Tuesday, June 17, 2008

On the Origins of My Blackness

Me: How would you start a blog entry entitled: "On the Origins of My Blackness?"
Jon: Once...In a world...Where everyone was still almost primates and the glaciers were receding...My grandma marched West.
Me: That's charming Darling but my Grandmother is a white Mormon woman from Provo Utah. She fucking rocks my socks off but black African she is not.

(I just thought that was hilarious)

Several months ago my Mom decided to trace our ancient ancestry as far back as science could explain. That would be back to Africa. When I say this I don't mean that my people came from Africa 6 generations ago. No, I mean Africa as in the cradle of civilization as in the first people that we are all descended from. Yes. Very intense. and totally 100% awesome.
How could she, Andrea, possibly do this? Actually it was really easy for her. She took a swab of the inside of her cheek JUST LIKE WE LEARNED IN MIDDLE SCHOOL! and sent it (and thus her DNA) in to National Geographic's: Genographic Project. All of the research and information that was gathered is based on my Mom's mtDNA. That is her Mitochondrial DNA. Read a book. Mitochondrial DNA is inherited from mothers only and scientists say that they can identify the original "Mitochondrial Eve" and based on mutations in the mtDNA can trace a person's ancestors all the way back to that woman. The results of the study, that is 175,000 years of genetic history, are outlined below.
  • Branch of Human family tree: Haplogroup H
  • "Mitochondrial Eve" - All people alive on the planet can trace maternal lineage back to her (Yes, even YOU)
  • "Simply put, Eve was a survivor"
  • She probably got a lot of booty.
  • Her descendants moved around within Africa and eventually split into 2 groups characterized by a set of mutations their members carry
  • After co-existing a few thousand years an "important" mitochondrial mutation occurred and went on to form a new group.
  • This new group headed westward in Africa
  • Signpost Ancestor: born 80,000 years ago and began a new group (because of another mtDNA mutation). Group important for its movement North.
  • They were like it is hotter than hell here and I'm starting to burn more than usual...
  • These ancestors were the first modern humans to leave Africa representing the deepest branches of the tree found outside of that continent.
  • About 50,000 years ago Europe began to melt. Land in Africa changed from desert to savanna. The game my ancestors hunted headed North across the Saharan Gateway.
  • New groups formed- my ancestors left the African continent across the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt and likely followed the Nile Basin
  • I'm related to King Tut probably, which is awesome. Although he was young and I think its clear who would have done a better job. (Pointing to myself)
  • They chilled in western Asia for a spell
  • Eventually made their way to Turkey and Mt. Caucasus in Georgia (which I LOVE because Miss Manana, a woman I taught at the preschool with is from there and she rocks my world) This is where the word Caucasian comes from.
  • This group split off into two new lineages
  • 15,000-20,000 years ago it got really cold. Too cold. Water was locked in the polar ice caps and populations drastically reduced. My ancestors headed to Italy and the Balkans.
  • 15,000 years ago the ice sheets began retreating and my people, clever as they were went north again and recolonized western Europe. My genetic group makes up 40-60% of the gene pool of most European populations
  • My people went to England, Italy and Spain and eventually- thousands of years later, came to America.
  • And killed it.
So there you have it. An argument for the fact that we are all actually related. You, me, that guy from Saudi Arabia that read my blog last week, Michael Jackson and Ghandi- we are all one big happy family! How I LOVE science.

I know what you are thinking and the answer is Yes. I am SO waiting for the moment that I can look at someone and say ITS CAUSE I'M BLACK- HUH? that will fucking rule.