Jamarlin talks to Dr. Gina Paige about African Ancestry, the company that used DNA to pioneer a new way of tracing African lineages and helped 500,000+ people reconnect with their roots. They discuss whether acquiring a knowledge of self and reconnecting with the motherland is the key to scaling African-American cultural optimization and economic empowerment in America. They also discuss whether folks with resources can be “about that life” with no curiosity to visit the motherland.
This is a full transcript of the conversation which has been lightly edited for clarity.
Jamarlin Martin: Today we have Dr. Gina Paige, the co-founder of African Ancestry. Welcome to the show.
Dr. Gina Paige: Thank you. I’m looking forward to the conversation.
Jamarlin Martin: You’re doing amazing things with African Ancestry. Can you give our audience a little background on where you come from and how did you get to the idea of scaling this platform that’s been so beneficial to our community?
Dr. Gina Paige: Well, the idea for our company was started by my co-founder, Dr Rick Kittles, and it came out of his personal desire to know where he was from, and as a geneticist, part of his research, he dedicated to compiling a database of African lineages to answer the question for himself. In terms of scaling the idea into a business, he was part of the New York African Burial Ground project as a member of the team from Howard University that went up to lower Manhattan to identify the ancestry of the bones. And when the community found out that it was possible, they inundated with requests to get that same type of information for themselves. So it was a classic case of supply and demand. The community created the demand and so we in response created the company to provide the answers.
Jamarlin Martin: Growing up, how conscious were you? Let’s say, take it back to when you were a teenager in your household.
Dr. Gina Paige: How do you measure consciousness? I was very conscious. I have always been conscious. I grew up in Washington D.C. In the 70s, so you couldn’t help but be conscious of being a black person, being a black girl, a black woman. And so consciousness is part of my DNA. I didn’t ever become conscious. I just always have been.
Jamarlin Martin: Tor this business platform though. There’s something that fits into what you were already passionate about in terms of how you felt about yourself and how do we solve bigger problems in our community.
Dr. Gina Paige: Well, I definitely saw this business as an opportunity to use my skillset that I developed through a corporate marketing career to market a product that has never existed before to a group of people I’m passionate about. So that was my approach to African Ancestry and over the past 15 years, of course, my proficiency in Africa and many things African has increased significantly. And as I’ve seen the interest by our community grow, so too has my personal passion for providing this information for the people who want it.
Jamarlin Martin: It’s been reported that Nigerian Americans are the most educated ethnic group in the United States out of all groups. When you look at the discrepancies on standardized test scores, economic outcomes, and in other metrics, how much of this could be explained by, look, you’re comparing different groups, but one group does not have adequate cultural IQ. One group does not know what country they originate from. They don’t have any kind of legacy that goes past slavery in terms of how a lot of us think, and what we learn when you compare groups, the black man and woman here in America does not have anything to reference. And you’re competing against Chinese American, Nigerian Americans, Indian, East Indian Americans. And these people have kind of a cultural IQ, but we come to the table which slavery, a lot of us, and being raised in a ghetto culture, but we lack cultural IQ when we compare ourselves to other groups. Could that explain a lot of the discrepancy and outcomes here in the United States?
Dr. Gina Paige: I don’t think so. I don’t think it explains, in my opinion, it doesn’t explain a lot. I think we do have a cultural IQ. It just doesn’t include our ancestry. We definitely have a cultural IQ as African-Americans. I think that there are so many other factors that affect our ability to perform on standardized testing. But I agree with you in one sense that we don’t know who we are, and not knowing who you are impacts so many aspects of your life. But I wouldn’t pinpoint it to standardized tests.
