A new study by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has found that white supremacists have been using genetic testing kits in an effort to prove that they have so-called “racial purity.”
But they’re often disappointed to learn that they aren’t, in fact, fully white.
According to UCLA sociologists Aaron Panofsky and Joan Donovan, white supremacists on the online forum Stormfront have been testing themselves using tools such as Ancestry.com and 23andMe. The Stormfront group was created in 1995 by Don Black, a member of the Ku Klux Klan.
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The sociologists studied more than 3,000 posts on the forum over a decade that discussed genetic testing, and found that many supremacists were shocked to learn they had African or Middle Eastern heritage. The results were revealed at an American Sociological Association meeting in Montreal this week.
The study noted that the forum’s senior moderator, John Law, defines being white as “non-Jewish people of wholly European descent. No exceptions.” Members of the group often spend time debating what being white means.
That’s why many were on the defensive when they found that they weren’t 100 per cent European, or “white,” and disputed the findings. Panofsky added that some disregarded the results, saying they knew themselves better than a DNA test.
“My advice is to trust your own family tree geneaology research and what your grandparents have told you, before trusting a DNA test,” one user wrote on the forum after receiving what the study describes as “bad news.”
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The researchers observed “shaming and discrediting of individuals” who were deemed “non-white” following the tests.
While the study has been underway for years, it holds more resonance in the aftermath of the Charlottesville, Va. protests.
Ancestry.com responded to the study, saying that they were “horrified by the tragic events” in Virginia.
“To be clear, we are against any use of our product in an attempt to promote divisiveness or justify twisted ideologies,” the company said in a statement to the New York Post.
“People looking to use our services to prove they are ethnically ‘pure’ are going to be deeply disappointed. We encourage them to take their business elsewhere.”