Several Things My DNA Results Revealed Besides My Ethnic Background

When approaching the observance of Black History Month in recent years, I’ve opted to focus more on the obscure and the provocative. Most people who attended public school in the United States at one point in their lives or another knows that Harriet Tubman helped slaves escape to New England and Canada, but I highly doubt that many know that she is also an honored (though questionably compensated) war hero.

Another way that I’ve been celebrating the quieter moments in black history is by looking into my only family history. I may not be the great-grandniece of an NAACP founder or kin to NBA royalty, but every bloodline is unique as the next and it makes us all who we are. Stories like that of Henrietta Lacks are the truest testament to this. Embracing and cherishing your eccentricity and singularity is truly an act of self-love.

And what better way to embrace your own uniqueness than to mail your spit off to a DNA testing company? It should be no secret now that with the help of modern science and technology, anyone can learn about where they come from. T’Challa has the right idea.

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I opted for a DNA test that looked at everything from ethnicity to disease variants. I had always been interested in learning more about my ethnic background, particularly my African and Native American ancestry, and medical history. My results were very surprising and I ended up learning more about myself than I expected.

Music is in my blood

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According to my DNA results, I have a 50/50 chance of being able to “match musical pitch”. 50/50 might seem like too neutral of a stat, but lucky for me, I’ve got historical proof to back it up. 

Guess whose maternal grandfather is the lead singer.

My family is no more Motown royalty than they are NBA royalty, but I still, he’s my grandpa, not yours.

“Big-boned” and sickle cell free

The good news is, based on my genetics, I’m not at risk of having it. The bad news is that people of African descent are most likely to suffer from the disease.

“Sickle cell anemia is a genetic disorder characterized by anemia, episodes of pain, and frequent infections. A person must have two HbS variants in the HBB gene in order to have this condition.” – 23andme

Although I’m not at risk of sickle cell, I am prone to naturally weigh nearly 10% more than clinically suggested for someone my height.

Shocking.

This undoubtedly means that I have to work harder than the “average” (whatever that means) person to stay in shape. But, it also means that “in shape” might look different for me than what it looks like for you. And that is ok because science says so. I am okay because I am me.

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And furthermore, the way I see it, women who look like me had to look good, women my grands and great-grands didn’t have trouble finding husbands.

The brilliant moral of this story is that I’m attractive, I’m black, I’m not tone deaf and there is absolutely no one else quite like me.

Happy Black History Month.

 

 *Featured image of Henrietta Lacks is from Medical Daily via Wikimedia.


 

downloadJiell Richardson is a web designer/developer, fat yogi padawan, and blogger based in Washington, DC, USA.

It’s the Only Scholarship for HIV Positive Scholars, with Less Than 30 Days To Apply

The HIV League, a New York-based nonprofit is currently accepting applications for the 2019 HIV League Scholarship, which will award up to $7,000 to a handful of deserving post-secondary part-time and full-time scholars living with HIV. The deadline to the submit is January 31.

The scholarship initiative appears to have been around for at least two years and has awarded scholarships to six fortunate individuals out of over 720 applicants since 2017, including people as young as 17-years-old and as old as 64-years-old. It is also reported that the applicant pool represents a diverse group in terms of racial, ethnic, gender and sexual identity. Nicole Begay, a 2017 HIV League Scholar writes:

I am so proud to be doing what I do and pursuing my dream of becoming a designer. It has been a struggle throughout these past four years of high school, but I have learned how to stick with what I love no matter what people say and to be determined, motivated, and persevere through anything. I believe that anyone can do anything as long as they put their best efforts forward and never give up. No one can stop me from pursuing my dream except for myself.  –hivleague.org

According to the statistics backed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services along with Secretary’s Minority AID Fund, it was approximated that in 2016 over 39,000 Americans had been newly affected with human immunodeficiency virus, otherwise known as HIV. Roughly half of young adults age 13-24 with the diagnoses were unaware that they had been infected.

The HIV League was founded in 2015 by Daniel Szymczyk, a 2014 graduate of Appalachian State University. Daniel is also a youth counselor who is heavily involved in a number of capacities in servicing the LGBTQ+ community and people living with HIV.

A few important things to note include the fact that the HIV League Scholarship is reportedly the only scholarship initiative of its kind and scholarship recipients are given the option to decline public recognition.

For more information on the HIV League Scholarship, visit http://www.hivleague.org/scholarship/.

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downloadJiell Richardson is a web designer/developer, fat yogi padawan, and blogger based in Washington, DC, USA.

Think Like a Hero : Do you share the same learning styles as your favorite superhero? Possibly!

Based on how this learning style inventory describes these seven different ways of learning, here is how some of your favorite heroes and heroine might be categorized.

Mighty-Morphin-PowerRangers

Visual or Spatial (learning with the help of imagery)

Spider-Man – In addition taking pictures for a living, Spidey spends a lot of time people watching from the top of New York’s skyscrapers. That’s a great way to snoop out criminals, locate kittens who may need rescuing…or, learn what Gwen Stacy’s favorite new restaurant is. 

 

Aural (learning with the help of music or sound)Mikeys pizzas

Michaelangelo – As the free-spirited and fun-loving brother of the Ninja Turtle bunch, Mikey’s fluidity and colorful personality meshes well with that of an aural learner. If Drake put out one of those 90s style math hip-hop albums, no question this ninja’s mom is buying it.

