Elizabeth Warren’s Ancestry and what DNA Tests Really Say About Who You Are
A new field has exploded in recent years known as “consumer genetics.” Companies like Ancestry.com and 23andMe claim to they can give people a new sense of ethnic identity by tracing their DNA to other regions of the world. This week, the science moved into electoral politics. As Harvard Professor, now Senator Elizabeth Warren’s political career took off, many noticed the Caucasian-looking Warren self-identify as Native American. During the 2016 campaign, then candidate Donald Trump coined a nickname for Warren - “Pocahontas”. Trump dared Warren to prove her ancestry. The President also promised a one million-dollar donation to an indigenous cause, if Warren’s native ancestry checked out. So this week, Senator Warren released DNA results that supposedly found she has an indigenous ancestor between 6 to 10 generations back. That means that one in up to 1,024 of Warren’s ancestors could have been Native American. On Tuesday, Trump Tweeted, “Elizabeth Warren should apologize for perpetrating this fraud against the American Public. Harvard called her ‘a person of color’ (amazing con), and would not have taken her otherwise!” To discuss the intricacies of genetics, belonging, and how consumerism compromises our desire to know who we are, we’ll talk with Eviatar Zerubavel, professor of Sociology at Rutgers University, and author of Ancestors and Relatives: Genealogy, Identity, and Community, and Joseph Graves, associate dean for Research & professor of Biological Sciences at the Joint School of Nano-sciences and Nano-engineering at North Carolina A&T and UNC Greensboro.