Thursday, May 3, 2012

Finding Your Roots: Samuel L. Jackson, Condoleezza Rice, and Ruth Simmons

This was probably one of my favorite episodes from the Finding Your Roots series so far! Mostly because it helped three African Americans find some roots in certain Africa tribes. Granted, some could have other mixtures from other African slaves brought to the US which married into the family through other lines, seeing as how this only tested the mtDNA which is present in both males and females having been passed down from their mother's mother's mother's line.

With the 23andme testings I have done I have gotten some interesting results for my mtDNA Haplogroups in my family. A study was conducted in Puerto Rico which states that many Puerto Ricans carry Taino Haplogroups, Taino being the originally people to the island before Columbus got there later in 1493. Not everyone carries a maternal native group as you'll see in some of my examples. Provided below are the various maternal Haplogroups from my family. These include: two Indigenous Haplogroups (A2, C1b4)- most likely from Taino/Arawak ancestors, one European (U5b1b1b)- from the Basque area in Spain or the Saami in Northern Scandinavia and then finally one an African Haplogroup (L2a1)- commonly found in Bantu speakers. Here are the Haplogroup maps provided below:

My mother's maternal's grandmother haplogroup
My own maternal Haplogroup
My paternal grandmother's haplogroup
My maternal great grandfather's maternal haplogroup
What was really cool about the show was the exams they took pointed toward exact tribes in Africa, I don't know too much about the process/ science they used to reveal these African tribes but none the less I found it very interesting and amazing! Not every family is able to 'jump the pond' with paper trail, and it isn't too common in African American communities as well in communities effected greatly by diasporas (Jewish, African, etc.) and chattel slavery where slaves had no name or identity.

With Samuel L. Jackson, Condoleezza Rice and Ruth Simmons they were able to trace back to a tribe in Africa. Ruth Simmons was an interesting case, her maternal Haplogroup was ACTUALLY an indigenous haplogroup which Henry Louis Gates Jr. mentions isn't too common among African Americans. Yet they tested Ruth's Y-DNA through her brother (Y-DNA is only passed down through the males in the family) and found her connection to Africa through her paternal line. 

Connection to the Kota tribe from Gabon

Connection to the Tikar tribe in Cameroon

Connection to the Benga tribe in Gabon
Hopefully one day I'll be able to connect myself to my other ancestors, the ancestors who either made their way to Puerto Rico looking for new opportunities, where there from the beginning or were brought over against their own will. Which tribes from Africa contribute to my family? What Spanish towns did my ancestors live in and dream of a new or better world? What did my native ancestors think as they saw the boats reach the shores of Puerto Rico filled with White "Gods"? And who's stories have I yet to unravel.

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