Your DNA Test’s Unanticipated Insight
Many people are skeptical of ancestry DNA tests they see online. YouTubers are constantly promoting the test, but their reasoning is not always convincing. We’ve all heard stories about friends’ DNA tests saying they could sing or dance. They can’t.
Knowing about your ancestors may not seem to matter much, especially if you think you know where they come from.
But curiosity can get the better of you. Before you know it, you’ll be exploring your genealogy with a DNA testing kit.
Here is why.
Genetic testing for health conditions
The most convincing reason to do DNA testing is that, in addition to all the information about your ancestry, you can also find out if you have a predisposition to any particular illnesses. Various cancers run in many families, and early diagnosis can be critical.
There are conditions that may have an impact on your life. You could have a certain hereditary condition that, while not life-threatening, could have serious consequences for any children you have. With this knowledge, you would need to look at whether it is worth using alternative routes to conceive.
In this sense, DNA testing is practical. It provides you with concrete information you can and will use. Yet, do ancestry results make any difference in everyday life?
The pull of identity
As a white person growing up in the South, you may never have had to question your racial or ethnic identity. Even if you simply think of yourself as just a person, this is a relatively short-sighted approach.
People of color have no choice but to think of themselves by their race. If they do not, others will be sure to think that way for them. Becoming more sensitive to this can be an important turning point in the way you think about race and your part in the system.
Getting ancestry results can help you cross a bridge and see that, just like anyone else, you have a particular identity shaped by forces beyond your control. It can give you a better idea of how you got to where you are in the world and why your ancestors moved in this direction. You are just as much defined by where you come from as anyone else.
Identity is a major subject of attention these days. It helps us see how other people experience life in different ways and helps us become more sensitive to their experiences. DNA testing can finally give you a context to ponder your identity and that of others more deeply.
Photo by Marco Verch from Flickr Creative Commons.