Jamarlin Martin: In my mind, we definitely have a cultural IQ, however, it’s lower because we cannot refer back before slavery with the cohesive cultural narrative. And I believe this is where a lot of folks get their power, particularly when you’re faced with the structural inequities in the United States. Other groups come here with this cultural IQ and power, and they’re able to, to outperform. And I think the scientists and the researchers have not invested enough time in looking at this and say, ‘hey, we don’t know who we are’. We need to be able to reconnect back to Africa. I believe if our people are ever going to rise up to do it at scale where you don’t just have your Colin Powells and a few entertainers and a few Jay-Z’s or whatever. For our people to rise at scale, we have to reconnect with Africa and we have to elevate our cultural IQ. It’s not just the white folks in America changing thing.
Dr. Gina Paige: Well, I agree. I think maybe my sticking point with what you’re saying is simply the definition of cultural IQ, but when you put it that way, I agree with you. Yes.
Jamarlin Martin: I’ve seen reports where certain DNA testing platforms, they came out with new information that said that what they’ve been doing is wrong and they have to adjust some things. And so the customer is like, ‘Hey, I thought I was from Nigeria and now the new update is pushing me to Cameroon’. What’s the story? Can you explain some of the accuracy issues in in the market for DNA testing?
Dr. Gina Paige: So the type of tests that you’re talking about is different from the type of test that we offer. The type of test that you’re talking about is called an admixture test. And if you think about your family tree as a series of branches, you have all these different branches of your family tree. Well, that’s a genetic family tree. So there are all these people throughout your family history that make up who you are. And those tests look at DNA that is a combination of all of those people, and then segments out ancestry in terms of percentages. So they’ll say overall you’re 75 percent African, 25 percent European. Then within that Africanness, that 75 percent African, they have a database that ranges anywhere from 600 to 1400 African lineages, African DNA samples that they compare yours to, to say some percentage of your 75 percent is from this region in Africa. Some percentages from that region and that region, that region and so on. That information out box is limited because they’re only comparing you to fewer then 1500 African samples for the entire continent of Africa. First of all, pretty much black folks get all the regions. They get all the West African regions. So they didn’t just get Nigeria, they got Nigeria for some percentage, they’ve gotten Cameroon/Congo for another percentage. Do you see what I’m saying? All they really were telling you was that you’re West African. And so if you put all of your identity in these loose buckets, you’re bound to be disappointed because it’s not specific enough to tell you something about yourself. Now the database size has changed. So ancestry.com, for example, went from having 464 African samples to 1,395 samples. So if you increase the size of your database, then of course the matching is gonna change because you have more samples to compare to. But it’s still a pitifully low number of samples. I mean 1,395 people for the whole continent isn’t informative. So science is not static. I didn’t answer your question directly. Science is not static. Science is constantly evolving. So if the company you use increases or decreases the size of their database, then your analysis will change. But you’re still West African.
Jamarlin Martin: Is there a confidence level where if a test comes back with your platform or another platform, what’s the range of confidence levels among the leading players where the test comes back and says, 80 percent Nigeria, Yoruba or something like that.
Dr. Gina Paige: They don’t say 80 percent Nigeria, Yoruba, they can’t get that specific.
Jamarlin Martin: They’re not given percentages?
Dr. Gina Paige: No, they’re given percentages, but they’re not getting that specific. They’re saying 80 percent Nigeria region. What does that mean? They don’t get specific to Yoruba or Ebo or Fulani or Hausa. So anyway, I don’t know what the other companies’ confidence levels are. I can tell you what ours are. Our confidence level is 95 percent. We have a plus or minus five percent margin of error, five point margin of error. And we don’t call a match unless we see at least a 98.6 percent similarity. If you, if your sample is not at least 98.6 percent the same as some samples in our database, then we won’t call a match. And 85 percent of our matches are identical.
Jamarlin Martin: Okay, got it.
Dr. Gina Paige: And we do get to the ethnic group level, so we would say Mandinka from Senegal or Mende from Sierra Leone.
Jamarlin Martin: Okay, that’s really good to hear that your confidence level is 98 percent. And in the marketing materials you mention that you use black geneticists, scientists. Can you talk a little bit about that philosophy in terms of your team, in terms of, for this particular platform we have to stick with black folks?
