A month ago I decided to take a DNA test to assess my health risks, map my ancestral genes and prove my Jedi Heritage. Yesterday, the results came in.
“I think you’re the first Hispanic male to ever voluntarily take a DNA Test.” Tyler Jones.
Maybe Tyler was right, but I was super stoked to send out my lab sample to the good folks at 23andMe.
Like most children of immigrants, I bordered (see what I did there) two different worlds. I was the result of two cultures colliding, and growing up I was never quite sure what to make of it. A positive consequence however, was that it made me very curious about my environment. I wanted to know everything about my culture(s). I became engrossed in history, languages and literature. I think I was the only kid in middle school who read The Count of Monte Cristo.
Of course as I got older, I became much more confident in my place. But my curiosity never went away, in fact with the advent of technology, it only exacerbated. And once I discovered that for only $100 I could map my genes, I was in. I mean, genetics are the apex of curiosity. It tells you at the most granular level who and what you are. Enter 23andMe.
The Mountain View based entity is the leading company in the rapid genetics field. They’re super easy to use and promise to provide results in 3-6 weeks. Not bad for mapping thousands of years of genetics.
After you sign up online, they send you an at home test kit. Once you receive it, you provide a saliva sample and send it back to the laboratory in a pre-paid package. You can check the progress of your results on their site and within a few weeks, you should see full ancestral and medical composition. Not only can you see where your predecessors came from, but you can see what your medical risks are. Pretty cool stuff.
Anyhow, I finally got my results in. And I thought I’d share it with you fine folk.
From my historical understanding, these are the results I expected. My whole family, as far back as my grandparents can remember, came from MExico. So a European/ Native A Mix was expected. However, I was very surprised by the percentage of European ancestry. I had expected it be much lower, with the balance favoring my Native American roots. Physically, I’m shorter and have very little facial hair, both traits of the people that inhabited Mexico before the Spanish Invasion.
Although it’s not pictured, the European subset breaks down as such, 12% Italian, 19% Iberian (most likely Spanish) and 19% undefined Southern European. All that means is that those traits are very general of the area and are harder to pinpoint to a specific location. While we’re on the Italian note, I’ve always had a theory that I was a Roman commander in a previous life. Maybe these results support said theory?
One tiny sliver, about 1.2% comes from Northern Europe, specifically Ireland and England. That, coupled with the Iberian ancestry leads me to believe that my Spanish ancestors could have come from Northern Spain. Not super insightful, but kind of cool knowing there is a slight chance of me spontaneously growing a red beard.
I had also expected to have Asian and African genes, simply based on historical immigration patterns to Mexico.
A minor surprise was finding that I had a bit of Ashkenazi heritage. It’s not much, only 0.3% but it’s another bond that I have with my awesome Israeli co-workers. I was hoping this meant I could get a Bar Mitzvah. I was told I could, but I’d have to get circumcised. I think I’m cool off that. Thanks though Ori and Barak, for the offer to officially join the tribe.
I went home for a family reunion last weekend. During the familial festivities, I told my cousins about the impending results. Most of my family chimed in excitedly, speculating at what the results had in stow for me, and to some extent them. I promised to share the results as soon as I got them.
Not every one in the family shared the same enthusiasm. My oldest cousin Chelly, a staunch right-wing Mexican National insinuated that I took the test because deep down, I must not be happy being Mexican. While I love my cousin dearly, we’ve always our socio-political clashes. She strongly follows the Mexican Catholic doctrine, while I have a multicultural vantage point on issues and believe “that hurricanes are caused by high barometric pressure and not gay marriage.”
Maybe 10-15 years ago I would have been unhappy with who I was. But not now. I no longer let me religion, race or anything specific define me. I define myself.
Heck, even 23andMe thinks so.
But you already knew that.