The Atlantic

Letters: ‘My Culture Was in My DNA’

Readers share their experiences with genetic testing—and debate whether ancestry can be a meaningful proxy for culture.
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Your DNA Is Not Your Culture

In September, Sarah Zhang explored how DNA-testing companies conflate genetics and culture while promoting their products.


The discussion should be “Your Culture Is Your DNA.” As an African American whose elementary- and high-school books in New York said my ancestors were oppressed, passive people, I was concerned because I heard a different message at home and in my community. I heard stories of heroic people who defended themselves, resisted, rebelled, and waged antislavery Maroon rebellions. In college, when I proposed my American-history term project of researching Maroon slave rebellions in the Americas, the chair of

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