Ancestry.com says they can help anyone discover their story. But if they don't acknowledge parts of our past, how can they help us understand it?
Last year, my brother and I gave in to all the DNA test commercials and decided to send in a saliva sample to discover our history. My father had always told me that he was part Native American and after he passed, we became even more curious about our roots.
When we got the results we were excited to learn our history. The majority of our DNA came from Africa, that we expected, some came from Europe and surprisingly some came from Polynesia.
But what was even more surprising was how Ancestry.com explained their arrival here in the United States. When zooming in on our African lineage from nations like Benin and the Ivory Coast, Ancestry.com suggested that our ancestors had arrived in the South during the "migration" of the past few hundred years.
Migration implies choice, a desire to improve your station in life, pick up camp and travel to another country in hopes of something better. That is most certainly not what happened to my African ancestors who came here in the hull of a ship like chattel only to be sold into slavery when they arrived.
My European ancestors did, indeed, immigrate here. But the ones that came from Africa had an entirely different and more sinister experience. They were brought here by force, stolen from their homeland, shipped across the Atlantic ocean, and made to toil the fields of others.
When I read their explanation, I was both shocked and offended. Slavery is an ugly fact of American history. But one with which we must reconcile honestly, not with euphemisms or kid gloves. Ancestry.com is failing its customers if it cannot do so.
Ask Ancestry.com to tell our history honestly. Sign the petition and ask them to stop referring to slavery as migration.