This Black-Owned Company Can Help You Trace Your African Lineage
By DeAnna Taylor
As one of the only Black geneticists, Dr. Rick Kittles wanted to create a way for Black Americans to trace their roots back to Africa.
In 2003 Kittles and his business partner, Dr. Gina Paige, started their company African Ancestry. “Like many African Americans, I wanted to trace my ancestry,” Kittles told Black Enterprise. “But like so many of us, I hit a brick wall.”
While there are several of these kits on the market, this one was created by Black people for Black people. It goes as far as telling you which country you originated from, rather than just the continent.
Kittles created a comprehensive genetic African Lineage Database, which is a repository of molecular blueprints of African peoples. It is made up of 11,747 paternal lineages and 13,690 maternal lineages from more than 389 distinct locations in Africa. You can choose to trace the lineage of your mother or father.
“It is the most comprehensive resource available on African lineages in the world,” Kittles adds. “I was doing my Ph.D. dissertation on the Finnish population [while] at George Washington University and knew I could use the same techniques and apply them to the African population. I want to reverse what I see as a sad trend that allows too many African American children to believe their family history begins with slavery.”
The company has been able to trace the roots of notable African Americans like Oprah Winfrey, John Legend, Spike Lee, Condoleezza Rice and The family of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
You simply take a sample of DNA from your cheek and mail it to the company’s lab. Your sample is even sent directly to Kittles for him to cross-check for best accuracy. In about 4-6 weeks, your results are returned detailing your country of origin and also going as far as naming the tribes.
Many people take the results and use them to plan travel to their country of origin. It serves as a way to reconnect with their ancestors and learn more about the place that they originated from.
The African Ancestry kits are $349 and can be purchased via the company’s website.
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel writer. The Charlotte native recently completed one year abroad working as an English teacher in South Korea. Her hobbies include fitness, traveling to new countries, and trying new foods.