New York Times: WCU’s DNA Tests Tell a Different Story About Race

DNA can often tell a different story about a person’s ancestry, and an 11-year project at WCU tells stories at the intersection of race and identity. Image via West Chester University.

Race plays an oversized role in society today, according to an 11-year study of 2,000 ancestry DNA tests and counting by West Chester University professors Anita Foeman and Bessie Lee Lawton.

The ongoing WCU communications studies project has delved into the “narratives at the intersection of race and identity” — especially when DNA testing contradicts long-held beliefs, according to a report in The New York Times by Foeman.

“Biologically, our ancestral differences reflect only a 0.1 percent difference in DNA. Yet we often cling to those differences,” she wrote.

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While the tests look back hundreds of years, volunteers often base their identities on a much shorter timeframe.

“It is a new twist on an old narrative made possible by cutting-edge science,” Foeman said. “The conversation is complicated and jagged, and it mercifully undermines neat, simplistic stories.”

Read more about the WCU DNA testing project, including a few examples, in The New York Times here.

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