Updated: Sep 8, 2018
DNA Genealogy results not only provide ethnicity estimates and familial migration routes, they reveal generational family secrets and hidden family facts of epic proportions. After a person submits a DNA sample, they anxiously await several weeks for the results to arrive. Upon arrival, these results can decipher some of the following unknown truths.
Who's Been Passing Many individuals have been able to "pass" and have gone through great trouble to keep their heritage from others (1). I have learned that spouses and children of passing adults had no clue that their loved ones were passing. The fears and pains of passing are best portrayed in one of my favorite movies, a 1959 drama, "Imitation of Life". In this movie, the Character Sara Jane passed for white and broke her mother's heart in the process. I recently learned of another prime example of passing after I read a Washington Post article, "My mother spent her life passing as white" (2). The author, Gail Lukasik, wrote that, "racial mixing is embedded in many Americans’ DNA, whether they know it or not." How true.
Misrepresentation of Native Heritage A few of my "Black", African American, friends and loved ones shared that they were surprised by their DNA results after they found European and Scandinavian ancestry. They were actually disappointed because they believed their grandparents were of Native American heritage. At least, that was the story they had always been told. This caused me to wonder if their great, great grandparents had found an acceptable explanation for having a bi-racial child from a coerced or secret relationship in their era (*). Maybe a purported Native heritage was as commonly claimed by our ancestor's centuries ago as it remains widely professed today.
An inflated Native heritage is not isolated to Blacks. Individuals of Hispanic and European descent have commonly been told that they were part Cherokee, with little to no lineage appearing in DNA results. Unverifiable claims of Native heritage is commonly referred to as the "Pretendian Phenomenon". In preparation for this article I have found that any DNA markers that reveal Native American heritage are not sufficient alone unless accompanied by Native Tribal records (3).
Paternity & Familial Links Utilizing DNA to determine paternity has become increasingly popular. These tests have determined paternity for millions of people worldwide. DNA results have helped unsuspecting fathers learn that they successfully conceived a child. Families have grown, with the introduction of once unknown siblings, cousins, and other familial members. Family trees today are increasingly overloaded with relatives.
Criminals in The Family DNA has long been used in forensics to link criminals to crimes, and also to exonerate the innocent from wrongful criminal charges. More recently, DNA genealogy has identified a long, sought-after, serial rapist and killer. The man was referred to as the "Golden State Killer," aka "East Area Rapist", and he reportedly raped over 50 women and killed a dozen people. The Golden State Killer managed to elude authorities for more than 40 years until his DNA was linked to a close relative that participated in DNA testing (4).
Royal & Famous Bloodlines Yes, DNA results have revealed royal lineage. Learning ones' pedigree can be disappointing if unexpected results are discovered. However, it is exciting to find famous or royal relatives. This finding, unfortunately, cannot make you an instant heir to any throne, nor does it mean you will inherit a financial abundance from your famous relatives. Having a royal or celebrity blood connection is something that cannot be taken away. If you find either connection, claim it!
Health Disparity/Illness DNA testing can reveal limited risk probabilities to determine if individuals are predisposed to develop a rare or debilitating medical condition like Parkinson's, Celiac or Alzheimer's. It is important to note that there are additional potential risk factors including, but not limited to, our environmental exposures, and lifestyles. This information is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice.
1- Uban Dictionary, Passing
2- Washington Post, article: My mother spent her life passing as white
3 - Indigenous Peoples Council on Bio colonialism, article: http://www.ipcb.org/publications/briefing_papers/files/identity.html
4- New York Times, article: The Golden State Killer Is Tracked Through A Thicket OF DNA, and Experts Shudder
5- NBC News, article: FDA Approves 23andMe 's At-Home DNA Test for 10 Diseases
*This asterisk contained in paragraph 3 is my personal theory that is not supported by any factual evidence.