Melanin theory

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Melanin theory is a pseudoscientific theory[1][2] based on the supposed physical properties of melanin, a natural polymer and organic semiconductor.[3]

In humans, melanin is the primary determinant of skin color. Humans whose ancestors lived for long periods in the regions of the globe near the equator generally have larger quantities of eumelanin in their skins. Melanin theorists assert that the possession of greater quantities of melanin gives black people inherent superiority.[citation needed] Conversely, its lack demonstrates the alleged inferiority of white people.


According to Bernard Ortiz De Montellano of Wayne State University, "The alleged properties of melanin, mostly unsupported, irrelevant, or distortions of the scientific literature, are (...) used to justify Afrocentric assertions. One of the most common is that humans evolved as blacks in Africa, and that whites are mutants (albinos, or melanin recessives)".[4][5] The melanin hypothesis is supported by black academic Leonard Jeffries, who according to Time magazine, believes that "melanin, the dark skin pigment, gives blacks intellectual and physical superiority over whites". [6]

F C Welsing claimed that the prevalence of high blood pressure among African Americans is because melanin picks up "energy vibrations" from people who are experiencing stress. Thus people with dark skin will absorb the effects of stress in others resulting in higher blood pressure.[4][7] In fact, higher rates of hypertension among blacks are linked to norepinephrine, a substance that the body produces under stress and which constricts blood vessels. Studies by Roger Allen at the University of Maryland show that, after being subjected to stress, blacks exhibit elevated blood pressure at least ten times as long as do whites.[8][9]

In popular culture

In 2006, the views of adherents and critics of melanin theory were dramatized in Cassandra Medley's play, Relativity.[10]

See also


  1. Skeptinq, Ortiz de Montellano, B. R. 1993. “Afrocentricity, Melanin, and Pseudoscience," Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 36, 33-58
  2. Ortiz de Montellano, Bernard R. (17 Dec 2006). "Afrocentric Pseudoscience: The Miseducation of African Americans". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. New York Academy of Sciences. 775: 561–572. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.1996.tb23174.x. 
  3. The National Museum of American History
  4. 4.0 4.1 Ortiz De Montellano, Bernard. "Magic Melanin: Spreading Scientific Illiteracy Among Minorities ". Skeptical Inquirer. Spring 1992.
  5. Ernest Cashmore, James Jennings, Racism: essential readings, SAGE, 2001, p.181-2.
  6. Controversies: The Provocative Professor, Time, By LANCE MORROW, Sunday, June 24, 2001
  7. Welsing, F. C. (1975). "Blacks, hypertension, and the active skin melanocyte". Urban Health. 4 (3): 64–72. 
  8. "Blacks, Hypertension and Melanin". The Washington Post. Oct 14, 1991. 
  10. Neil Genzlinger, "Science and Race Issues Clash in Cassandra Medley's 'Relativity'", The New York Times, May 2, 2006