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We are all one family - ancestry.com can prove it

Six degrees of separation: DNA testing on ancestry.com and other genealogy services can produce some surprising results which help to show that Bermudians of all races are one family

I am very enthused by the number of people that have recently become tuned in to ancestry.com and other like instruments. It must be common now and fairly widespread particularly when I can go to a random coffee shop and overhear three persons chatting about getting their DNA, then one of them offers she is trying to get her dog done, which was ironic because I had just finished talking to another lady at the same coffee shop, who said she had her dog vaccinated.

I have been very interested in my family from a very young age and was very fortunate to have an old aunt to whom I was endeared and who lived to the age of 103.

She herself, was a family enthusiast who recalled tales of an older person's tales when she herself was an adolescent.

That valued experience with my aunt gave me a small peep at folklore stretching back to the early 19th Century. As a result of that and other similar connections on my maternal and paternal sides, I gained a fair grasp of the immediate families in my bloodlines.

Soon I and many others may be able to quantify with fair approximation just how many persons in Bermuda have shared DNA.

The interesting thing in discovery is that DNA like this current Coronavirus doesn't care where you work or your profession and doesn't care about the colour of your skin either.

You just "is what you is". You can’t decide who your relatives are they are indelibly yours by virtue of DNA. The old saying, "You can choose your friends but you can't choose your family" is true.

Generally in Bermuda as a diverse society, we typically have classified our family along ethnic lines.

For different reasons for centuries that was the traditional way of embracing family from that of friends and strangers. Ancestry.com doesn't care about society and social laws, no one taught our DNA how to differentiate.

I have heard this, particularly from my white friends, there were times generations ago when grandmothers would suddenly begin to whisper during their chat around the table when so and so’s name came up.

Now with a little bit of spit, several pages of data come up and no conversation is necessary, no whisper can hide the reality of who so and so is or his/her connection.

No more "it has been said" because there is information that just can’t lie now in front of us.

Genealogical research does similar and for me over the many years, I had too much knowledge of my very close ancestors not to embrace that I had both black-white and other relations in Bermuda.

However, it's becoming more and more apparent just how deep and extensive that relationship is. I kind of knew who my black relatives were, [so I thought] and in a general way knew who my immediate white family was also, but little did I know until recently, that many of the white persons with whom I sat in rooms and with whom I crossed political swords - even the very white physician who was my childhood family doctor - are direct cousins whose lineage goes back to common ancestors.

That knowledge of lineage extended my understanding of family on both sides of the racial spectrum because, for many of my black cousins, our only common link is through the white side. Gloria McPhee and I knew as Darrells we were somehow related and would sit on the telephone for hours trying to figure how. We were connected, but not through any black ancestry, it was through our common white ancestor.

One great cricketer and probably the best wicketkeeper and goalkeeper Bermuda ever saw, certainly the most stylish, I would have coffee with at times. Again I am discovering he too is connected to me from the same white common ancestor.

In summary, the whispers need to end, all variants of miscegenation have to be thoroughly erased because the traditional or customary custom of family based on artificial race lines is antithetical to Bermuda’s reality.

I can near comfortably and even proudly say, I am probably related to 60 per cent of all Bermudians black or white through bloodlines and shared DNA.

Before my critics assemble an argument, this acknowledgement is no attempt to ignore or change history and doesn’t erase the pangs of slavery, which was based on the colour of one's skin.

But what it does do in modern times is provide a fulcrum for our children and the future generations of Bermuda to fully understand themselves as family. It lends future generations a tool and a possible bond that our ancestors were deprived of and culturally were bound to only whisper because it was improper to acknowledge otherwise.

I have seen this in some Middle Eastern countries where a clan known under one name will be a diversity of colours but see themselves as the same clan. That in real-time is the Bermuda reality, we are "one tribe" and that is not a sentiment. Ancestry.com will confirm it.

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Published January 13, 2022 at 7:59 am (Updated January 13, 2022 at 5:30 pm)

We are all one family - ancestry.com can prove it

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