tired of
being plain old ordinary black? Wish you could wear ethnic paraphernalia like a Kiss Me, I’m Irish button? Or a legitimate feathered headdress not associated with the music festival? When people ask you
where you’re really from, do you wish you could say more than, Oh, you know, a slave ship. Well, have I got a product for you. Just fill this container with
your spit, or blood, or tears, or whatever, then sign
away your cloning rights and ability to process gluten. Send it to us, and voila, we’ll tell
you what you really are. – I’m 2% a Jewish. – And 100% more interesting. – DNA testing for genetic ancestry is one of the fastest
growing consumer markets. – The industry more than doubled in 2017, and it’s now estimated that well over 26 million
people have access to their DNA profiles. – Most people who have
tested are in the US, and most of those people are white, black, and mixed race Americans
whose ancestors go back at least three generations here. – That’s right. People of this great melting
pot of a country want to know what melted? How much melted? And where the stuff that melted came from? – Ew. (upbeat funk music) – Today, we’re gonna look at the positives and negatives of these
test for Black Americans. Black folks have deep
roots in the US, obviously. The importation of slaves
was banned in 1808, so most of us have been here
for well over 200 years, but we’re the least likely
to know our ancestral past because of slavery. – It’s not fair. We deserve to know what’s in our hot, bubbly melting pot
goo just like everyone else. – So how does all of this really work? – I don’t know. I’m not a scientist. – That was rhetorical. We got Joe. – When you send your DNA off to one of those personal genomics
or ancestry companies, they don’t read all 6,000,000,000
letters of your DNA. They only have to read a
few 100 or 1,000 spots. What they get is a kind of bar code, that describes your unique combination of DNA letters at these spots, because who wouldn’t want
their entire identity summarized by a barcode? Then they compare your unique barcode with thousand of reference individuals from different geographical areas to see what you share and what you don’t. Sprinkle a little math on it, and then they send you their best guess of where your DNA comes from. – Well, that sounds
pretty cut and dry, right? It’s just like a DNA matching game. – Wow, Evelyn. I never expected you of
all people to be so naive. – Excuse me? – There’s one major problem
that Evelyn fails to foresee. The genetic databases
that these companies use to play the DNA matching
game have major gaps, major non-white gaps. Nearly 80% of people who have participated in studies about genes
are of European decent. – Right. Gotcha. – That means that analyzing the data of Africans, Middle-Easterners, Asians, and Indigenous Americans
is pretty difficult, and especially difficult
if you’re a mixture, because many DNA segments
are shared among groups. – So why don’t they
just go to those places, and get more of the DNA? (upbeat music) – [Scientists] Hello there! – Oh, sorry. Jambo! – [Scientists] Yes, Jambo! – Would you ladies be
willing to spit in this cup for a research project
we’re doing in America? – What are you talking about? – We already know that Jesus. – Oh, no. This isn’t anything religious. This is for science. – Science, oh gee. How do I explain this? It’s like you look up at the sky, and you think, Hmm, why is it blue? Until you decide to experiment. – We know what science is. How do you think we can keep
our fish out in this hot sun, and it doesn’t spoil. We use science. – I understand if
spitting is unattractive. We could use some of your hair or blood. – Let me ask you something. Let’s say we go to where you’re from. I’m going to say New Jersey. – Oh, yes. Well I am from Jersey. – I can tell. So we go to your home, and we say, hey lady, give
us some of your blood, and your sweat, and your
tears, and your spit, for a project we are working on in Africa. How would that make you feel? – Well… – I know you Americans
don’t do nothing for free. You’re getting rich from this spit. – Rich? Me? (laughs) I can hardly keep up
with my student loans. (laughs loudly) – We all must do our part for science. – Science. – Is science gonna raise my kids? – No. – Is science gonna keep my
man from gettin’ on my nerves? Is science going to
end the negative impact of western imperialism on my society? – No, no, no. – Ladies, if you don’t
want no rice or no fish, then you can take your spit
cup and go back to Jersey. – I am pretty hungry. – [Scientist] Don’t
think I’ve eaten all day. – We’ll take some of your fish and rice. – Okay, come. Sit, sit, sit. – Okay, come sit. We’ll talk about this DNA science. – That went surprisingly well at the end. – All because of a little
thing called reciprocity. In February of 2017, a consortium of African scientists called
the H3 Africa Initiative, released ethical guidelines
for foreign researchers. – So good. Now scientists have to evaluate how their work directly benefits the African community they’re studying. – Yes, and that includes
economic benefits. Which gets into another
issue with these tests. How the companies make money
off of your genetic data. – Well, you pay for the service. – Yeah, but then for and into eternity, they can sell your genetic data to third parties like research
firms and drug companies. Most of them let you
opt out, but some don’t. – I don’t know. As a black person, that
makes me uncomfortable. What about what they
did to Henrietta Lacks? Her cancer cells are still
the most important cells in medical research. They are saving lives to this day, and neither her nor her family ever received any compensation. – That is so terrible. Well, these tests only take a little spit, which unlike blood or cancer cells, isn’t really enough to do anything with but sequence and store
the DNA in a database. – Well, okay. That’s a little better. – Yeah, but I hear you. What if they get hacked, and everyone finds out I
have restless leg syndrome, and I’m allergic to carrots? – Well, everyone knows now, so… – It’s definitely something
I’ve thought about when I did my DNA testing. – Wait? You’ve taken the test? – Yeah, I’ve done five. – What? First of all, too many. But Azie, we’re doing a whole
