Lineage: The Extraordinary Gift of Knowing Where You Came From

For my birthday, my husband gave me a precious gift: my identity.

My husband has always known who he was. He has a family crest and can trace his ancestry back centuries. Me? I’ve wandered around in complete ignorance, mostly because my family, descendants of slaves, kept horrible records even after the practice was abolished. My mother, who suffers from a serious case of shade inferiority due to color-struck relatives, stumbled around my questions about my lineage, and would reply with the oft-repeated, “You have Indian in you,” for no other reason than because my hair grows long. She’s make these statements proudly but with further explanation or proof.

Turns out my mother was only half right. I do have Indian in me, but not of the Native American variety. My Indian roots come from the source–India, Pakistan, China. Wait till I tell her. She might need to take a moment to recover.

I discovered this fact because my husband sent for the National Geographic GENO 2.0 DNA kit as a birthday gift. He wanted me to know who I was, and he wanted our children to know as well. This is such an extraordinary gift, because many African Americans focus on slavery as Year One, with no deeper understand where their ancestors came from. Knowing who you are, your lineage, is incredibly empowering. I have now recaptured a part of my history that was stolen from me so long ago.

I just found out the results tonight so as I write this, I’m still processing this new information. I, Christelyn Karazin, am 77% Luhya, a Bantu-speaking tribe from Kenya.



In fact, I’m more “African” than the average African American. My remaining lineage comes from Eastern Europe (think Scandinavia, Russia, etc), Mediterranean, and Southwest Asian.

Here’s how my lineage compares to the average Kenyan:

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 10.16.57 PM

Time to start saving for a trip “back home,” and now I know EXACTLY where to go.

But here’s the mystery: how did my folks get to the U.S.? My maiden name is Russell, which is English.

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