I thought it was a tad timely that, in the days preceding this week’s Rachel Dolezwal dust-up, I received an email from the Ancestry DNA site last Sunday with news that my DNA’s racial profile was now available (by virtue of my mother who has been steeped in re-creating/re-conjuring a family tree over the past year).
I’ve often wondered what my racial background entailed.
It’s been a while since I rose above the common illusion, especially among Mexicans themselves, that “Mexican” is anything close to a “race.” All the junior college Aztec warriors in Los Angeles are merely idolizing the Amerindian facet of their history at the expense of everything else, but worse, they ignorantly refuse to accept this fact.
I had a teacher in high school (who was Mexican himself) who would tell us, with a razor-sharp realistic irony, that Mexicans were the “bastard” race. I’m sure he was greeted with 30 blank stares in response, but he persisted in pounding this fact into our uninterested skulls over and over. It wasn’t until I was much older that I appreciated what he was trying to convey. There is no Mexican race any more than there is a United States race. In fact, the racial diversity of the Mexican people is quite vast compared to that of the United States, which touts itself as the melting pot.
It wasn’t until DNA testing became affordable and accessible that such “tools” can now be wielded by the layman. Ancestry’s report is geared to the layman, and I’m the ultimate genetic layman. I wouldn’t know what to do with genotypic detail if it fell in my lap. Ancestry does offer the ability to download your raw DNA data if you wish. I probably will do this and use it to engage in some internet “research” but I doubt much of that will be any real use to me. Instead, I defaulted to Ancestry’s summaries and algorithms in order to glimpse my genetic, global history.
I can’t say I was surprised by any of it other than the fact that I seem to possess a little more of the Italian/Greek line than I ever thought.
When all is said and done, I’m the perfect little mestizo! Half Amerindian, half European, with a smattering of strange bizarre shitty admixture from other places.
Being Mexican, and by extension, Spanish, I expected some North African; I was still a little surprised that Senegal outpaces even North Africa in my profile. Perhaps some Catholic missionaries are represented in that little brew. I’m Black…take that, Rachel Dolezal!
The Finland/Ireland/Scandinavia axis surprises me a little, but as my brother joked, this probably denotes some Viking invaders knocking up squaws in our distant history. I also commented that the Indian and Irish lines might explain my historic indulgence in the bottle.
We did have a good laugh at the Native American figure. My father wondered aloud if this was enough to get me into a tribe’s good graces, and maybe some of that healthy Indian casino profit.
Not that anyone would ever use convenient racialism in order to individually prosper, right?
See, I’m defined by my physiological measurements and data. My molecular make-up is indisputable. These are the “raw,” rudimentary building blocks of my body. How I define myself has absolutely nothing to do with it, and all my defining in the world does not make it real. I can defer to any of those global regions and assign myself its stereotypical qualities, and presto, I’ve changed my self-definition. Since genotype can prove quite invisible, who would think to question? I knew a guy whose father was Mexican and mother, White. He looked completely Mexican. Our self-defined sense of race is capricious and subject to agendas, but has nothing to do with the materials that were handed us from our ancestors. Just because you can say you are anything in the world does not make you that.
And if we base our society and its structural antecedents to be based on our own personal, nebulous fancies, society will fluctuate on a whim.
And judging from what I see in the news, that is exactly where we are headed. A world where feminism finally reigns: where you draw the bullseye around the arrow of science.