Dr. Gina Paige: Black folks created our company. I’m black, Dr. Kittles is black and we created this company to tell black people where we’re from. So it only stands to reason that we would. Black businesses employ black people. We’re the only company that has African-American geneticists on the team. There are plenty of African-American geneticists that could participate in this type of analysis across the industry, but for some reason were the only ones that I’ve chosen that. And for us it’s important because we’re about self determination and we don’t have to look outside of our community for the resources that we need to thrive. We have them all here within our own community.
Jamarlin Martin: Okay. And what do you see to the black business owner who says, hey, to be competitive with some of the, the higher resourced businesses that were competing with, including in terms of doing business where on people that a lot of these competitors have bigger pockets, we could disadvantage ourselves if we limit our recruiting to only the community where hey, you know, we need the opportunity to hire the best outright. What would you say to that point of view?
Dr. Gina Paige: Well I would say that we have hired the best. So going outside of the community doesn’t mean that you’re hiring the best, and I think in order to be properly resourced, it doesn’t mean you have to have a certain type of person working for you. Being properly resourced means that you have found capital, from a competition standpoint, you’ve found capital that you can use to grow your business. And that can come from any color person. So I don’t think your human resources are limited because you’ve chosen to employ black people.
Jamarlin Martin: Exclusively.
Dr. Gina Paige: All the other companies hire exclusively pretty much the people that look like them. So there’s no limitations to having a black staff. Zero. Zilch. None.
Jamarlin Martin: I remember having lunch with a black magazine executive, and he criticized Oprah. This was before Oprah became a billionaire, but he didn’t like the fact that Oprah’s CFO and some of the executive team with Oprah’s company were white, and he thought that Oprah needed to hire more black folks. So he was very critical of Oprah. Of course, since then, Oprah has really increased her wealth while I believe doing good. But would you critique Oprah for having, for example, 70, 80 percent white folks working for her.
Dr. Gina Paige: No, I would not critique Oprah, but Oprah has done what works for Oprah and each business person has to do what works for them. That has not been my approach as a business person. You have to do what works for you and for your business.
Jamarlin Martin: In terms of the impact of African-American kids learning about their lineage to Western Africa. Has there been any kind of case studies or is there any data that quantifies the impact where when a black child is able to connect to Africa early from a lineage standpoint, possibly using your tests, does this have any impact on anything?
Dr. Gina Paige: We haven’t conducted any research and I’m not aware of any research that has been conducted, but anecdotally I can tell you that it certainly has an impact, particularly for our kids that are educated in multicultural environments. You alluded to this earlier, our kids are educated in environments where they don’t learn anything positive about Africa. They don’t learn their own personal connections to Africa, yet they participate in ancestry days and international days with their classmates and friends who know exactly where they’re from. And so we have seen anecdotally that when our kids know where they’re from, they feel a sense of pride and belonging that they didn’t have prior to getting that information. They do things like start to do their class or school projects on the country that they share ancestry with or the people, and they can celebrate those ancestries along with their friends celebrating, and the way that they view themselves is transformed in a positive way. But it’s all anecdotal.
Jamarlin Martin: I remember reading something about Colin Powell, and he was saying that African-Americans need to get off this Africa stuff. Forget about Africa. We’re Americans no, in so many words. What are your thoughts on that? It’s time to move forward, and Africa is not really a part of moving forward.
Dr. Gina Paige: China doesn’t think so. Europe doesn’t think so. The whole world is in Africa for its resources. So, I don’t think that that’s true, that the way forward is not related to Africa. I believe that you can’t know who you are unless you know where you’re from. And so regardless of what you do with the information, I think it’s important from a psychological standpoint to at least have the information, and we have seen countless people throughout the longevity of African Ancestry who do amazing things as a result of knowing where they’re from in Africa. They travel, they invest, they lobby congress on behalf of issues that affect their country of ancestry. They learn languages. They develop relationships with those people living here in the cities and towns in the United States. They share the information with family reunions. They do so many different things. They start philanthropic organizations. They donate. They start businesses. So I would disagree strongly with that statement.