 

Verbal (if it’s written or spoken, you get it)

Hermione Granger – Harry and Ron would be completely lost without her. Many consider her twice the magic maker as The Boy Who Lived. Part of what made her such a smart and skilled witch was her genuine love of reading. Spell books, potion recipes, newspapers, you name it. She was always reading ahead, even to some professors irritation. Reading will forever be fundamental.

 

Physical or Kinesthetic (you’re a hands-on learner who probably can’t sit still)

Zack Taylor , the Black Ranger – Before that brief period when Zac Efron was a pop star, there was Zack, the original Black Ranger. He was famous for his saving folks, practicing martials arts with his buddy, Jason, and more importantly, his dance moves. He is what I like to call a “master of movement”. 

 

Solitary (you need some time to think it over…alone)

Batman – Obviously.

 

Social (brinCookg oooon the group work)

Natalie Cook – So what makes this Charlie’s Angel a social learner? She’s smart bubbly and is a real people person. One could bet that she was really into group work in school.

 

 

 

Logical or Mathematical (objective, calculating, by the book)

Blossom – You just wait until the Powerpuff Girls graduate from college, Reed Richards. Blossom might have the smarts to…well, at least intern for you while she’s working on her master’s. She is the “Commander and the Leader” of the trio and is usually the one resolving conflicts between her sisters, kicking butt, strategizing missions and following all the rules. That definitely takes a sharp, logical and objective mind.

Knowing your individual learning styles is useful in and out of the classroom. Learn more here.

 

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Jiell Richardson is a web designer/developer, fat yogi padawan, and blogger based in Washington, DC, USA.

Realness of Illness #BreastCancerAwarenessMonth

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which means one can expect issues and organizations surrounding the disease to take a front seat in terms of publicity this month. A couple days ago folks celebrated  #NoBraDay, in which I did not participate. A number of people opposed to the campaign/holiday for fairly sensible reasons, however my reason for opting out was simply a matter of physiology.

Today, I would like to call attention to other illnesses that have been more or less making waves as of late. Here are 5 diseases causing as much buzz as breast cancer:

#5 Epilepsy

I heard the term ‘epilepsy’ and ‘epileptic’ before, but I received my crash course on the disorder after my sister suffered a violent seizure in the middle of the night which scared the beans out of me and landed her in the hospital. According to the CDC, less than 2% of Americans suffer from epilepsy, however there are other more common conditions, such as stroke or severe head injury, that can lead to one having the disorder.

Epilepsy doesn’t get as much publicity as breast cancer and I can’t think at the top of my head of too many celebrities going on Ellen discussing it. Sadly, my last memory of hearing of epilepsy in the media was in the police footage of an infamous arrest that’s also gained some media attention.

#4 MRSA

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Photo by Cristian Baron

I remember there being a big MRSA scare when I was in high school. Made gym class a bit more awkward than it already had been. The slightest of itches warranted the DEEPEST of prayers. Good thing I was in Catholic school [insert comedy drum fill].

It looks like Lamar Odom isn’t the only athlete who’s landed himself in the hospital this week. Daniel Fells, New York Giants tight end, has been in ICU for almost a week and may leave the hospital without a foot due to his diagnosis of the infection. This recent case of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is calling attention to athlete’s vulnerability, but also just how easily anyone person can be infected no matter how clean and careful you may think you are.

#3 Lupus

In my twenties, I’ve been running into more and more women with lupus. This makes sense, since most people with lupus are women of color between the ages of 15 and 44. It was revealed that former Disney queen, Selena Gomez, was diagnosed with lupus after it was rumored that she had gone into chemotherapy.

POP
lupus.org

PSA, since we’re on the subject, lupus is an autoimmune disease, while cancer is the growth and spread of abnormal tissue. You’re welcome.

Other celebrities with the disease include: Lady Gaga, Toni Braxton and Michael Jackson.

#2 Gun Violence???

According University of Illinois Chicago’s Dr. Gary Slutkin, gun violence is an illness that is preventable. For more than a decade the epidemiologist has been researching and spread the message of a “cure for violence”. Given the constant heated debates surrounding the topic of gun control in the US, I think this interesting perspective on violence and gun use could either act as an objective breath of fresh air or the idea could just recycled be over and over for click-worthy headlines. Hey, I was successfully baited.

Regardless of your politics, I think most can agree that violence in general has surpassed ridiculous levels on the global scale of violent occurrences.

#1 Ebola

Oh, no! I didn’t forget. But I won’t hold it against you if you did. Just at the beginning of the “social activism through hashtagging” exploded into normality, I made the mistake once of posting the status “is Ebola still a thing?” to be fascetious. Bad idea. But I digress.

Just last year, the world, or at least US news outlets, were in a panic for fear of a spread of the Ebola virus. The good news? No new cases have been reported in any of the three countries affected the most by the virus as of last week!

It is still suggested that anyone leaving that area of Africa, particularly Liberia, should get a medical examination and be on the alert for any sign of symptoms. Ebola makes #1 on this list because it’s “still a thing” and if a case is ever reported again in the US, I am convinced that people will just melt. Nope. They are going to melt.

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Jiell Richardson is a web designer/developer, fat yogi padawan, and blogger based in Washington, DC, USA.