When endless YouTubers first started going on about ancestry DNA kits, I was at least a little cynical. It seemed almost gratuitous. They weren’t learning anything life-changing, for the most part. And those who found joy in the tiny percentage of Native American or African in their DNA seemed like they were engaging in little more than cultural appropriation.
However, my views have changed since then, mostly because I tried one myself and it turns out there really is something to it. I’m not going to say it changed my life, but I did learn a lot about myself and my heritage, and I’m better off for it.
If you’re skeptical, these are the reasons you should consider trying an ancestry DNA test kit.
Let go of cultural biases
The characters in the musical Avenue Q sing the refrain, “Everyone’s a little bit racist, sometimes.” It’s all too easy to feel like this doesn’t apply to you. I used to believe I was as woke as they came, and that I judged people solely by their character. Turns out, I was wrong.
When I got my test results back, there were a few surprises. Mostly, I’m Eastern European, as I already knew. But the small percentages of other cultures, made me realize how much the word “other” meant to me.
It’s not that I had an overtly prejudiced reaction to the news. However, I did start questioning whether certain features could be seen in my face, and whether I exhibited certain traits. And I was shocked at how naturally those questions came to me. The thing is, as long as someone is an other, it is mostly easy to accept them. But that doesn’t mean you actually accept them completely. If part of you still believes, “at least that’s not me,” then you still have a way to go.
My DNA test kit results didn’t “cure” me of my internal biases. It is impossible not to have a few. However, it did force me to become aware of them and confront them. And that makes the results more than worth it.
But the benefits didn’t end there. I used Ancestry.com, and they have a massive database of over 7 million people. I knew I might find some relatives, although I didn’t think it would matter. I have relatives I’ve known about all my life who I don’t talk to.
Yet, when Ancestry.com connected me with some close cousins I never knew about, I was intrigued. There’s something thrilling about meeting cousins when you’re a little older. They’re not people you’ve known all your life and taken for granted. I was excited to meet these cousins and wondered if we’d have anything in common.
And we did! It was interesting to discuss relatives we shared and somehow both knew, but it was even more exciting getting to choose whether to let these cousins into my life. They say you don’t choose your family, but in some cases, you can.
There are many more reasons to try ancestry DNA kits, especially if your ancestry isn’t as straightforward as mine. But even if you think you know exactly where you come from, there’s a lot you can learn.