2/3/2018 Session #9


Today’s notes were gathered by Brown In Chicago Fellow Merari Flores while I took a sick day because the flu has been spreading around aggressively! Edits to notes made by Violet. Additional guest joined today’s session such as staff from LSNA and the parents of some of the youth participants. Today’s presentations is to unpack DNA from three different professional backgrounds in biology, anthropology, genealogy and social work.

Check in question:What are we expecting to hear/find out today?

Tammy- The biggest thing I like to learn today is how to better understand my 23andMe results? What do they actually mean? I have second and third cousins from the reports, should I reach out to them?

Annisa- I’m excited to learn more!

Gerrick- I’m pretty anxious to be honest but I still haven’t gotten my results yet.

Merari- I already had my results from last year so i’m excited to see what y’alls results are.

Emma’s parents- Extremely excited to find out more! To see how closely related we are to others.

Lucas- I don’t really know, I’ll take it as it is, my first cousin reached out, a third cousin reached out to me from the reports.

Arely- This is my second year too, even though you never finish learning about genealogy

Evelyn- I’m really excited to learn more about bio-culture, it’s something I want to be able to talk to my family about this because it was problematic.

Ashley- I just want to learn a little bit more about where I come from.

Kerry- I’m excited to explain more about the Azknasi Jewish ancestry.


Notes from the following presentation:

1.The Migrations of Homo Sapiens

-Where do we come from originally? We are all for the most part from East Africa.

-We don’t know the whole picture but we know we arrived about 50,000 years ago.

2.Racism and ‘race science’ in the 1800s

-When Irish people started pouring into the U.S there was a notion that they looked closer to Black people.

3.Skin color spectrum

-The amounts of red and yellow based melanin in the skin which protects it from ultraviolet rays from the sun, is highest nearest the equator, declining further away where skin is exposed less and still needs more sunlight to produce vitamin.

-Skin color does relate to where people have originally migrated from.

-Freckles are a mutation of dark skinned pigment people losing color, result of later migration. Why? Because as we move to places that have less and less sunlight we lose color.

4.Is it in our genes? Is it in our cultures?

-Extreme biological determinism:basically justifies outright racism, all social conditions and behaviors are linked to biology.

-Extreme social constructionism=all life conditions and behaviors are socially made, this can be used to justify colorblind racism

-Bio-cultural synthesis=social conditions and behaviors are linked to ancestries and inheritances.this recognizes difference but undermines racists claims.

5.What forces are leading us to map our genes?

-The Black community wanted to know their ancestry, people wanted to learn more about themselves. There is this form of “marketing a more inclusive” gene.

-Genes are not stuck to geographies.

-When we say someone is west african we say from gene flow that it is where place of conception was.

-We have never been a species that has stayed in one place.

6.The whole picture of our biocultural selves

-Phenotype has to do with reproduction, identity and ascription is how you and others see you, family and kinship has to do with how physical traits are sure.

-A recent study showed there is wider genetic variation among present day indigenous people in Mexico than between for example the average German and Japanese person.

Questions from the presentation:

Emma’s parents: Why would anybody want to know more about me? i’m very happy knowing I have Native American and African in me!

Ashley: I can actually answer that, my grandma was indigenous from Oaxaca so I was always wondering where exactly she came from specifically what tribe, and I went to Arizona and there was indigenous women from oaxaca and they say they couldn’t help me find out exactly know from what tribe, so I like knowing after seeing my dna results that I have my grandmother living in me.

Tammy: For me, I would really like my results to narrow down to specific countries, because West African is not enough, my whole family says we are Native American, so getting the results back I can see there is not one drop of native American, I want to know the specific countries, knowing specifically where I’m from. I boohooed tremendously and that’s because we don’t know where we were from, as I shared this with my family members they just didn’t care and i can’t understand why.


-Based on fossils how old is our world? As far as we can tell from the oldest rocks on the planet our planet is about 4.5 billion years old

-How old are Homo sapiens? About 200,000 years old
-When we started seeing lineage of modern-day life it happened at 500 million years.

1.A Brief History of life

-Our planet has not always looked the same way it looks today, if you look at an apple and see the skin, that is how much actual land we have on our planet, everything else is lava.

-When you have rock that is extremely hot it starts to move so all the top little plates are literally flowing on lava and they are constantly moving, so what we have today has not always been and depending on where continents are determines wind currents and the global climate

-Our continents have always been shifting.

-Darwin explained a mechanism how to explain how evolution works which was natural selection.

-Somewhere around 12 million years ago Central America came up.

-Modern day chimps are still around because they adapted to the forest and stayed in the forest.


-We evolved from australopithecus africanus to homo erectus.

-We are more closely related to chimps but we did not come from chimps.



-Genealogical dna testing lets us go deeper than our known family tree.

-Son and daughter get the mitochondria dna.

-Fathers pass down the Y dna.

-The further back you go the less percentage you get.

-Why ashkenazi dna? The jews that originally came from Spain are called sephardic jews. In 1492 the catholic church offered the jews of spain.

-When we see Ashkenazi in our DNA it is most likely Jews who were forced to convert and then came to the Americas.


12/2/17 Session #5

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This morning was very anticipated by our youth and their families to complete and submit our 23andMe DNA kits! Over breakfast we were able to share with the families our process of the Brown In Chicago project from the previous year and what this new group of participants. At the end we held a small candle lighting ceremony and invited the parents/families to share a “wish” they have for their children as they anticipate their results over the next 4-6 weeks. Many parents expressed gratitude to be apart of this project, wished their children to feel more proud and confident about their culture and many blessings and we learn to honor our ancestors and history.

Meeting # 12 10/29/2016


1) Tell us something you learned about an indigenous community in your family’s state in Mexico, Puerto Rico or Colombia, Ecuador. Ideally close to where your family is from. Tell us something your learned about them from your family or from Wikipedia.
2) Bring an item (clothing, textiles, picture, clay figures, jewelry etc) that represents this group that you may have around your house. (Or take a pic of it if your parents won’t let you).

Share on these two points for about five minutes.

Meeting #7 08/15/2016

1) Welcome and purpose La Cultura Cura 30 anos de cambios
2) Introductions with check-in question:

  • Diga por favor su nombre y su pueblo de origen.

3) Powerpoint about DNA and consent forms


4) DNA swabbing, email registering

5) Dinner

6) Presentation from Barreras & then Kerry

  • Fill out form with names of family born before 1950

7) Q and A
8 ) Closing ceremony- poem and un deseo que tienes Por su hijo