What I’ve learned from my exploration about finding out where my origins trace from, I learned that 95 percent of my genetics can be traced back all over West Africa, with a huge influence from, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Ghana. My test results from Ancestry DNA said that 5 percent of my origins is derived from Europe. I had mentioned earlier in the very beginning of my investigation that my mom was a native of Virginia until her family migrated to California for better opportunities. Finding out that 5 percent of my ancestry can be traced back to Europe was mind blowing, because my family always told me that my siblings and I are a quarter Puerto Rican, which to my surprise is non-existent in my family. This would make sense that a small percentage of my DNA is linked to Europe because, I learned that most African-Americans in Virginia and the deep South in this specific genetic community who are able to trace their ancestry back to West Africa, were enslaved and brought back to Virginia to work on the Tobacco farms. The enslavement and rape of Africans in the 1800s paved a way for crossbreeding. Consequently, this led to a blending of races.
My last name is Bailey, which is an occupational surname of English origin. Bailey is the 58th most common surname in England and is commonly found in Jamaica. It is to my knowledge that in the 1800s slaves would take the last name of the slave owner. My best guess for this practice is that, because upon emancipation, free slaves found themselves having to choose surnames since they’d most often never had any before. It was not uncommon to choose the surname of their owner as well as public or historical figures, another plausible reason for this practice was to maintain order, slave owners would pass down their last name to slaves, so that they were able to keep a chronicle record of detained slaves. Most slave owners assigned names to most of their slaves which consisted of no more than the first name. I firmly believe that in my family’s case we were given our last name by a slave owner.
For the most part, I wasn’t surprised all that much by my Ancestry DNA results. It clarified and answered some questions that have lingered in the back of my mind for many years. Unfortunately, many specifics about my ancestry are unknown, because record keeping for African-Americans before the civil war was limited, which is why I know or have very little knowledge about my family’s history, because of the limited amount of information that was recorded.
I was amazed at how many people in class are connected to one another. It came to my surprise that almost everyone in my class had some European ancestry after partaking in a class activity during class, I recall doing a specific exercise in class where my professor Jon Funabiki had the entire class raise their hands if they identified with one of the nationalities on screen. It was fascinating to see how individuals who are deemed to have similar ethnic backgrounds were the least similar in terms of ratio amongst various ethnicities. My peers and I are connected not only because we share some similarities of lineage, but because, most us in class are all in the same boat in terms of trying to find out exactly where we come from and trying to answer those myths that were told to us by our parents and grandparents.