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Past is Past


To some, knowing their heritage is of paramount importance. The countries their ancestors came from is knowledge that simply must be known. For those like Alice Collins Plebuch, learning that their ancestry has a different narrative than they'd previously assumed is earth-shattering. Heck, they've written an article about it. Me? I'm a mutt, and that's fine.

I read the piece about Plebuch's world being turned upside down by her DNA results, so of course I have some interest in all this. I guess it just doesn't matter to me all that much where my genetic predecessors came from. Evolutionary science is of interest, but not recent ancestry, such as where my great-great-great-grandparents were from. And, if I did find out such information, I would like to think it wouldn't upset me like it did Plebuch:
About half of Plebuch’s DNA results presented the mixed British Isles bloodline she expected. The other half picked up an unexpected combination of European Jewish, Middle Eastern and Eastern European. Surely someone in the lab had messed up. It was the early days of direct-to-consumer DNA testing, and Ancestry.com’s test was new. She wrote the company a nasty letter informing them they’d made a mistake.
Perhaps some people desire a more pure-blooded approach to who they are? Of course, many people would not admit to such thoughts. It isn't considered part of our enlightened society to overtly wish to be from one predominant blood line. Why, then, would someone like Plebuch react so angrily to being told that one-half of her genetic make-up is of an ancestry she wasn't aware of? Furthermore, it begs the question: Why even take an ancestry DNA test to begin with? If one is so certain of their heritage, then what's the point?

Coming from an immediate mixed-race background (white mother, black father), and knowing the grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. from both sides of the family, I never really had an identity tied to ethnicity. Or if I did, it was an acknowledged one of multiple origins. My paternal great-grandmother was part-Native American. My maternal great-grandmother immigrated to the U.S. from Hungary, circa 1905. I dunno. All of that means I'm a mutt. Most of us are mutts. That's good enough for me.

Of course I understand how, for certain people, ancestry can be vitally important for health reasons. No one's begrudging them that knowledge. And, who knows, some day I might spit in a vial and send it off for some DNA results? But I hope that if some left-field information comes back about some distant origins, I'll take it with a 'How 'bout that?!' attitude rather than one of 'What the f**k?'. After all, where we come from isn't nearly as important as where we're going.



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