After not receiving an email from the professor of genetics I mentioned in the last post in over 24 hours, I decided to forward mine and my friend’s inquiry about the mixed-race birth on to a few more professors in the Genetics Department of our University’s Med School late last night. (Like 2 AM late.)

One professor, Dr. Russ Altman, had a response waiting in my inbox before I even woke up.


Predicted? Yes? Good?

Now let’s see what the pro has to say.

First, Professor Altman defines what we called “black genes” as “genes derived from folks whose ancestors 15,000 years ago were all in Africa.” He also defines our “white genes” as “genes derived from ancestors 15,000 years ago in Europe.”

“First of all, I agree with you that there are really no “white” genes and “black” genes, but it does make sense to talk about the origin of genes.  All human genes eventually trace back to Africa about 150,000 years ago, and so ultimately you are right about no black/white genes.  However, the initial migration of humans around the globe from Africa was completed about 10-15K years ago, and so we can somewhat arbitrarily define African genes as genes derived from folks whose ancestors 15K years ago were all in Africa.  Similarly, we can define European genes (I prefer African-descent/European-desent to black/white) as genes derived from ancestors 15K years ago in Europe.

Then, he leads me on like every cute boy ever in the 7th grade…

“When the daughter and son get together to have a child, each of the 23 chromosomes on that child will mandatorily be made out of European and African descent genes, and so that child will be “50%” African and “50%” European and every chromosome will have a mixture of African/European descent genes. So in that case, there is no possibility of an all African-descent genome arising.”

…and then, in perfect accordance with the middle school analogy, crushes all my hopes and dreams by choosing my friend over me.

He concludes: “It is conceivable that the recombination of the genetic material … would result in chromosomes that are 100% of African origin [according to our definition of the term].”

HOWEVER, if that child meets another child (after appropriately growing up!) who is 50/50 African/European, it is conceivable (and now I am talking only conceivable–no pun intended–and nothing about likelihood, since the probability is roughly 0.0) that the recombination of the genetic material from the parents to create the DNA in the egg/sperm would result in chromosomes that are 100% of African origin (as defined by DNA sitting in Africa 15K years ago) for all 23 chromosomes that would then be passed to a child who would then have 100% African-origin DNA.”

Professor Altman, being the total G that he is, even included this scanned sketch for further explanation:

Such a Ggggg

Additionally, here is a screenshot of the entire email.

When I told Tennessee that he was right this morning, there were a lot of “f*ck yeah” and “that’s what I f*cking said”s thrown around. I suppose he earned that right, after being called racist and stupid for the past three days straight.
So even though now I am $5 poorer, I am plenty richer in the mind for all that I have learned from this experiment.
  1. If you have an academic question, email a few professors studying the field to which your question pertains. They love to talk about their life’s work, unsurprisingly.
  2. While it might not be correct to call them “black genes” and “white genes,” there are such things as genes deriving from African descent and genes deriving from European descent.
  3. If I have a baby with a half-white, half-asian man, I could have a child that looks like this
   or this
Science, you have once again blown my freaking mind.
Until next time,

Written by Catherine Goetze

Catherine Goetze Find me on social media! Facebook: Twitter: @catherinegoetze Instagram: @catherinegoetze SnapChat: @catherinegoetze Contact me:


  1. My second cousin was actually born to a black mother (my aunt) and white father, and as of now, if you see pictures of her, she looks completely “white”, or of European descent. We do have some European genomes floating around in our family, so it looks like the impossible happened (well not actually, her chromosomes are probably not 100% European descent…but for better or worse, she looks like it). Sounds like a cool proposition


  2. It’s actually a greatt and useful piece of info.
    I аm satisfied tthat you just shared tҺіѕ helpful informatіon wіth
    us. Please keep us iinformed lіke this. TҺanks for sharing.


So, whaddaya think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s