Vh1 sponsors test to help blacks find roots

Music channel Vh1 is sponsoring a genealogy test that will allow blacks across America to trace their lineage back to any country in the world.

Richard Lockley, director of African ancestry testing for the PatriClan Test and the MatriClan Test, said many people have gotten involved in finding out about their ancestry.

“Participation is easy,” Lockley said. “You order a public participation kit, then with twenty cheeks swaps – taking a Q-tip and swabbing the inside lining of your cheeks on both sides for 30 seconds to extract the DNA, the participant sends it back to us through the mail to the lab orator. We go through our database and search what country or ethic group they come from.”

Lockley said although there are two tests, one to trace paternal lineage and another for maternal lineage, females are only capable of using the maternal lineage test. This, Lockley explained, is because the Y chromosome provides all the information needed to trace paternal lineage. Since men receive X and Y chromosomes from parents and females receive two Xs and no Y, the test is physically impossible to perform on women.

Once the DNA is received, the lab enters it into a large database. Lockley said people can find out where their ancestors originated from, their race, and where they have dispersed throughout the world. The database can find ancestry not only from Africa, but also from other countries.

“If we don’t find any matches from what we have in our database, we have another database that has a larger search, which can go from South America to Asia,” Lockley said. “But a lot of the ancestry is being found in Africa because of the effect of the slave trade.”

In addition, people can find out if they have “famous lines,” by using the “famous DNA” feature.

Lockley said the demographic is diverse, and the ethnic backgrounds of the people taking the test are widespread.

“I think that it would be very interesting to find out where my ancestors came from and if they came from Africa or not,” said Alana Lewis, 19, an elementary education student from Georgia.

“The test is highly confidential unless the participant gives permission to disclose information to a third party,” Lockley said.

The standard paternal package is $119, the advanced paternal is $199. The “Advanced Combo” package is a high-resolution test that uses both paternal and maternal lines for $318.

By ordering now, a $299 special is available for the advanced package. In addition, two tests can be purchased for a special price of $275. There is also a family package available for $500, which includes the male and female tests.

“Even though the cost is kind of high for a college student to afford, it might just be worth it to know where your roots are from and how it makes you who you are, physically,” said Samantha Savory, 19, a business administration student from Fort Lauderdale.

The buzz African ancestry testing mentions this terminology higher in story has received is enormous. Chris Tucker, Blair Underwood and Oprah Winfrey are among the celebrities who have taken the test.

“Blair Underwood found that he has a line of ancestry from Asia and Oprah has ancestry from the West Coast of Africa, so that just shows you that your ancestry could be anyone and from anywhere,” Lockley said.

Alaina Reddick, 20, a nursing student from Jacksonville, said she believes the test would be beneficial.

“I feel this test will put you closer to your identity,” Reddick said.