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Genetics Testing: Celebrities With Native American DNA Reveal America's Complex Race History
DNA TESTS are proving that Native American ancestry runs deep through the genetic bloodlines of celebrities we previously thought of plain old black, white or Hispanic. By Ben Arogundade. [Mar.10.2016]
“DNA IS THE NEW BLACK,” proclaimed British 'Vogue's' March 2015 edition. A genetic procedure that, a little over ten years ago would have cost tens of thousands of dollars, and taken months to glean the results, now it costs barely $150, and the results are ready in days, if not hours. DNA ancestry testing has sparked a global revolution in which people feel compelled to know the secrets of their DNA ancestry. The results are challenging our long held beliefs about race and identity.
GENETICS: THE 4 GROUPS
One of the fundamental things that DNA ancestry testing tell us is that all humans are composed of a combination of just four ethnic groups — sub-Saharan African, European, East Asian and Native American. Therefore, most people who call themselves, say, black, white or Asian, are probably actually a mix of more than one ethnicity.
For example — according to research carried out by 23andMe, a leading DNA testing organization — in the United States, the average African American genome is almost 25 per cent European, while nearly 4 per cent of European Americans possess African ancestry. Latinos, on average, have about 70 percent European ancestry, 14 percent Native American ancestry and 6 percent African ancestry.
NATIVE AMERICAN DNA TEST & GENETICS
These days, many of those who submit to ancestry testing are excited at the prospect of possessing Native American DNA. This ethnic group, once reviled and victimised throughout a painful chapter in American history, has now become desirable, with people proudly claiming their Cherokee or Blackfoot ancestry.
When Henry Louis Gates Jr, author and presenter of ancestry DNA testing TV show, African American Lives, received his own DNA test results — 48.5 per cent sub-Saharan African, 50.5 per cent European, and 0.5 per cent Native American — his relatives were surprised and disappointed at the low percentage of Native American DNA, as they had believed, with much pride, that one of their great-grandmothers was Native American.
AFRICAN NATIVE AMERICAN CELEBRITIES DNA
In fact, contrary to what many believe, the average amount of Native American DNA within African Americans is only 0.8 per cent. However, there are some black celebrities with enviably high percentages of Native American DNA. Television star Oprah Winfrey for example, possesses 8 per cent (plus 89 per cent African and 3 per cent East Asian ancestry); Meanwhile, Hollywood actor Chris Tucker, star of the films Rush Hour and Silver Linings Playbook, has 10 per cent Native American DNA, and recording artist Snoop Dogg has 23 per cent. Other celebrities who have taken ancestry DNA tests also show varying volumes of Native American DNA. Kim and Khloe Kardashian have 6 per cent, actress Jessica Alba has 10 per cent and comedian Larry David has 37 per cent. The late Marcheline Bertrand, mother of actress Angelina Jolie, also claimed Native American (Iroquois) heritage, although she did not take an ancestry DNA test
WHAT IS NATIVE AMERICAN, BLACK, WHITE?
Of course, it takes more than a DNA ancestry test to make someone Native American, African or European. What matters more is the individual's lived experience. But, ancestry DNA tests are useful in proving that the racial definitions humans have cultivated and lived by for centuries — and also based their prejudices on — are all wrong, and that most of all, like it or not, we are all one huge interconnected “mixed race” family.
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NATIVE AMERICAN MIX: Hollywood actress Jessica Alba and TV personality Kim Kardashian West both possess Native American DNA — 10 per cent and six per cent respectively.
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AFRICAN AMERICAN NATIVE AMERICAN: African American celebrities Snoop Dogg and Hollywood actor Chris Tucker have both had DNA tests that reveal higher than average percentages of Native American ancestry.
CELEBRITIES WITH NATIVE AMERICAN DNA ANCESTRY
KIM KARDASHIAN — 6 per cent
OPRAH WINFREY — 8 per cent
JESSICA ALBA — 10 per cent
CHRIS TUCKER — 10 per cent
SNOOP DOGG — 23 per cent
LARRY DAVID — 37 per cent