Understanding your family’s ancestry can be an important part of connecting with your history and learning about your genealogy, but it’s not always easy for everyone. For some groups, learning about their family’s history and migration can be difficult due to a variety of factors. African Americans, for instance, still encounter some difficulties. Until recently, most tests focused largely on European descent, which limited their possible results.
However, that is quickly changing as more ethnic groups start to investigate their history. Fortunately, today there are several great services that can test your DNA and help you learn more about your family’s origins, where your ancestors are from (even in cases of forced migration) and can shed a light on your history and black ancestry.
Top African American DNA Testing Kits
African Ancestry DNA Testing – Simple and Easy
While you may be imagining long needles and painful blood sample collections, DNA testing kits today are surprisingly fast and easy to take. Today, every home DNA testing kit you use only requires a saliva sample or two for testing. Even so, it’s important to mind the process while you’re taking a test to ensure that everything will go smoothly, and you’ll be able to access the results. Here is how to take a quick African American ancestry test:
- Choose your kit and order it – Once you know what you’re looking for, you can have a test shipped directly to your home.
- Examine the materials inside – Open your box and make sure everything you need is inside. Test kits will include the sample collection tools you need (either tubes or swabs) as well as containers to place them in along with envelopes to return the test back to the company.
- Register your test – This is the most important step, as it’ll ensure you can access your test results. Due to privacy reasons, you’ll register your test with a specific code, so the lab will not be able to access your personal information while processing your test.
- Collect your DNA samples – Most tests on the market either require a small spit sample, which requires you to spit into a small tube, or a cell sample from the inside of your cheek collected with a cotton swab. Make sure to abide by any instructions to ensure your sample’s purity such as avoiding food, drink, and smoking for some time before taking the test.
- Send your sample back – The final step is to put your samples in their proper containers, place them in an envelope, and send them back to the company. Once they receive your sample, you’ll receive your results in a few short weeks.
How Autosomal DNA Testing Can Give You More Information
When you want to explore your family ancestry and regional origins, autosomal DNA tests (which look at your non-sex related chromosomes) can give you a great deal of information. Autosomal tests can show you which specific regions your family and ancestors are from, whether it’s North Africa or the Sub-Saharan part of the continent. Additionally, autosomal DNA testing can give you a better picture of your ethnic breakdown and even help you find long lost relatives and distant family members.
Go for DNA Testing Kits that Provide Ethnic or Racial Details
If you really want to dive into your family’s history, you’ll need a test that can give you in-depth information into your specific ethnic makeup and your ancestors’ potential location of origin. While tests are unfortunately still somewhat behind in terms of determining exact ethnicities when it comes to African ancestry DNA tests, they can still give you a great starting point. Additionally, you should look for companies that offer “family tree” options, which are opt-in and let you add your findings to the vast database of other customers. While privacy concerns are understandable, it’s actually valuable to add yourself to the list, as it can help you connect with family you may not even know you had.
The Top Brands for African American Ancestry DNA Tests
While there are countless options for DNA testing kits on the market, we’ve found that there are some that stand out in certain niches more than others. These are three of the top brands for Black ancestry DNA Tests:
As one of the most prominent databases for African ancestry DNA on the market, this company is at the top of the list for good reason. African Ancestry offers a collection of roughly 33,000 DNA lines from 40 different countries, providing precise and conclusive data that can bring you closer to your family’s history. Additionally, the company is 100% African American-owned, and places a great premium on users’ privacy.
- Cost – Starting at $299
- Analysis Type – mtDNA or Y-DNA
- Privacy – The company does not disclose any user details to anyone
23andMe is one of the most talked about and popular DNA testing kits on the market, and it’s also useful for finding out about your African ancestry. The company houses an extensive database of user profiles and can help you match with long-lost or even unknown family members. Additionally, it can show you a comprehensive breakdown of ethnicities that make up your ancestry.
- Cost – Starting at $99
- Analysis Type – Autosomal DNA, mtDNA, Y-DNA
- Privacy – 23andMe does gain use of your DNA and information when you sign up for the service
MyHeritage provides some of the most detailed and in-depth results of any company, making it great if you’re looking to learn more about your Black ancestry. You can view your genetic past broken down into percentages, and you can trace your family line back up to six generations. MyHeritage also has a large database of users, and covers up to 42 different regions.
- Cost – Starting at $80
- Analysis type– Autosomal DNA
- Privacy – The company does not use your DNA and does not even store it permanently. You can delete at any time.
Learning about your family history and your African ancestry is an important component of embracing your identity. Fortunately, there are many options to help you get the information you need. With much simpler testing methods and affordable prices, it’s easier than ever to start learning more. There are still some challenges—such as a relatively small sample size—but as more people contribute to the knowledge pool and test their DNA, you’ll also be able to get more precise and in-depth results. The three companies above are some of our top choices, but there are other great alternatives. Read more about each company in our Expert Reviews, and see what others are saying in our hundreds of authentic user reviews.