“We are the world,” says my casts.

I'm a product of the Colonial American Melting Pot and European Blender.
I’m a product of the Colonial American Melting Pot and the European Blender.

I don’t generally know what my casts are going to look like until I get into the meat of a book. The plots are like movies that play out in my mind, and when a new person comes on-screen, I’m seeing them for the first time.

Sometimes, I’m sort of unclear about what a character is, because maybe I don’t know myself. Ariel in A Demon in Waiting is described as having dark brown hair and pale brown eyes. That’s about it. You’d assume from that she’s just the typical white girl, but then I started A Demon in Love which features her sister, and Marion walked onto the page with a touch of the exotic about her. Like hell if I knew why. Still don’t, because…

Wait for it…

I haven’t met their parents yet.

I really don’t know who they are. We haven’t been formally introduced. They haven’t walked onto the page yet, and I can’t predict who’ll they’ll be, but…the longer they stay away, the more I think one might be Romanichal or possibly Kale.

And here, you probably think, “Well, that’s random, Holley.”

Nah. It’s real life.

I’ve been poring over my 23 & Me composition report for the past couple of weeks, and it’s had me second-guessing things I thought were true about my ancestry and researching new leads.

How “off” was it?

Well, Sub-Saharan African* was about what I calculated based on known ancestry. I had two black grandparents (which is to say, that’s how they identified. I’m aware that neither was likely 100% African). That accounts for about 50% off the bat. But…my East Asian/Native American component was WAY lower than I expected. I expected that to be around 12%. Which means my European component is therefore higher than I calculated. Around 30%.

A closer analysis using more robust admix calculators shows that’s the English/Irish I can actually document, some French/German I believe comes from my Pennsylvania Dutch ancestors, and then there’s a strong continental European pull that has me raising an eyebrow.

Dr. Doug McDonald's program churned this out for me.
Dr. Doug McDonald’s program churned this out for me.

Oh. And most calculators picked up something that looks like East Indian and Indo-Iranian.

Hey! Sounds like I just shook a Gypsy out of the family tree! Time to take a closer look at that grandmother who was supposed to be half-Blackfoot.

With all that information swirling around in my head, is it any wonder my casts look like the assembled “We Are the World” artists?

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MDLP World-22 – potential African polutations

*If you’re wondering why this isn’t broken down more specifically, it’s because Africa has a LOT of ethnic groups. A lot. Seriously. The field of ancestry DNA isn’t established enough or there to have been enough samples acquired from all of the groups. My “Nonspecific” European chunks are due more to European ethnic groups being too genetically similar to differentiate than because of low data.

Gedmatch‘s MDLP World-22 admix calculator, however, can speculate on groups my ancestors may have come from. –>

(Ignore that “Lumbee” bit. The calculator assigns you to groups based on collected data, and many people who identify as Lumbee have are products of a tri-racial gene pool. That’s not to say I’m not Lumbee at all, but I’m pretty sure my measurable native bits are from Colonial Haliwa-Saponi and Chowanoac populations. There’s no sample genetic material publicized about those folks right now. In the future, my percentages may change if the brains who work in the field of ancestry DNA figure out that, “Oh, this genetic mutation isn’t Mandenka. It’s indicative of Pima.” If you take samples from mixed-race people, sometimes the bits get mis-categorized. As more people with verifiable ancestry take these sorts of tests, the more accurate the assignments will be.)