DNA Test: Ancestral Healing

“Where are your people from?” That’s the number one identity question people of African descent in the United States have been grappling with for the past 400 years, thanks to the Atlantic slave trade where millions of Africans were uprooted from their communities and transported across the Atlantic Ocean to be sold as property and used as free labor by White slave owners in the US.

Having an understanding of one’s cultural identity is important because it can help build personal growth and well being, and help to connect people with one another. It can also build self-awareness and pride, which are an essential part of empowering communities to take charge of their own destinies. On the other hand, a lack of cultural identity leads to a loss of direction, a sense of self and not feeling like you belong.

As a Person of Color, I have also grappled with that question of identity and loss of direction when it comes to my paternal side of the family - I am biracial and know that my mother’s maiden name is Windau and the family’s lineage can be traced back to Germany. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for my Black father’s last name, Dickerson, so I can’t fully answer the question, “Where are your people from?”

While most European emigrants that came over to the US during the Industrial Revolution can answer that question, most African Americans cannot because of the history of slavery. Africans were stripped of their culture, language, religion and traditions during slavery, and up until today there have been no reparations given to the descendants of slaves in the United States.

I would like to resolve my struggle with cultural identity on my paternal side of the family in order to begin constructing my individual and collective biography. I want to be able to answer that age old question that’s steeping in White Privilege. I want particular questions to be answered and personal and familial narratives to be completed. I am in the meaningful pursuit of being able to piece together my family history, so that I may begin to heal and reconcile the history of slavery.

However, I don’t think I should be responsible for having to pay for an ancestral answer that is mired in the demeaning, brutal, and destructive institution of American slavery.

On this second day of Black History Month, 2018, I am asking those who largely benefit from White Privilege to fund my ancestry test from http://africanancestry.com/home/

I will keep funders updated on the stages of my cultural recovery, posting photos when I purchase and receive the kit.

I will also publicly announce the test results on social media after I receive them in about 6-8 weeks after I send in the saliva test. 

If anyone would like a history lesson on why reparations is necessary and why the the average Black family would need 228 years to build the wealth of a White family in United States, please read Ta-Nehesi Coates’ essay on the “Case for Reparations” https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/

Thank you for your support.


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Jessico Dickerson 
Chicago, IL
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