Flesh and blood
BY ARTHUR ALLEN (05/12/00)
I read the article by Arthur Allen on using DNA to trace roots.
He quoted me at the end of his story. I challenge the theme that flowed
through the story, that for individual African-Americans to learn some
specific information about their past is somehow trivial.
To repeat a statement I made to Allen, which he did not quote: If you're
a Native American you know the tribe. If you're a European- or
Asian-American, your last name at least gives you a clue. But if you're an
African-American, all you know is that you come from somewhere on the vast
continent of Africa. It's like being an adopted child and wondering who
your real parents are.
No, I would not bet my life on the DNA results from Rick Kittles being
absolutely accurate. But to the extent that I can learn about my African
heritage from a source with a reasonable probability of accuracy, then I am
happy to know it.
And one thing I did not see in Allen's article was any allegation by
Michael Blakey or Fatimah Jackson that Kittles was giving people fraudulent
results. Rather, Jackson complains about the fee Kittles proposes saying
that it buys you "only one sequence of one stretch of DNA," which, she
says, is about as meaningful as reading only three pages of "War and Peace."
Thank God for the three pages.
-- Sam Ford