Who’s Getting Left Behind by Genetic Genealogy?

An article dated January 27, 2021 article from The Atlantic, The Victims Left Behind by Genetic Genealogy, is a must-read for those with even a slightly casual interest in home DNA testing.

From the article:

“An Atlantic analysis of more than 100 cases using this powerful new policing tool found only four involving a homicide with a Black victim.”

Excuse me, what?

Perhaps this “news” should be no marvel, but it is so very disappointing. As an enthusiastic advocate for all manner of justice and truth, and as a proponent of DNA testing for genealogical purposes, to learn that there is DNA data mining with disproportionate doling of “justice” is simply, and I’ll use a technical term here, effed up.

Also from the article:

“As genetic genealogy becomes more routine, the types of cases solved may become more typical of America’s homicide victims. To some extent, this is happening already. But so far this new technique has been applied primarily to cases with white victims, reflecting biases in the criminal-justice system and in society at large. Black communities are often over-policed, a deep-set problem that 2020’s protests against police killings put in stark relief. But they are also under-policed, and it is this second problem that has distorted the use of genetic genealogy.”

Houston, Silicon Valley, and to the greater genealogy community, we have a problem.

The other side of the equation is the importance of thinking about whether we want our DNA to be used in such a way at all by such a system.

The tradeoff for “learning” about us…

We have a situation.

Please be sure to read the article, consider the implications, decide how/if you want your DNA information to be shared, and remain clued in and a part of these genetic genealogy discussions/spaces.

The Genealogy Situation Room

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