Jamarlin Martin: I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the folks that our people worship and recognize in terms of Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad, Muhammad Ali, that the champions that rise within our community, they seem to have this high cultural IQ in terms of, ‘hey, I got to go deeper in my history’, and then there’s this confidence boost that I personally really to, where in LA, once I tapped into a knowledge of self and I started looking at African history and an alternative to what’s being taught and what other kids believe, the confidence boost that I received at 17 just put me on a confidence level that made me feel that I could go out there in the world and do whatever, and I did not have this without a knowledge of self.
Dr. Gina Paige: Even if you wanted to accept that your history started with enslavement of African people in the United States. Let’s just say hypothetically, you were fine with that. That means you descend from a group of people that is resilient, that is industrious, that created a nation. So many things can be said just if you want to start there. So it’s how you look at things. You can say ‘I’m the descendant of slaves’, which you really aren’t, but you can say that, but then what does that really mean? And there’s a lot of positiveness that comes out of that. But then when you go across the Atlantic and you go back to where those enslaved people were taken from, and you learn about those cultures, you can’t help but have the reaction that you had when you were 17 because you learn that you come from people who created every damn thing there is. You come from the standard and everything else is a derivative of the standard.
Jamarlin Martin: Have you been to the point of no return in Ghana? Have you been to some of the dungeons?
Dr. Gina Paige: Yes.
Jamarlin Martin: And were you able to smell the stench that still remains in some of the dungeons in terms of the brutal conditions that our people lived through? Were you able to smell it?
Dr. Gina Paige: That whole experience… I’ve been through those particular dungeons twice. And that whole experience is a sensory overload for every sense. What you see, what you hear, what you can touch, what you can smell, it’s very overwhelming. It’s quite an experience.
Jamarlin Martin: Did you before you went on your trip that the smell could go on for hundreds of years, meaning, it’s so bad.
Dr. Gina Paige: No. I don’t think I focused on the smell and that wasn’t my first. When I was in college, I lived in Dakar, Senegal, and so I had been to Goree Island, which is a similar slave dungeon and port in Senegal. So the Ghana experience wasn’t my first experience, but it was equally as impactful I think is when I was 18.
Jamarlin Martin: I went to Morehouse and Atlanta and I was around a lot of conscious folks where we would debate issues in the community, African history, and I had a popular term at that time which was Afrocentric, so this goes back to around 1998 to 2000, and a lot of students that at least I knew, they would bang Africa, they would bang Afrocentric in terms of this is what I’m representing. But going into their thirties after college, they wouldn’t go to anywhere in Africa. They wouldn’t go to Western Africa, but they would bang Afrocentricity really hard in the United States, but there wasn’t a drive to spend $500 or $1000 on a plane ticket to maybe go to Ghana. What are your thoughts on, can you really be about that life in terms of really knowing about your people, championing your people without physically kind of even having the curiosity and using some of your resources to go back home.
Dr. Gina Paige: I think you can because the reality is everybody can’t afford to go back though.
Jamarlin Martin: These people drive a Mercedes. They can afford to go back. These people have good jobs and, ‘Hey, I’m Afrocentric to death’, but I don’t want to go back.
Dr. Gina Paige: I see what you’re saying. They claim Afrocentricity…
Jamarlin Martin: But that don’t have the curiosity to go back.
Dr. Gina Paige: Well. Can you be about that life and not go? I think you can be about that life and not go.
Jamarlin Martin: It just doesn’t sound good.
Dr. Gina Paige: I would like to see, obviously, people travel to Africa and any part of Africa to be quite honest. But I think West Africa should be your first trip or Egypt.
