Thursday, August 14, 2014

I'm North African!

I've been doing a lot of research about genealogies and DNA lately while working with Paul Wittenberger on a new documentary film "Marching to Zion," so I decided to get my DNA checked for ethnicity. In the past, when I had studied my genealogy, the only nationalities I had ever been able to come up with were English, Irish, Swedish, Danish, and Swiss, as I reported in a previous blog post. The results of my DNA testing, which are reported to be 99.99% accurate, showed how little I know about my ancestry, even having done a lot of research. Many people think they know exactly what nationality they are, but things are much more complicated than that. I thought of myself as being 100% white European, but it turns out that more than anything, I am ethnically a Moroccan Berber from Northwest Africa and a Spaniard!

Why do we know so little about our ancestry? First of all, just because a person is from a certain country or has a certain last name, that doesn't mean that they have that ethnicity. For example, just because your ancestors are from England, that doesn't mean they are Anglo-Saxons. Spain and England are very close together, and most Spanish people are white, so people from Spain could easily end up in England and vice-versa. The reason we think of Hispanic people as being brown is that we are thinking of Mexicans who are a mixture of Spanish and American Indian. Also, Morocco is very close to Spain, and all of these countries were very heavily involved in sea trade, which would involve a lot of people moving back and forth from place to place.

Not only that, but looking at your family tree does not take things like adoption and adultery into account. How in the world could you know if your ancestors from 200 years ago were adopted or were the product of an adulterous affair by your great great great great great great grandmother? Stranger things have happened.

My DNA was tested against 400 people groups, and I was given a list of the top 50 matches in order of prominence. The reason that certain people groups are repeated (for example, I am a Moroccan Berber 7 different ways) is that there are different subgroups within each ethnicity, and I had genetic ties with various types of Moroccan Berbers. Not only was Moroccan Berber listed 7 times in my results, 5 of them were in my top 10!

My #2 most prominent ethnicity came out as Spanish. Not only that, but Spanish was repeated a total of 7 times. Polish showed up a little lower on the list (#5) but was repeated 8 times. 9 of my ethnicities are simply labeled as "white," meaning a homogenous mixture of white people from the U.S. and Canada (this would encompass a lot of English, Irish, Swedish, Danish, etc., basically, everything I thought I was!). Some of the other things on the list that were interesting are Romani (Gypsy), Arab (I'm a son of Ishmael! haha No wonder I defended him in a sermon recently!), Egyptian, Native American, etc.

Once you learn about this, it become silly to be so hung up about "race." We are all mixed! I guess I can start calling myself an "African American" now! The Bible was right when it said that all nations are of one blood. If anyone hasn't heard it already, I would strongly recommend my recent sermon that proved that all of us are direct descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, one way or another.

Here is the full listing of my results followed by my "Certificate of Ethnicity:"

1. Moroccan Berbers
2. Iberian Peninsula - Andalusian Spanish
3. Moroccan Berbers
4. Romani - Presov, Slovak Republic
5. Polish - Northern
6. Polish - Podlasie
7. Spanish - Balearic Islands
8. Moroccan Berbers
9. North African - Maghreb
10. Arab - Moroccan
11. Polish - Podlasie
12. White - U.S.
13. Belgian - Flemish
14. Spanish - Majorcan
15. White - Canadian
16. Spanish - Valencian
17. Moroccan Berber - Asni
18. Russia - Pskov
19. Egptian Copts - Adaima
20. Belarusian - Northeastern Poland
21. Portuguese - Azores
22. Portuguese - White
23. Bosnian
24. White - Canadian
25. White - North Carolina
26. Slovenian
27. Polish
28. Polish
29. White - Swiss
30. Serbian - Serbia/Vojvodina/Montenegro
31. White - U.S.
32. White - Virginia
33. Belgian - Flanders (Dutch)
34. Serbian
35. Polish - Central
36. Spanish - Andalusian
37. Polish
38. White - Virginia
39. Brazilian - Sao Paolo
40. White - California
41. Polish - Southeastern
42. Slovac - Presov
43. Spanish - Canary Islands
44. Spanish - Minorcan
45. Native American - Michigan
46. Moroccan Berber - Bouhria
47. Portuguese - Northern
48. Portuguese - Azores Archipelago
49. Belarusian
50. Portuguese - Northern

In case anyone is interested, the company that tested my DNA is at


Eric Ennis said...

Anonymous said...

I knew you were part Ishmaelite/wild man. You're more black than Barack Obama.

Anonymous said...

Awesome, I want to check mine out!