The American version was the work of producers Sarah Jessica Parker and Lisa Kudrow.
An African American firm that specializes in DNA-based genetic research participated in the television series enabling Emmitt Smith, the football player and “Dancing with the Stars” contestant to trace his ancestry. Using DNA, AfricanAncestry.com was able to determine Smith’s family origins in a present day country on the continent of Africa.
Gina Paige is vice president and co-founder for AfricanAncestry.com and was my guest via telephone interview on “Conversations with Al McFarlane” on KFAI FM90.3.
Al McFarlane: Like most other African Americans I have always yearned to know more about my past. The middle passage and enslavement destroyed a certain amount of knowledge of lineage. Now you all are able to use science and technology to reconnect the links that were severed?
Gina Paige: Absolutely. We actually are the pioneers of using this technology to bridge the gap for Black Americans telling them where their ancestry was before the middle passage. We can use genealogy tools, you know, census records and marriage records and even family stories. But that’s only going to take us back so far because we weren’t even recorded as people until the 1870s. So we are using the advances in technology to look at DNA that you have inherited only from your mother or DNA that you have inherited only from your father and then finding that same DNA somewhere else in the world. When we find it on the continent of Africa, we are able to connect you to the people living on the continent today
Al McFarlane: So it really is an exciting time for us as Black people because we can now reconnect to our roots.
Gina Paige: We sell test kits and the test kits are very simple and easy. They include swabs that are like long Q-tips and you simply rub inside of your cheek to collect the DNA. We have all seen this now on CSI and law and order, it is very familiar and then you return those swabs to us in confidential packaging. Our labs then extract the DNA and “unlock the code” if you will. Co-founder Dr. Rick Kiddle, a geneticist who is an African-American, does an analysis looking for your DNA within our database. Our African lineage database contains over 25,000 indigenous African lineages. We find matches of your DNA in our database then we find people that you share ancestry with. We can do that for your maternal line mother to mother to mother all the way back anywhere from 500 to 10,000 years. We can also do it for paternal line father to father to father all the way back for the same time period. It really is exciting because people react in so many different ways.
Generally they are overwhelmed, because, as you mentioned, this is information that we never thought we had. And so there is an overwhelming feeling and then there is a feeling of excitement, of empowerment, of transformation because now we have something we can add to our identity. We have something that adds to our sense of self in a very positive way.
For further information go to: africanancestory.com or call (877) 397-6687.