Jamarlin Martin: Even considering some of the security concerns with Egypt? That’s been on my bucket list for a while, but there’s been some security risk elevation.
Dr. Gina Paige: I traveled to Egypt last year, 2017, with Anthony Browder…
Jamarlin Martin: Actually, that’s one of the books I read in high school, ‘Nile Valley Contribution to Civilization’, one of my favorites.
Dr. Gina Paige: Exactly. And he does a study tour to Egypt every year for two weeks and has never once in the history of 30 or so study tours had a security problem. So, I think that when you hear about those types of warnings, there’s often something deeper than that that has nothing to do with your physical safety when you’re traveling.
Jamarlin Martin: At the time, it wasn’t always like this, but I believe maybe five or so years ago, Western hotels were being targeted in terrorists attacks. So let’s talk about the business. What’s your approach to marketing and scaling the business in terms of getting more consumers to come onto the platform?
Dr. Gina Paige: So our approach is pretty grassroots. We do a lot of traveling and speaking, presentations in the community with different organizations in the community. We participate in expos and large events like that to help raise awareness. We do a fair amount of advertising through digital channels, so Facebook and Google, but word of mouth has been our strongest marketing vehicle. People, once they have their own African Ancestry experience, they then become a broadcast tower for their friends, families and others by sharing their experience, and we’re a people that often relies on somebody else having done it first to motivate us to do it. And so that word of mouth strategy has worked very well for us over the past 15 years. But we are self-funded, Dr Kittles and I own the company, we’ve never taken any outside investment.
Jamarlin Martin: Congratulations.
Dr. Gina Paige: Thank you. So we rely on our sales to fund our marketing. And so when you don’t see us and you haven’t seen us on television, running ad after ad, those ads add up and it costs millions of dollars to advertise at the level that our competitors do. We just simply aren’t in a position to do that, but we aren’t trying to reach the masses either. We serve a niche consumer with a niche product and so we have a different type of advertising strategy.
Jamarlin Martin: Do you have unique coupon codes where, for example, you can partner with the media platform and then they’ll get a special coupon code where they could track how many sales comes across the website. You do that?
Dr. Gina Paige: Yes. And we created one for your listeners.
Jamarlin Martin: Okay, great. What’s your thinking on growing the platform from here? What’s the next big step in scaling the platform?
Dr. Gina Paige: In terms of scaling the number of customers that we can reach? I think it’s more advertising. It’s more targeted types of events where we can reach large numbers of people. We have some campaigns in development for 2019 that will better leverage the power of social media. And then in terms of what we can offer the community, the people who take our tests, health is the horizon. We use DNA to help you with your psychological wellbeing through knowledge of self through ancestry. But there are so many other aspects of our wellbeing, physical wellbeing that are impacted by our DNA and we have the opportunity to be able to give you more of that information as well in the future.
Jamarlin Martin: Do you see any geographical disparities where in particular states you get more customers? Is there a couple of states that really kind of make up a lot of your sales?
Dr. Gina Paige: Yeah, of course. That’s another opportunity too beyond the United States, when you talked about how we could scale, is developing partnerships with people in other countries because black people were taken from Africa to all over the world, not just here. But anyway, in terms of the states that we see the most participation from, its consistent with us being a black owned company that targets black people. So you know, Chicago, Atlanta, D.C., Philly, Houston and Dallas, Oakland, LA.
Jamarlin Martin: There’s no city that you can point you where you have the black numbers by those guys are just so lost? We don’t see you guys buying the kit.
Dr. Gina Paige: No, no, I don’t see any of those.
Jamarlin Martin: One of the things I thought about was, should the government be paying for these tests and sending you checks? Look you guys robbed this from us. Why do we have to go out and pay hundreds of dollars for something that should’ve been a given for us that we don’t know? And that mystery is your responsibility, the government should be funding a test for every African-American to reconnect.
