Andujar: When your funny habits turn out to be ancestry

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1995

This is an installment of Suzette Andujar’s weekly column “As I Was Saying.”

I’m British. I’ve said this since I was a little girl. Now, I don’t live there nor have I ever been there, but for some reason, even though I’m from Jersey, I’ve always connected with British culture.

Maybe it’s because I love afternoon tea, appreciate telephone booths (“Doctor Who” anyone?) or maybe it’s because I connected to the Spice Girls when I was 12 years old. Whatever the case, my family always laughed when I broke out into my stereotypical British accent. It’s impeccable really, I’m quite good at it and often times embarrass my friends by speaking in the accent at the mall. (Did you read that in a British accent?)

Since I’m actually Puerto Rican, I never thought I’d have any true connection to the British culture and chalked it up to being an anglophile; however, I was proven wrong when I took an ancestry DNA test. There were many surprises and things I expected, but I was shocked when I saw that I was, in fact, made up of some British DNA.
OK so three percent isn’t a whole lot, but really it’s worth bragging about! I’m also three percent Irish, so I had a reason to dress in green this year.

If you’re not familiar with Ancestry.com, here’s a quick run down: you can search census/marriage records and find your ancestors. I did the free trial and went back to the 1700s on my maternal side. You can also order a DNA kit which is basically a tube ready for your saliva (science is very graphic). Once sent in, they compare your DNA globally.
The wait felt like forever, but in reality it was 2 months. When the results were in, I never clicked on a link faster in my life. They put the results into a pie chart, broke down the percentages with maps showing me the regions I came from and compared my DNA to the average native.
I’m 52 percent European! The biggest number was 38 percent Spaniard. Italy/Greece was six percent, and my favorite, Great Britain, was there at a whopping three percent. I’m 12 percent Native American. They couldn’t narrow down which Native American, but I assume that it was the Taino, native to Puerto Rico. This all comes together with the Spaniards settling in the Caribbean and bringing to the island the other biggest part of me and a huge shocker: 32 percent African. Shocking because I guessed I had a little African, but not 32 percent!

Somewhere in my ancestry (I’m assuming around the 1500s), my family descended from the Ivory Coast and Ghana region. The remaining percentages were from various eastern and western countries in Europe.
I wonder now if I’m somehow related to Columbus and that terrifies me for many reasons; however, I’m glowing because even though I’m a proud American and Puerto Rican, I now know why I feel the need to make paper crowns at Christmas, buy Union Jack socks and break out in a British accent; it’s literally in my DNA!

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