Saturday, February 10, 2007

Miracle or scam?

In one of those rare, precious moments of spare time, I was - as Wendy Williams calls it - "luxuriating" at my apartment last week, thoroughly enjoying my latest digital channel discovery: VH1 Soul. (I LOVE this station! It’s like nostalgic R&B-meets-neosoul/underground R&B/Soul. Thank you Comcast!)

Anyway, so this commercial comes on that really catches my attention. It shows a series of young black men and women who appear to be around my age, all varying in shades of black from deep mocha to chocolate to café au lait.
And in each shot, each of them proudly states their hometowns: “I’m from the Bronx.” “I’m from Atlanta.” “I’m from D.C.,” etc.
Then, they show each of them put a cotton swab in their mouths, and again they state their hometown, but there’s more. For example, one girl takes the cotton swab out of her mouth and says something like this: “I’m from the Bronx, but my people are originally from Nigeria.” And each person goes on like this, stating different African continents.
Then, the voiceover says if you want to trace your roots, visit the VH1 Soul web site.
I’m shocked because it appears the people on this commercial are able to do what, up until this point, not many of us black folks have ever had the resources to do: Trace our roots back to Africa.

While many other families can trace their family history all the way back to England, France or whatever other continent, because of the nature of our “arrival” here, many of us black Americans don’t have that option.
Thanks to Alex Haley’s “Roots,” my parents’ generation and perhaps generations before them at least had a chance to get a glimpse or idea of what our roots may look like.

So, you mean to tell me in 2007, there’s a Web site that can solve this mystery as easily as, say, finding a daiquiri shop on Bourbon Street?

Well I went to the VH1 Soul site and it provides a link to this site which is supposed to provide this incredible information. Sure enough, they do promise to help you to find your roots, but, of course it’s gonna cost you. Like somewhere between $250 to $500, depending on what package you choose. And those are just the Black History Month specials.
I shared this with an older relative and before I could even get it out good, his first words were: “It’s a scam!”
But what do y’all think? Is it really possible that one DNA test can unlock the mysteries of centuries-old bloodlines all the way back to the Motherland? Or is this yet another attempt to exploit black folks?
I mean, if you think about it, they could tell you anything if you don’t know the answer anyway. Right? Or maybe I’m being too skeptical?


Kevan said...

Yes, it is possible. In fact, since we are all from Africa regardless of modern day race, it's possible for everyone.

For those of more direct African descent, DNA analysis can narrow it down to a particular region in Africa.

DNA testing to that degree is fairly expensive, so it's no surprise it costs a pretty penny. Is it worth it? Depends on what you value.

Is it a scam because they could tell you anything because you're ignorant? Well, they are supposedly providing a scientific service, and good science can be factually verified.

But I think the important part of tracing roots is doing the genealogical research as best as possible to generate a sense of connection to your ancestors -- like Alex Haley did.

I just read a good popular book on human evolution and DNA: "Before the Dawn: Recovering The Lost History of Our Ancestors" by Nicholas Wade.

Kathryn Usher said...

I think you should convince your bosses to pick up the tab and get the test done and then you could do a story. If you could trace in Africa your area then you could convince them to pay for a trip over there and there's another story (not to mention the blog entries). I say go for it!

By the way I blogged about you and linked to Link 222 on my blog about the story you did on the tourism brand survey. If you want to see it it's here

Donecia Pea said...

Sorry I'm so late responding to this, but kevan that's some really interesting insight. Wow! So it really is possible huh? I'm actually really curious now...

kathryn usher thanks SO much for the shout out on your blog and actually that's an incredible story idea! I might try to convince the bosses to let me do that. That would be so cool.