Dr. Gina Paige: Yeah, that’s the school of thought for sure.
Jamarlin Martin: Have you pursued that?
Dr. Gina Paige: No. We haven’t pursued asking the government to pay for the tests for people. I think that’s a fine line, right? I’m a proponent of reparations. Okay. And I could see where ancestry testing is an element of reparations, but the other side of that is today, particularly, our community is at an all time high in terms of our level of skepticism about how our genetic material is being handled. So me as a business person that deals with genetics, I don’t want an association with the government that’s gonna then negatively impact my credibility with the customer. Because the same people who have said the government should pay for this, some of them are the people who say, I don’t want the government to have, I’m not going to take your tests because I don’t want the government to have access to my DNA.
Jamarlin Martin: That’s a very good point. Is this some type of a setup?
Dr. Gina Paige: We’ll just stay away from the government, if they decide that they want to do the right thing and give everybody money so that they can buy a test or whatever. But we’re not partnering with you all of a sudden. It’s a no win situation.
Jamarlin Martin: You mentioned personally that you support reparations. How would that work? What would that look like?
Dr. Gina Paige: I wasn’t prepared for this conversation on this podcast.
Jamarlin Martin: It’s called Go Hard or Go Home?
Dr. Gina Paige: There are experts out there, there are people like Dr Raymond Winbush at Morgan State who has written a book, ‘Belinda’s Petition’. In fact, I was just at an event last week and representative Sheila Jackson Lee talked about the idea of reparations, the bill that she helped introduce many years ago, that has not been adopted around reparations. So I would be doing those experts a disservice if I came out half-cocked with a plan, but the United States has a history of giving reparations. We need ours.
Jamarlin Martin: But at a high level though, do you think it would be like a mainly a cash thing, or what would it look like in terms of what forms?
Dr. Gina Paige: It could look like education. It could look like land ownership. There’s so many ways that it could look. I haven’t given it that much thought to have a plan in mind.
Jamarlin Martin: A Nation of Islam minister in the nineties would say, ‘hey, we got to be careful with reparations because some of y’all out there, if the government starts cutting checks, if we haven’t really reconnected with ourselves and we don’t have a knowledge of self, a lot of that money in reparations is going to go to waste because a lot of you guys are going to go buy jewelry and do a lot of frivolous things with the reparations money’. Would you discount that point of view that psychologically the cultural awareness in the community, we need to do something there before you would get value from the government, or are the people ready now, let the checks start printing?
Dr. Gina Paige: I think we do need to have a strategy and a plan and I think reparations aside, we need to be better. We have to have better fiscal responsibility. We have to have better educational responsibility. We need to have better health and wellness responsibility. I think the onus is on us to be better in all of those areas, regardless of reparations. And I think that we have a long way to go collectively. There isn’t enough black economic empowerment right now. We need more black economic empowerment. So I definitely agree with that. The flip side of that is when you give somebody something, you shouldn’t dictate what they do with it. If it’s truly a gift, then you have to let people do with the gift what they want. And so I don’t feel comfortable telling people what to do.
Jamarlin Martin: This has to use towards putting restrictions on it…
Dr. Gina Paige: Saying that black people shouldn’t get the money because they’re not gonna know how to spend it. That’s what I have an issue with. If everyone deserves the money, then they should get their money and it’s not up to us to decide how they spend it.
Jamarlin Martin: Yeah. I do think that we need to take our best scholars, economists, and thought leaders in the community and think about if we were to push for reparations and get reparations, what’s the best way to maximize the impact. It has to be strategic reparations. I do think we would lose a lot of value if everybody just got checks or just cash coming in.
Dr. Gina Paige: Of course. And I agree with you, I’m just saying if that was what we got, we can’t say these people shouldn’t get it because they don’t know how to spend it. I agree with you.
