During the 2016 election season, Chavez observed herself on the receiving end of xenophobic and racist commentaries.
“It is really hard to talk about race. It’s really difficult, ” she says. “People feel uneasy, but that feeling is what makes progress.”
As she puts it: “Are you 100% everything? No, you’re not, and there’s no such thing as a superior race because, basically, we all have DNA from the entire world.”
Chavez’s test revealed that she’s 59% Native American, 27% European, 2% African, and 3% West Asian.
Chavez worked with AncestryDNA to procure tests for her coworkers, and then the women got together at work to discuss their results. They broadcast the conversation in a Facebook Live video.
Many of Chavez’s coworkers felt empowered by their results too.
“I would definitely say I feel a lot more confident in who I am, knowing where I come from, ” tells Barbara Gonzalez, a former personnel writer at Latina.
It’s not always an easy process; sometimes find the results can be emotional and even scary. Chavez tells, “It is a deep profound, sentimental issue for some people, and I understand it. This is a big thing.”
But, she tells, it’s worth it. “It’s a beautiful thing to be determined who you are.”
With the help of her coworkers, Chavez employed her AncestryDNA outcomes to trigger important conversations about race and culture. And she’s inspiring others to do the same.
After the Facebook Live broadcast, she says she received numerous emails from people thanking her.
“When I started assuring the responses and the happiness behind every reply, ” tells Chavez, “I felt compelled to only continues its run that I’m doing.”
In 1838, Georgetown University sold 272 slaves to the country of Louisiana.
And Jeremy Alexander an executive assistant at Georgetown University is a direct descendant of one of them .
Alexander learned of his pedigree thanks to an AncestryDNA test that he took in 2014. It was an astonishing discovery and one that devoted him a clearer picture of his identity and, more importantly, the history of his family.
“It’s a good sense of intellect simply to be able to call their names, ” he tells. “To identify, to attain them human.”
What followed is a moving tale of self-discovery for Alexander, for the descendants of the 272, and for Georgetown. Check it out right here :
It all started when Alexander wanted to know just how far back his roots run.
Since 2008, Alexander and his wife, Leslie, started building their Ancestry family tree right after their son was born. They wanted to trace their family history back as far as they perhaps could in order to learn their lists of remote ancestors over multiple generations.
Alexander building his family tree on Ancestry.com.
He’d been curious about where he came from and would even ask his elders to tell him narratives about relatives he was never able to meet.
So it was no wonder that Alexander was ecstatic when he was finally able to take the AncestryDNA exam to dive deeper into his heritage. And Ancestry constructed it easy to connect with a family member Alexander had never met, who had some interesting information about her own tale that turned out to be part of his story as well.
“I received an email[ through Ancestry] from Melissa Kemp, my third cousin, that I was a descendant of the Georgetown 272 slaves that were sold back in 1838, ” he remembers. He was the descendant of Anna Mahoney, who later became Anna Mahoney Jones, a woman who, with her son Arnold and her sister Louisa, were transferred from Alexandria down to Louisiana in this sale.
The Katherine Jackson Ship manifest with Anna, Arnold, and Louisa Jones’ names on it. Ensure the purposes of this report, and the age of her son Arnold, had a profound impact on Alexander because his son was the same age Arnold was at that time. Image from National Repository and Record Administration, via Ancestry.com
“I couldn’t believe that she just told me this information. I had to tell her, I told, ‘You have to understand, Melissa, that I actually work for Georgetown University. That’s where you’re talking to me right now. I’m sitting here in my office.’ She was blown away.”
Soon after Alexander learned about his connection to Georgetown, the university also decided to finally make amends for its history of slavery and offered a formal apology.
“We hosted two major events, ” tells Marcia Chatelain, associate prof for the history department at Georgetown. “The first was to offer a formal apology to the descendants of the 272, and then we rededicated two buildings on Georgetown’s campus.”
It was a truly powerful event for Alexander and one that moved him to tears. No doubt the message that Georgetown delivered was one he’ll remember eternally.
