According to some sources, genetic genealogy testing rises considerably during February, which is Black History Month (as I wrote about last February). Part of this might be due to last year’s very popular TV show “African American Lives” on PBS. Starting next week (on the 6th) is the first half of the latest version of the show, “African American Lives 2.” I’ll be watching, and I think most of you will be interested in the show as well.
In anticipation of this series, Diverse Education has written an article entitled “The Value of Knowing Where You Come From.” The author of this article, Cassie Chew, recently interviewed me and a few of my quotes made it into the article. The article wonders if there is a possible genetic explanation for behaviors that run in families. For instance, one of Oprah’s ancestors appeared to have built a school on his land, and Oprah recently opened a school in South Africa. Is the appreciation of education genetic?
As I explained to the author, it is possible, but there are also many other possible explanations. For instance, the appreciation of education could have been instilled in the children of each generation by parents, which wouldn’t require any genetic component. Additionally, it is likely that if we looked hard enough we could find an ancestor who exhibited any characteristic we value in ourselves (while we ignore the ancestor who portrayed the opposite of that characteristic!). Scientists just aren’t able to currently identify genetic explanations for almost all human behavior, and the answer will certainly almost never be a gene or two. Our behavior is a very complex mixture of nature and nurture.
African American Lives 2 will air February 6th and 13th from 9 to 11pm on PBS.