Jamarlin Martin: On that front in terms of we need to raise the awareness and the economic empowerment in the community, have you seen any impact on your business with MAGA? Let me explain. Obama gets elected twice and from my perspective, you had a lot of negroes saying we’re post-racial, America is moving beyond race. Look what America did in terms of putting Michelle and Barack in the White House. We’re making a lot of progress and this is now a post-racial America. So a lot of our people started buying into that this country is making so much progress and it’s really about class. Actually negroes started saying at Morehouse that it’s less about race and more about class. But Trump comes in, he’s banging MAGA and he slaps those post-racial people in the face and says, ‘Nah, you guys got it wrong’. Have you seen an impact of Trumpism where people are getting more political now, people have recognized that this country is not making a lot of gains in a lot of areas in terms of that racist white supremacist psychology that’s institutionalizes across various industries, that this country is not going as far as some of the people think. And so, I would think because I see people now, they want to get political. Trump is there. They start recognizing things that have been there, but now I’m waking up because of Trump. Have you seen any waking up in your business in terms of, ‘hey, I need to order a kit’?
Dr. Gina Paige: That’s really hard to measure. If I look at our volume in 2017, it’s flat to 2016, so his first year in office, we didn’t see any increase in our business. Where we did see a tremendous impact was with the film ‘Black Panther’ and I think you can argue that the timing of the film ‘Black Panther’ underscored its impact. So I don’t think you can completely negate the Trump effect, but we didn’t see it in year one in any demonstrable way.
Jamarlin Martin: In your personal life, have you seen more consciousness since Trump got into office where now folks want to speak up a little louder about issues that have always been present because Trump has kind of brought things to the surface.
Dr. Gina Paige: Well, in my personal life, people speak up all the time, but yes, I do. I do think that I’ve seen an up tick in awareness and consciousness since the Trump administration for sure. Yeah. If you just look at the women’s march and some of these national movements that we’ve seen and the participation that we have in those movements, I think that’s an obvious answer to your question. And I think people can only take so much.
Jamarlin Martin: Would you agree if Hillary Clinton won, you’ll get some of the kind of Obama regime stuff, you make some progress in some areas, but the people on the bottom, the people who have to face institutionalized racism every single day, the needle wasn’t going to move if you just got another Democrat, an Obama-like president and that, because Trump gets into office and he goes hard and he bangs hard for his side, he bangs hard for white supremacy, now you start opening up the opportunity to possibly really move the needle the other way, where a lot of the stuff that’s been hidden comes to the surface in terms of how racist and white supremacist this country really is. Some people needed to see that half of the country will back a white supremacist agenda and that now that this stuff is coming to the surface, it’s not hidden, it doesn’t stay in Baltimore, it doesn’t stay in Chicago, it doesn’t stay in Compton in terms of our point of view on this system in America, that now you bring this sickness into the mainstream in terms of how racist America is, now you open up faster change, possibly more radical change that over the long-term MAGA and Trump could be a good thing for the country in terms of pushing this stuff to the surface? Do you buy into that?
Dr. Gina Paige: I think it’s going to get worse. I think it has to get worse before it gets better. What you’ve said is true and, and things are now more visible, but the visibility isn’t going to make it change, I don’t think. I don’t know that there’s a whole lot that the oppressed people can do to eradicate a white supremacist agenda. I’m just not sure.
Jamarlin Martin: You don’t think it would be much difference either way, it’s most likely Trump coming to power will make it worse long term.
Dr. Gina Paige: I think things have to get worse before we will really rise up and try make a change.
Jamarlin Martin: And when you say rise up, what would that look like? What would be the best case scenario where, for example, Marcus Garvey said, ‘These folks are not changing. There’s no freedom and justice and equality in the United States, I’m just gonna keep it real 100 with you, we need to go back home’. And a lot of people rejected that. Elijah Muhammad came and Malcolm X came for a period and said, ‘Look, I’m gonna, keep it 100 with you. Don’t be expecting a lot of stuff to change in America. This country is so sick. There is no future for us here that these folks, we’re not betting, we’re not going to speculate, we’re not going to gamble that these people are gonna turn into decent human beings’. And a lot of the masses rejected that messaging. And so now you have folks saying, ‘Hey, why are we getting shot? Hey, why are we getting discriminated against? Why are we doing all this stuff?’ What’s the best strategic outcome that could happen for black folks in America?
