23 and Asian Me: Part 1 of 3

23andMe Kit. It came in about a week.

23andMe Kit. It came in about a week.

DNA ancestry kits are more popular than ever due to their enticing (not guaranteed) “promises” of reporting one’s ancestry, history and health risks. I wonder what I am.

Okay. I know I’m Asian– but how Asian am I really?

So… I ordered a 23andMe DNA testing kit.

I know what some are going to say, “You just spent $200 to find out you’re Asian!” I know that part! But I’d also like to know anything else this kit might tell me…

Why Is There No Data for Asians!?

The Kit

The $199 Kit

I am curious and have searched for answers. Check out: 23andMe has a problem when it comes to ancestry reports for people of color by Euny Hong. While we’re known as The Model Minority– I think we’re also The Forgotten Minority. (For example, Asians are never “courted” by politicians. But let’s not get into politics). After all, Hong does point out it’s just poor marketing. We all have curiosities about our past, but as a whole, Asians have the highest income, therefore more “disposable income” to spend on expensive luxuries we don’t necessarily “need” such as ancestry tests.

“Asian-Americans have the highest household incomes of any ethnic group, and they like to buy stuff. If you can’t get more than 76 [Asians] to buy your product, you are probably not very good at running a business.”

– Euny Hong


The Kit

Hey 23andMe! You’re leaving cash on the table! This article was just published 3 months ago, and there still was no distinction between Asians. They don’t even test to distinguish Japanese from the rest of Asia– and they’re on a completely separate land mass. Don’t think, “Hey! She bought it anyway!” Searching my hardest– I found few Asians who wanted to see these results for themselves. The majority are just watching the YouTube videos or reading articles like this, thinking, “Hey! No one cares about me. It’s just not worth it.”

Asian VS South East Asian

Vietnamese is South East Asian, not just Asian– so I guess that’s a LITTLE more specific. However, also South East Asian: Thais, Indonesians, Filipinos, Cambodians, Laotians… and a few more tiny islands. Deciding whether or not $199 would be “worth it” for me, I did A LOT of research. YouTube videos of Asians discovering their ancestry showed them mostly as “Asian.” I am 99.9% sure I’ll be “Asian,” too. However, I haven’t found any recent reports from my fellow Asians– at least within the past year. Then again, I haven’t seen 23 and Me report they have improved their Health and Ancestry DNA testing procedures.

I’m a Woman

That’s XX chromosomes, if you’re wondering. So, when it comes to certain results, I can’t know if it came from my dad’s side or my mom’s side. I do have a brother who took this test years ago… if he ever does it again, I’ll be sure to check out his results.

I Have Records

I do have written family records that go back as far as early 17th century on my father’s side. The records go all the way back to a dead language. I am sure my family once had records that went even further back, but the events of The Vietnam War rendered them destroyed.

The Vietnamese language today is written in western characters because of the colonization of Vietnam by the French around the mid 1800s and in 1887, they took over Vietnam completely. The Chinese colonized Vietnam from 111 B.C. for 1000 years. So, I can’t be sure if I am 100% Vietnamese, or if I am a little Chinese. The tests do tell the difference between Asian (includes Chinese) and South East Asian (includes Vietnamese)… so we’ll see.

I have 0 records on my mother’s side. However, I know that if I find something funky– maybe I’m .000000001% European or something– it could possibly have come from her side family. Her family was originally from The North. She was born in The South after my grandparents had moved to Bien Hoa when the country split in two after the first Indochhina War and the communists controlled The North.

My Name

Truong: Many Asians have similar surnames such as Nguyen or Tran. This is because of the dynasties, in which the emperors forced all in the village to change their last name to that of their emperor’s. Truong is originally from the Chinese surname Zhang (or Chang)– so my family was probably once Chinese– with the third most common Chinese last name of all time.

Vu: My mother’s surname. It is one of the 12 most common Vietnamese surnames. I have found no ties to… well… anything on my mom’s side.

23 and Asian Me: Part 2



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