Prince Ea Uses DNA to Rethink Concepts of Race

04/25/2017 11:10 am ET Updated Apr 25, 2017

Prince Ea is a familiar face for anyone with a newsfeed. His messages of compassion in the form of content-heavy spoken word poetry has earned him global recognition as an authority in mindfulness, peace, and co-existence. I interviewed him years ago about one of his first socially-minded short film projects, and caught up with him again recently to discuss his latest project surrounding race. The Poetry of DNA is a video featuring the results of his genealogical DNA test weaved through a spoken word monologue about the ideas we have formed about race. Like many participants, Prince Ea was surprised to find out about his genealogy, and hopes to convey the scientific fact that everyone is mixed and no one can be put in a box. “We're all mixed,” he explains. “These social constructs are just that. And science will bring us closer to the facts.”

So this is the empirical study that could in fact prove that race is merely a social construct?

“A lot of the concepts that we have accepted, eaten, digested, and started to express outwardly are mere social constructs. Now, I am absolutely not denying racism. Ideas pertaining to race can be a social construct, while racism is a social reality. The biggest problem in America right now. The focus of this message is about how much of our perception on race is merely an idea with no scientific backing. When we do the DNA tests on ourselves, It can show us a little bit about who we are and how close we are to each other, instead of how far we believe we are separated.”

Would you say you are actively targeting racists and bigots with this message?

“I don't forcefeed. My approach is a relaxed dialogue, for the most part. Racist people may not always listen, but I like to plant seeds. One of my favorite quotes from Zig Ziglar goes: "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. But you can put salt in the horse's hay and make him thirsty”.”

You can't exist on the internet without criticism, in any direction. Prince Ea has stirred up a number of humans who are critical of his message. His "I Am Not Black" video elicited some backlash for appearing to deny or dilute racism in the 21st century, and his video about depression garnered criticism for contributing to the stigmas of mental illnesses and their invalidity.

"I have plans to do two more videos on depression," he notes. "The first one will expand on the concepts I presented in the first video, and then a second one with practical ideas to help with depression. "

Is the first video your way of addressing your critics and expanding on points that were potentially misunderstood?

"Partially, yes. I've learned from my criticisms that I have to be extremely careful with the words I choose, and mindful of the fact that semantics play a role. My intention was to never dismiss depression as non-clinical. There is research to support the idea of self-talk and how semantic exercises like saying "I have depression" instead of "I am depressed" can be powerful. Everything I back comes from a place of empirical research, not just concepts and ideas.”

So what came from learning about your DNA? Did you have questions for your family? What surprised you?

“Finding out I was 13% British was interesting, I didn’t expect that. In terms of my family, I’ve actually gone one step beyond the DNA test and have had my family history examined by ancestral experts. The results are going to be revealed to me during a Facebook Live event in May. Stay tuned!”

In consideration of this concept, and being naturally curious about disasters, I decided to ask Prince Ea what his thoughts were on the controversial concept of transracialism. initially brought to the attention of the collective by she who shall remain nameless. He looked away in disinterest, which simultaneously pleased me and made me instantly regret asking the question. After a moment of contemplation, he shook his head, smiled and said:

"It sounds like she needs to take a DNA test."

Explore The Poetry of DNA below:

Learn more about Prince Ea’s experience with MyHeritage DNA testing here!

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