Dr. Gina Paige: Well, everybody’s not going to leave, so we have to come up with a way of living where we are that works for us. And I think self-determination is at the foundation of that.
Jamarlin Martin: Would that include possibly opening up dual citizenship in Western Africa?
Dr. Gina Paige: Well, I think self-determination has a firm footing here. So it goes back to educating our children, our community, having our own businesses, supporting our own businesses, creating what we need for ourselves, doing it ourselves. And then I think there’s another leg which is why African Ancestry.com exists. We exist to transform the way we view ourselves as black people and the way we view Africa, because that is our home. We are among the best and brightest of Africa. We can’t separate ourselves from that and they want us there too. African countries are asking us to come home, and so I think we have that responsibility to you. You can go home and not have citizenship. I don’t think we need to get hung up on whether or not a country’s offering citizenship, but we can play a role here in our communities and we can play a role there in our communities, and when we do that, I think will build enough wealth so that we can sustain this way of living that works for us.
Jamarlin Martin: What do you have to say to this? When I was growing up and even in college, folks…
Dr. Gina Paige: You sound like an old man. For anybody who has not seen him, he is not an old man. He keeps going, when I was growing up in the 1990s. I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
Jamarlin Martin: So growing up and in college, people would tell me, Africans don’t like us. Right? And so when I went to Ghana and I traveled to Nigeria and I traveled to Mozambique and South Africa, I didn’t see anything that confirmed that. What negroes were telling me here in the United States is that, hey, when you go to Africa, they’re not gonna like it, they don’t like us, but a lot of these people have never invested $500 for a ticket to go back home. And when I went into the communities and the villages and the cities as what you’re saying, those folks showed me a massive amount of love, more love than I would probably get into going back to Watts or the south side of Chicago or Baltimore. There was a lot of love seeing their brother come home. That was my personal experience. What do you have to say about that notion that they don’t like us?
Dr. Gina Paige: I have to say that colonization is real and slavery worked. And the whole purpose was to disconnect us from our base. Right? Disconnect us from our roots. So just as we’ve been colonized to believe these negative things about ourselves. We’ve been taught to believe negative things about Africa and Africans and how they view us. On that side of the Atlantic, they too have been colonized and they’ve been colonized to believe negative things about us.
Jamarlin Martin: That’s a good point.
Dr. Gina Paige: And for someone to say that Africans don’t like us, they’re just a victim of the system controlling what and how they think. And it’s hogwash. That’s what I think, it’s hogwash. There’s always gonna be people anywhere who don’t like you, but that has nothing to do with an entire group, country, continent full of people. I have never had that experience.
Jamarlin Martin: In terms of your personal travel, you can confirm.
Dr. Gina Paige: And I’ve never had it in my business travel either. We interact with Africans and African communities regularly and they are just as excited about being connected with us as we are about being connected with them. And it takes some learning and it takes some getting to know each other and it takes some dispelling of negative stereotypes. But that’s what happens when you meet new folks. I think that’s all hogwash and t’s just there to perpetuate a division that doesn’t need to exist.
Jamarlin Martin: Special thanks to Dr. Gina Page. You want to be sure to check out AfricanAncestry.com. Do you want to share a little bit about what you’re offering right now to customers?
Dr. Gina Paige: Yes. So you asked earlier about a coupon code and we created a promotional code for Moguldom. So if you go to http://africanancestry.com and order a test kit, you’ll get $25 off of your test kit with the code Moguldom.
Jamarlin Martin: Thank you very much. Let’s GHOGH!