Well, there it is.
My ancestral painting as reflected by the DNA company 23AndMe.com It is an image reflecting a geographic and ethnic source from which my 23 chromosomes are from.
The green segments reflect African sources, the blue segments reflect European and the orange segments reflect Asian/Native American. (Note---since DNA companies do not distinguish Asian DNA markers from Native American markers it should be understood that the "Asian" in my case is most likely Native, especially in light of my documented ties to the Choctaw Nation.)
Geographic Origin of my DNA markers
When asked about how I feel about having the non-African markers----well I feel the same way I have always felt---like me!
The European markers I knew were there and the Native (or Asian) markers I knew were also there--but I could have never said how much, and of course none of this provides names that would tell the stories that I want to hear.
I have tested with DNA companies before---African Ancestry, FamilyTreeDNA and the National Genographic Project. I am fully aware of the ties to Nigeria on one line and to the ties to Guinea Bissau on another line. I am thrilled to know so much of this.
Yet does this knowledge change me or my feelings about my ancestry? Does this knowledge affect the way I review myself having non-African ancestry? Is there any closer sense of ties to the non-African side? Understanding that 30% of the markers that I have come from a non-African source is there a new feeling or an enlightened feeling about the past?
Actually, the non-African lines have been understood all along. As a descendant of many people who were enslaved and as a descendant of women who were mixed who also had children that were fathered by men who were not of African ancestry is information that was known ahead of time and that has been documented, as well.
And the reality of slavery as it occurred in America, is what it is. It happened, and many families have histories similar to mine and have ancestors who have a similar past.
Now this information does confirm the likelihood that there were more than one, two or perhaps even three lines from whom these non-African lines come.
But I already knew of two of these lines from my own documentation. Does this ancestral painting mean that there are more? Perhaps so. And it makes the genealogical process more complex, no question.
But from a culturally and experiential perspective, I come form my mid 20th century life and experience, from an African American cultural context into which I was born and in which I live. I married into a family from Ghana and Nigeria, which makes my own life stories fascinating and richly seasoned with wonderful experiences.
All of the other lines--the documented Choctaw gr. gr. grandmother, Sallie and her mother who was enslaved in the same Choctaw Nation community are as much of my history as my gr. gr. grandfather Patrick Drennan of Van Buren Arkansas, and his white father. And they are as much of my history as my slave ancestor Martha, born in the 1790s in Virginia, to an unknown African slave woman. All of them are mine,
And yes, this includes the Choctaw slave owner, the white slave owner, both of whom are also 3rd gr. grandfathers. Like the many Africans who are part of my ancestral cirle--they all are part of who I am. And I face the world with a proud African American imprint from my life imprinted and put upon my by two wonderful and loving parents---and it is their strength and guidance with which I face the world.
Now having this ancestral painting to ad to my knowledge of self is a good thing. And yes, I might wonder as glance at my gr.grandmother, if I see her African mother or her Choctaw father. I look at my mother's image and wonder, if I am seeing an ancestral Fulani/Yoruba smile from the old photos, or is there another ancestor from another line smiling through? And other ancestors do make me wonder if there is some trait from the European ancestor as well showing through. Does it change who I am inside and who I am as a person? No.
I am glad to know just a little bit more through this ancestral painting, and now with that information,
I can say that it is all good.
It is who I am.