African Americans search for their roots


Many people have learned about their family’s history through DNA testing services, such as Ancestry and 23andMe. However, for African Americans, this passage of self-discovery has setbacks due to the lack of research in certain areas of Africa. 

African Ancestry is a black-owned company that provides the largest database of African lineages. Freshman criminal justice major Destiney Richey took African Ancestry’s test and had a positive review.

“It’s for black people, so I think it would give better results than the others,” Richey said. “It’s more focused on us. It gets more into detail of what part of Africa you come from and even the tribes.”

However, the cost for an African Ancestry test is $300 while 23andMe and Ancestry tests cost $99. 

Senior design and technology major Katarina Kristensen said she knows the test is a luxury item, but she would like to pursue research in the future.

“As a multicultural child, my mom decided for me that she wasn’t going to tell me what I was. She wanted me to figure it out on my own which gave me a sense of independence,” Kristensen said. 

Ancestry and 23andMe provide connections relative to African Americans, but they do not go into detailed specifics regarding some locations of origin and ethnic groups. 

Senior psychology major Lexi Matthews felt conflicted using 23andMe because of her generalized test results.

“I would really like to know what specific African tribe or village my ancestors were apart of, and the results do not show these specifics. The company will update my results if they find out anything more specific related to the regions my ancestry comes from, which I appreciate,” Matthews said.

Still, Matthews said she appreciates her ancestors more after taking the test. 

“Before taking the test I ‘knew’ my roots as they were passed down verbatim, but I wanted to truly know what it is for myself. When I opened my results, I was filled with numerous emotions. I felt like I knew more about myself that no one could tell me without taking the test. After analyzing the outcome, I appreciated my ancestors so much more. My ancestors come from around the world and I know it took a lot of sacrifice for me to be where I am,” Matthews said.