Monday, September 14, 2009

Haplogroups and Race

Each Haplogroup is associated with a geographic origin and therefore an ethnic identity, or more accurately a biological race. For a full treatment of the origins of each haplogroup, see this article at Wikipedia:

However, here are some of the particulars[1]. Most of our Taylor project are representative of the R1b and R1a that are western European:

R1b Western Europe

R1a Eastern Europe

I Nordic

J2 Semitic

E3b Semitic

Q3 Native American

It is important to point out that racial identity in the United States, at least in the year 2009, is a cultural matter. People identify with their culture of origin. They do not have a DNA test to determine their major ethnic identity. For that reason, a person who self-identifies as African-American may test and find he is of the Western European haplogroup. Similarly, a person may identify as a white American and discover his y-DNA is linked to an African haplogroup.

Because of this, some possible participants may not want to be tested, fearing the results. These fears may be unrevealed, even to the self. And even today, people do make value judgments according to racial profiling. So, let us address some possible issues.

Outside of this project, no one will know your haplogroup, unless you share it. Closely related people who test and share results with you probably have the same haplogroup.

Second, your haplogroup may or may not coincide with your ethnic identity as you have lived your life. This may be reassuring, or not. Your ethnic identity is a complex mixture of family, local, religious, regional and biological factors. Two people in relatively similar circumstances may self-identify as different ethnic groups.

Finally, speaking to the Black/White issue which is a hot button for Americans, having a haplogroup which does not match your sense of ethnic identity does not necessarily mean that your female ancestor was raped by a member of the other group. This is a reoccurring explanation for why a haplogroup does not match a perceived cultural identity. It presupposes that no ancestor had consensual sex with another ethnic group. It would be reasonable and fair to assume that some mixtures of different genetic lines were desired by both parties.

Until next time,


[1] See Wikipedia noted above for a more complete list.

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