We live in a culture that is more diverse than ever before. The different origin stories of many modern Americans often consist of a unique and rich array of ancestors. The variety that exists around the world is something that should be celebrated.
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Family trees are extremely complex, and a person can feel a deep sense of belonging once they find out about the generations that came before them and learn a fundamental part about who they are.
In a way, discovering your ethnicity could be a missing piece of the puzzle, or can give you a deeper, and greater appreciation for your family’s sacrifices and traditions. Rituals, religion, and language are all contributing factors that can give us hints about the people who came before us and provide insight into what their views were.
There is a difference between nationality and ethnicity, which is why this article focuses on ethnicity and outlines how to figure out what ethnicity you are. Unlike nationality, there are fewer factors that are considered when determining ethnicity.
The percentages are taken from your parents’ and grandparents’ ethnicities in order to generate your own. Nationality is more of a legal identity determined primarily by where someone was born.
That’s why the two tend to differ on forms and offer some degree of ambiguity during filing and application processes.
Naturally, this is the easiest place to look when trying to pinpoint your own ethnicity. By definition, your ethnicity is a summary of both of your biological parents’ own ethnicities and grandparents’.
For example, if your paternal grandmother is 100% Irish, your father will have been 50% Irish, making you 25% Irish. Although it seems easy to divide percentages by half, it can be a little more complicated when considering that your grandparents might not have simply been 100% one ethnicity.
The additional mathematics required to generate an exact number of each ethnicity amount is pretty confusing when a lot of people don’t fully know where they are from.
A great place to start if you don’t have access to your birth parents’ records or are put off by DNA kits, you could work out what percentage American you are. This is a good way to start because you are then able to trace the exact locations of your parents’ births and even begin to explore your heritage.
For visual thinkers, a great way to map everything out is using a family tree. This can help you figure out everyone within your family’s ethnicity and percentages.
You could also write down the place of birth for everyone and ask family members if they know of other people who they can include or trace on your branch diagram.
There are a lot of different online quizzes that might help you discover more about yourself and open doors to your heritage journey. Although some quizzes will focus on how connected you feel to nature or where you draw strength from, others are a little more constructive because they will ask for details about you and what you know about your parents.
Living in the modern world, everything is digitized, and it’s very easy to access information such as birth and death certificates as well as local newspapers from eras that came before you. There are also simple ethnicity calculators that can be effective for generating a ballpark figure if the percentages are unclear to you.
The most obvious and accurate way to know what ethnicity you are is to do a DNA heritage test. Companies like 23andme and ancestry will use a small sample of your DNA, which is usually saliva, and compare it with hundreds of other percentages and ethnicity combinations that exist around the world.
You will receive accurate percentage divisions as well as detail on how they worked out your ethnicity. The role of DNA tests is massive because more and more people are comparing their results and giving the gift of exploring heritage to loved ones.
Another advantage of these kinds of tests is that you are also able to contact relatives which you might not have known about before. Long-lost cousins and other family members have been united using these services and are able to interact with each other using chat forums. This is perfect for comparing notes and trying to uncover some heritage secrets within your ancestry.
Of course, there have been some concerns expressed regarding the DNA test process. One of these is data storage. Companies will use your information to compare with others across the world, which has been argued as an invasion of privacy.
An individual’s data is highly personal. The forums have said that they will only keep someone’s personal information for as long as they need it, and it is disposed of in a confidential manner.
Money is another big concern for DNA kits because they are often rather expensive. This is why we can only recommend affordable solutions and carrying out a test if you can afford it. It is definitely something worth saving up for, though because you might never know the true source of your ancestry without it.
To summarize, ethnicity is something that is an important part of many people’s identity and sense of purpose. For minority groups, the label can provide a sense of belonging to a larger group, and add a sense of community. This is especially prominent among young people who want to feel connected in some way.
There are several ways in which you can calculate your ethnicity, from quizzes and online calculators to speaking with family members. A great thing you can do is speak with your siblings, if you have any, and discuss what you know about your biological parents.
You could even chip into a DNA test that will give you accurate results about where you have come from. Some people can’t figure out where they are going until they know where they came from. The future is ours for the taking.