Well, after reviewing all of the suggestions you all made in the comment section *crickets*, I've decided to start my heritage search by taking a matrilineal DNA test. According to the AfricanAncestry.com website (and an article in the Washington Post), I can find out which African tribe (and thus coast) my mother's family is from. If only Luke Skywalker had this kind of access! I figure, this is a good place to start. The Dark Continent is no stranger to me...I've been to Egypt and Zimbabwe amongst other places. I'm giddy with anticipation! I have a feeling we may have some roots in the east coast (Somalia, Eritrea, etc) even though most Africans sent to the Americas originated on the west coast (Nigeria, etc). I'm wondering out loud just how accurate this will be. I'm interested in the actual science of it all. DNA indexing.
Before I drop too much science on you, I'll hold my thoughts until the testing kit comes in the mail. I'll type and swab at the same time. They have a patrilineal test as well, but a male relative has to take that one. I guess I'll have to recruit my dad. I'm sure he'll be thrilled to be taking part in what he'll surely think is nonsense. Maybe I'll trick him into drinking out of a Styrofoam cup and collecting it with rubber gloves like they do on the crime shows. Or I'll just ask him. Hey. The first way would have been far more clever but totally creepy in a violating-your-fourth-amendment-right-against-unauthorized-search-and-seizure kind of way. Sorry dad! The catch: they only tell you if you have European forefathers...not their countries of origin. My dad is German so we have that little problem solved. So, let's just buy one kit and see where that takes us, shall we?