More research: DNA testing and race

Than you so much for all the excellent liar info yesterday. I’m now halfway through Paul Ekman’s Emotions Revealed: Recognising Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life and finding it extraordinarily useful. Thanks to Gwenda Bond, Jenny Davidson and Malcolm Tredinnick for suggesting him. I’ll be chasing down all the other leads as well. You are all the best research assistants ever!

Since you were all so amazingly helpful on yesterday’s research question I have another:

Last year (I think) I read at least two articles about DNA testing being used in a classroom (or possibly classrooms) in California (but I may have the state wrong) to demonstrate that no one is racially “pure” and, indeed, to promote discussion about what race even is. The test gives the percentage of your DNA that comes from Africa, Europe, Asia or Native America. And many people get results they’re not expecting. The correlation between your skin colour and your DNA is not straightforward.

I have googled any number of combinations and have found articles on DNA testing and race. Even on DNA testing being taught in the classroom, but not on DNA tests being used to talk about race in the classroom.

If any of you can help with this I will be eternally grateful.


  1. Megan on #

    Was it the “DNA Test Gives Students Ethnic Shocks” article on this page?

  2. Malcolm Tredinnick on #

    Oh, I have to go first again?! 🙁

    I think the articles you might be remembering were tests conducted a couple of years in a row at Penn State University (as part of a Racial Relations class). At least, that was my memory of them and a quick Google around shows up a few dozen popular press articles on this, although I didn’t look long enough to find anything academic.

  3. Justine on #

    Megan & Malcolm: I’m pretty sure the Penn State test is not what I’m remembering. The one thing I’m positive about is that it was a high school classroom, not a university.

  4. dragonfly on #

    you are doing very interesting research. you’ve got me curious!

    i don’t know anything about this dna testing and race stuff, but i’d love to hear more.

    this is totally random, but because you’re the (first) one who got me interested in this book…i got a copy of skin hunger today!!! i’m in the middle of another book, and then there will be the two sequels to read after that…but i’ll be reading it soon. i can’t wait!!

  5. Justine on #

    Dragonfly: Is serkrit. Top sekrit. But you’ll be able to read it September 2009. Unless I change my mind . . .

    Enjoy Skin Hunger!

  6. dragonfly on #

    justine: i see you learned how to spell from mj. or did she learn from you?? 😉

    september 2009. for my birthday! (oh my socks, i’ll be over 30.)

  7. Justine on #

    That spelling of secret pre-dates either one of us using it. I’m even pretty sure that spelling pre-dates LOLcats.

    But, it is very likely she stole it from me. Since she has a tendency to do that. A lot.

  8. Lisa Yee on #

    Hmmm . . . I’m in California and haven’t heard about it in classrooms. However, l gave my husband a DNA test for his birthday last year. I got it from National Geographic online. They’re amassing a huge data base.

    Like most, my white husband roots are in Africa.

  9. Justine on #

    What were his percentages?

  10. Camille on #

    Where on earth do you go to get your DNA tested?

    (This preview-as-you-type feature is the best stuff on earth. :-D)

  11. Lisa Yee on #

    Camille, here’s where I got my husband’s DNA kit . . .

    It’s a really easy test to take. And then you mail it in and they send you the results.

    Justine, I’ll ask him where he’s put the results and try to find out the percents.

  12. Hillary! on #

    I wanted one of those DNA testing things for my 16th B-Day, but my parents thought it was too expensive.
    I go to school in California, and I haven’t heard about that either, albeit, my school is quite crappy and poor.

  13. Stephanie on #

    In my race and racism class in college we watched a film that showed high school students doing an experiment like that. Basically they discovered that a kid from Mexico’s closest genetic match was from Poland (arbitrary examples though). I don’t remember what the film was called, but it looked relatively old.

    And I want to say that it sounds like something David Suzuki would have covered on The Nature of Things, but I might be wrong about that.

  14. claire on #

    hey justine, i hadn’t heard about this either, but the ladeez at racialicious would know if anyone would.

  15. Moose-la on #

    well, in my science class the teacher paid for three randomly selected kids to have their DNA tested and anylyzed (the test kits are not cheap) but we’re using the data to learn about DNA not race.

  16. eek on #

    Hey, Justine, pretty sure this isn’t what you remembered, because it’s recent, but here is a link to an article about a project at a St. Louis school:

    “As the results of the school’s “Discover Your Roots” project began to trickle in earlier this month, the 40 students and teachers participating in the human genome program began comparing notes the moment the school’s computers spit out the results of their DNA tests.”

    Hope that helps, even if it wasn’t what you were looking for…


  17. Lisa Yee on #

    Justine, sadly my Hubby can’t find his DNA test information. However, I can recall that he’s part European, part African, and part martian.

  18. Shannon on #

    i’m not good at linking to stuff, but i went to google and put DNA+Race…and a bunch of stuff came up.

Comments are closed.