Blacks and DNA Testing
"In his Oct 31 New York Times editorial, “Why Race Isn’t as ‘Black’ and ‘White’ as We Think", Brent Staples reveals that he recently traced his ancestral origins through a genetic screening performed by DNAPrint Genomics and was “knocked off my chair” to find that one-fifth of his ancestry is Asian. Tracing one’s lineage is one of the most popular hobbies in the United States and African Americans are increasingly using commercially available technologies to determine their ancestry and genealogy. But there’s a new twist -- a growing segment of this business is devoted to genetic information about racial heritage. It seems that many African Americans see their genetic lineage as key to their racial identity. I’ve made it clear in my past postings that I don’t regard my genetic makeup as critical to my identity. But I’m intrigued that so many of my brothers and sisters do and am struggling to place the popularity of these technologies in the context of what I see as an ominous resurgence of biological definitions of race. (By the way, Patricia Williams gave a brilliant lecture at Northwestern last night and she, too, tied the growing interest in race-based biotechnology and biomedicine to increased racial profiling and restrictions on civil liberties, which she cast as a denial of the presumption of innocence."