What are you? This question has followed me for my entire life. At times, I have been deconstructed by classmates or even people in passing. Most of the time, people are just curious.
I’ve always felt like an anomaly of sorts. My mother is a dark skinned Afro-Latina, with roots from the Bahamas and Honduras, while my father is a Puerto Rican who can often be mistaken for the kid from A Bronx Tale or Robert DeNiro, thanks to his thick New York accent. The product was a golden brown baby with huge black eyes and thick curls, who could easily be a United Colors of Benetton kiddie model from anywhere.
Along with a handful of my fellow Latina staffers, I had my DNA tested with Ancestry.com. Finally, I could find out the answer to that ever-present question. I had some theories. Being Latina, I knew that my origins would most likely find me a child of Africa, Europe, and Native America. But as a New Yorker, I never really think much about my indigenous roots (although an incredible trip to the ancient pueblos of Arizona piqued my interest). As a light-skinned Afro Latina, bred on prep school and Green Day, I’ve always found myself having to remind folks of my pride in my Blackness. But yet and still, my Black card was always limited. I’ve also been told that I’m 75% Latina, and should identify solely as such. That never really sat well with me considering the African American women who raised me.
Growing up in New York, I was always surrounded by many different cultures, and since I was always a bit hard to place, I found myself being adopted by many nationalities. I’ve been considered Indian and Brazilian, and I embrace it all. Who wouldn’t want to represent such beautiful cultures? I’m all in.
What am I? The results are in. My ancestry is a beautiful rich mix and I couldn’t be more proud to represent every country: 54% African (mostly from Benin/Togo, and Cameroon/Congo), 29% European (Spain, Portugal, and Scandinavia), and 5% Asian (mostly from the Middle East). The mixed kid is really mixed!
The Latina staff was able to speak with Ancestry expert Anna Swayne about our results, and she shared some pretty special insight about mine. I am one of the few people tested to have DNA from every African region tested by Ancestry. Swayne also shared that I am truly a map of the world, just like KT Tunstall sings — my DNA has representation from every part of the world.
And I’m totally claiming every bit of it. I’m a child of Africa, my super dark eyes reflect my Spanish ancestry, and my long dark hair nods to my Native American origins. My Saudi Arabian roots confirm what I’ve known all along: I’m the real life Princess Jasmine.
My family has always been very open and receptive about race and culture, and they were ecstatic about my results. From a young age, I’ve been taught to raise every flag I represent high and to also represent it proudly. I’m excited to build my family tree on Ancestry, as well as look up my grandparents and relatives on the 1940 census. I’m a journalist first and foremost, so I love to put together pieces of a puzzle to tell an amazing story. The best part about it: I get to tell my own.
If you missed our FB Live, you can still watch it all here!