Test Suggests 'Black' Man Is Really Not

ByABC News
December 3, 2003, 12:55 PM

Dec. 28 -- Wayne Joseph, the principal of a big suburban high school in southern California, had an unequivocal sense of his black heritage, having written extensively about race in America.

But after seeing a TV story last April about a Florida company, DNA Print Genomics, which marketed an ancestry-by-DNA test, he began to wonder exactly how much of him was African, how much wasn't, and what else there might be in his genes.

"I sent away for their kit and received the kit, happened to swab both sides of my cheek and sent the swabs in," Joseph said.

A few weeks later, the results arrived at his comfortable Claremont, Calif., home.

"I just glanced at it, just a cursory glance initially didn't really notice it much," Joseph said. "Then, I went back to it, because all of a sudden it hit me exactly what I had read. And it read, 57 percent Indo-European, 39 percent Native American, 4 percent East Asian and 0 percent African.

After a lifetime as a black man, Wayne Joseph discovered he probably isn't black at all.

Complete Shock

"I kiddingly say, if I was 21 instead of 50, I'd be in therapy," Joseph said, "because when you define yourself one way and then at 50, there are results that say you're something else, it does rock your whole world.

It also rocked the world of Martin and Kenya, his kids from his first marriage to a black woman.

"Honestly, I didn't know what to say," Kenya said. "I was in complete shock."

Joseph asked his mother, Betty, if he was adopted.

"He is not adopted," she said. "Mother doesn't forget when she has a baby. And I had three babies. And he was one of them."

On both sides, the Joseph family is of Creole stock, which does not necessarily mean African ancestry. Yet, before DNA tests, in the segregated parishes of Louisiana they'd always defined themselves as black, or "colored" in the old-fashioned parlance, despite their light complexions.