Original Ad: Ancestry DNA
This advertisement originates from an ancestry.com commercial, but the picture shown above is also used as an ad on their website. The full length commercial features a man named Joseph discovering he’s 6% Native American from an Ancestry DNA kit, and immediately relives the “Trail of Tears”, a dark time in American history when various First Nations groups were forced from their lands in a process called the “Indian Removal”. They were forced to walk thousands of miles, where many suffered from diseases and starvation. It is estimated that 5,000 Cherokee people died as a result of the Trail of Tears.
In the ad above, it shows Joseph’s results from the Ancestry DNA kit. Which shows him to be 94% European (British, Europe West, Scandinavian, and 2% Other) and 6% Native American. Although the results showed that he is 94% European, he immediately relives a traumatic time for First Nations people in American history that was inflicted upon them by White European Settlers, which Joseph is 94% of. As well, in the ad it depicts him as one of the victims of the Trail of Tears, although it is most likely his 94% European Ancestors were the ones responsible for colonization and this traumatic event in history. There is also no proof of him having familial connection to this traumatic event that he is supposedly “reliving”.
In this jammed version of the original ad, I replaced the top text with “Joseph is 6% Native American. He’s a Victim of Oppression too.” I did this to point out that the majority of people who take ancestry DNA tests, are caucasian people looking to self identify as another race, as a way to claim being victims of oppression too, and therefore diminish their guilt of being white. Joseph doesn’t want to acknowledge his 94% European Ancestry, which contributed to colonization, genocide, and other traumatic events (Trail of Tears) to First Nations people in America. But upon discovering his 6% Native American DNA ancestry, he is now embracing being Native American as well as the oppression First Nations people have faced throughout history and even today. Although he spent the majority of his life privileged and not affected by oppression, he is now suddenly a victim of oppression. He is embracing the oppression as a way to be a victim of oppression and therefore diminish his whiteness and not have to acknowledge his 94% European Ancestry, and all of the bad his ancestors have done throughout history. He is focusing in on his 6% Native American while completely dismissing his 94% White Privilege.
Why do so many people take Ancestry DNA tests? Are why are most of these people caucasian? It seems as though a large amount of white people are starting to feel guilty for their ancestors (or their own) racism towards minority groups, and contributions to traumatic events in history (Colonization, Genocide, Trail of Tears, Residential Schools, Concentration Camps, Slavery, and much more). It seems as though in recent years, people are starting to acknowledge these past traumatic events, oppression, and racism towards minority groups, whereas before it was ignored and unacknowledged. Now that these traumatic events have come to surface, and the white population is becoming aware of certain events (Such as Residential Schools and Japanese Internment Camps) that they were unaware of before, they want to disassociate themselves from the white population by claiming “I’m 6% Native American. I’m a victim of oppression too”.