“As we seek to more profoundly understand our narrative, ” said Georgetown president John J. DeGioia, “we too deepen our understanding of our shared American story.”
“We offer this apology for the sins against your ancestors.”
A deeper appreciation of our past can undoubtedly light the way toward a more unified future.
“It was so powerful, ” Alexander tells about the event. “It brought me to tears because I never expected to hear anyone apologize, to say they are sorry to me for their acts of slavery.”
“I look at that as a wonderful first step in terms of a healing process, ” he adds .
“When you really look at the whole event, ” he continues “and especially even the messages after that, everything was about, ‘Let’s get through this healing process together.’ “
Now, Alexander is looking to the future and hopeful that his son, Jesse, will grow up in a different world.
Unlocking the richness of his past has changed Alexander’s approach to fatherhood for the very best. Plus, with Georgetown setting a new tone for the future, he is less worried about the challenges Jesse might face.
“My son is really going to have a great sense of pride were told that he came from strong people, ” Alexander says. “All we can wishing is that he will do better in America. And that’s what we wish for Jesse, is to have that better opportunity.”
Make sure to visit: CapGeneration.com
What did you have for dinner last night?
Do you think your great-grandmother or great-great-grandmother feed the same thing for dinner? Opportunities are, “youre supposed to” haven’t dedicated much thought to why your snack is what it is or whether your great-grandparents ever feed the same thing.
But ever since he was a child, culinary historian Michael Twitty has was just thinking about these kinds of questions . So when Twitty became curious about his own ancestral roots, food was always going to be a part of his research journey.
When he blended these two passions culinary history and genealogy it resulted him on an incredible trip-up exploring the food and history of the old South, one that would change how he saw his family’s role in history and cultural activities eternally.
Twitty decided to embark on a journey to learn the truth about his heritage by taking an AncestryDNA test.
“For African-Americans, the desire to know what makes up your conglomerate blackness is deep, ” Twitty says.”It’s in every one of us, and we take that journey very seriously. We want to know who we are and where we come from … because of slavery.”
Not only did he want to know where his family received from but also whether some of the narratives passed down in his family were true including the narratives about his white ancestors, the people who had once held his family in bondage.
“We had an incredible oral history that told a lot of things about who we were, ” he tells, “and quite frankly, we couldn’t always demonstrate those things.”
For example, he had been told that his ancestor was a captain, and his family believed they knew his name and the story of how his great-great-great-grandmother was born, but there was no way to prove it , no birth certificate to name him as the father, because she was born a slave.
Twitty not only wanted answers, he wanted to understand what it was like to live his ancestors’ life. So, he embarked on a journey from Maryland to Texas and back again.
During that time, he immersed himself in old records, bills of marketing, and other historical documents on Ancestry.com.
He also visited restored plantations, farms, and battlefields.
He met with a 101 -year-old man who had lived through the Jim crow years, he spoke with Civil War re-enactors, and he spent a lot of time feeing and cooking alongside black, white, Native American, Latino, and Asian chefs to understand their role in the shape of southern history and cultural activities.
To better understand his ancestors experience, he picked cotton for 16 hours, primed tobacco, plucked Carolina rice, cut sugar cane, and sucked on red clay .~ ATAGEND
He promoted others in his family to take the tests too including his grandfather, an uncle, and his cousins and because his AncestryDNA outcomes allowed him to compare his DNA against a large population of others who had also taken the test, he was able to slowly piece together a a little clearer picture of who his family was, where they came from, and how they moved around the United States.
In fact, with the help of his AncestryDNA results and records from Ancestry.com, he was able to identify and name at least a dozen new ancestors, black and white, going back two centuries helping him prove that a lot of those old family narratives were, in fact, true.
“When you can actually take your genealogy your genetic genealogy and see that yes, indeed, you are a part of these historical practises, migrations, journeys. When history is a narrative all of the sudden, you’re real, ” Twitty tells. “You’re real in a way that a volume can’t tell you that you’re real.”
This trip-up also showed him how much his family’s narrative overlapped with the history of today’s “southern cuisine.”
Make sure to visit: CapGeneration.com