episode about DNA testing, and you didn’t think to
tell us you’ve had five? – I forgot. – Oh my God. I can’t. – Okay. We’ll, let’s take a look at my results. So as you can see, each company has gotten different results based on what is in their database, and how their algorithm
analyzes my DNA barcode. – Okay. But some of these are way different. Like that one has only three places on it. Oh, hey Kenya. But that one has basically
everywhere on it. – Also Kenya. – [Evelyn] Hey cousin. – (laugh) Yeah, the discrepancies
between these maps is nuts, but when you think about it, a lot of ethnicities share
a large portion of DNA, because of shared history, and you know, people
getting it on and stuff. So if a company doesn’t
have enough non-white DNA, they won’t be able to distinguish well between non-white ethnicities. When they analyze the DNA, they put it through the
algorithm many dozens of times, and then average the results. So the 17% that I share
with them is an average. Look, I might share 0% or as much as 33%. – Okay, so those are countries now, but there are a lot of ethnicities there, like the Ashanti, the
Akan, Songhai, Hausa. – Ancestry.com explains that national lines are pretty arbitrary. This region has about 60
different ethnic groups that share DNA. – That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. – I know. But the opposite is the
case for Benin/Togo, because my range for
that was not wide at all, 28 to 30%. – Whoa. Okay. Well, I’ve heard about a
company that specializes in African DNA. – [Azie] Yes, called African Ancestry. – And they have the
world’s largest database of African DNA, and they
can determine your lineage down to one exactly
country and ethnic group. – They can. It’s deep ancestry. – Come again there? – Don’t ask me. Ask Joe. – Do you remember from biology class how your DNA is all inside
something called the nucleus? – Yeah! – Well, that actually
wasn’t quite accurate. There’s a little bit of DNA inside a part of the cell called the mitochondria. Way back in deep time,
these mitochondria used to be free swimming creatures, but they got swallowed by a bigger cell, and now they live inside all of our cells. These things have their
own genetic material. Unlike your other 46 chromosomes, there’s no shuffling when it’s
passed between generations. But what’s more, all of your mitochondria
came from your mother’s egg, not your father’s sperm. So we can look at that DNA
to trace an unbroken line of ancestors stretching
back through every female in your family tree. Now tiny changes in this
DNA also let us track how human populations have migrated, for most people at least. The most ancient mitochondrial
DNA in humans comes from Africa, where our species originated. And we can even trace
it back to one woman, about 150,000 years ago. Scientists call her Mitochondrial Eve. She wasn’t the only homo
sapiens female alive then, but only her lineage lives on today. So, I guess that means we’re
all basically related, right? – Yeah, we’re gonna get there, Joe. One day, one day. – Right. – So, by analyzing mutations
in your mitochondrial DNA, African Ancestry can
pinpoint the exact place and ethnic group of your maternal line. – Great. So have you taken that test? – No, I can’t, and I’ll show you why. So my ancestry starts here,
just like everyone else’s, East Africa. Then we’re itching to migrate. – Bye, Mom! We gotta see the world. – [Azie] First, my people
went north to Egypt. – [Evelyn] Someone should build
some pyramids here, right? – They were not into
building pyramids, I guess. So they went to Turkey. – [Evelyn] Oh, I love these
Caucasus Mountains, fam. We’ll climb to the tippy top. Hey, guys. You see them weird
looking people over there with the hairy faces? – [Azie] OMG. What? We gotta check them out. So they crossed the mountains into… – [Evelyn] Europe? – Yep. My maternal ancestors were
the first homo sapiens to go to Europe, after the Ice Age, where they met… Neanderthals! – Fight! – We beat up the Neanderthals, but not before having their babies ’cause Southern Europe is so romantical. – Oh my God. – Which explains my Neanderthal DNA. Weird. But wait, I’m not finished. Apparently, we were too hot. Let’s go up there and be British. Anybody got a boat? – Okay, so your maternal
ancestors are British? – No. So they migrated north again and… – There isn’t much north left. – Ended up in Finland, where
they followed the reindeer, and knit sweaters, and sang
songs around the fire and ice. – [Evelyn] You’re Finnish? – [Azie] Yep! All done. – Okay, so your mitochondrial
DNA isn’t very African, and that’s why you can’t
take the African DNA test. Well, how does it feel? Did any of this change
the way you see yourself? – It did make me feel better
about hating hot weather. – Right. – And I learned a lot
of interesting things, like how expansive the Bantu
migration through Africa was. Oh, and how Aka Pygmy men
spend the most time caring for their infants than any
other men in the whole world. – Okay. They got Tinder out there? ‘Cause they sound like husband material. – I know, right? And the Sámi tribe were the
indigenous people of Finland. Their traditional homes
look a lot like teepees. And here’s my sister. See the resemblance? – Those cheeks! Genetics don’t have much
to do with identity. I know my ethnic ancestry,
for the most part. I’m from Kenya. My people are Kikuyu. But culturally, I’m Black-American. – True. So, would you ever take a DNA test, Eve? – Actually, yeah. Because even though I
know my ethnic ancestry, I don’t actually know my
ancestors, the people. After my grandparents, it’s
kind of a blank for me. – And if you took the test, you could find your cousins, like my favorite internet
cousin might be my real cousin. – Yeah, sure. But I was thinking more
like my family tree. DNA testing can help you with
your genealogical research. So, what about you? Would you take an ancestry test? Why or why not? – An if you have, did you
find anything surprising? Did it change the way you see yourself? – Let us know in the comments. – Like, comment, subscribe,
follow us on social media, and we’ll see you in the next one. – Bye! – Bye! (smooth music)

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