African roots results.
229 British African Caribbean's took part in a unique study to trace their
genetic roots. They all gave DNA samples to try to find out where in
Africa their families originated from. When the results were analysed
together, some striking conclusions were drawn about British African
One quarter of British African Caribbean men have a direct European male
The study reveals that, on average, one in four British African Caribbean
men have a Y chromosome that traces back to Europe rather than Africa. As
the Y chromosome is passed from father to son, this shows that one quarter
of the volunteers' male ancestors were European. So, whether it was
through rape, consent or even affection, many white slave owners
impregnated their African slaves.
|"[This] really reflects the sexual politics
of the situation of slavery. This was a power relationship between
these two populations and in that power relationship it was European
men who were having sex with African women."
|Dr Mark Jobling from the University of
Leicester who analysed the Y chromosome data
Female ancestors were African
By contrast only about 2% of British African Caribbean's have
mitochondrial DNA that traces to Europe. Mitochondrial DNA is passed from
mother to child, so these results show that, on the whole, the volunteers'
female ancestors were African.
Majority of ancestors were African
One quarter of men and 2% of women who took part have European ancestors.
So the survey shows that the vast majority of British African Caribbean's
are descended from the millions of Africans who were shipped across the
Atlantic to work as slaves on Caribbean sugar plantations.
Ancestry and skin colour
Dr Mark Shriver from Penn State University examined the link between
ancestry and skin pigmentation. He didn't look at mitochondrial or Y
chromosome DNA for this, instead he studied DNA which is mixed up every
generation by a process known as recombination.
He concludes that although African ancestry can be a rough guide to how
light or dark a person is, appearances can be deceptive. After in-depth
research into his own origins, he discovered that although he looks like a
white North-American, he is, in fact, 25% African.