Why do black people exist at all?

Who knew that a simple trait like skin complexion could cause so much trouble for our species? While we are slowly but definitely moving towards a post-racial society, the symptoms of the systematic oppression and abuse of black people can still be felt. Across cultures lighter skinned people have generally enjoyed higher status and better opportunities compared to their darker counter parts. This inequality wouldn't have existed if black people didn't exist in the first place. So why do they even exist?


Before trying to find out why, let us establish that it is a valid question. Take a good look at this chimp and imagine what he would look like if we were to shave his body hair. Pay attention to his mouth and chest areas. That is right - chimps and most other primates when shaved would look more like Brad Pitt than Will Smith. They are all whites! If all of our evolutionary cousins are whites, why do black humans exist?


It all started millions of years ago when humans started losing body hair. You can read theories here on why only humans lost their body hair but not thousands of other mammals. 

Harmful effects of UV radiation:
While there are several benefits to losing body hair, one obvious drawback is increased exposure to harmful Ultra Violet radiation from the Sun, especially while walking naked in the hot African Savannah like our early ancestors did. UV radiation can destroy a molecule called Folate in our body, the deficiency of which can cause birth defects. It can also significantly increase the likelihood of developing skin cancer. It has been found that not only does skin cancer kill people but it kills them at a very young age severely cutting into a person's reproductive years (a study found that Albino Africans who develop skin cancer usually die in their 30s. If skin cancer can kill people in their 30s today, it is reasonable to assume that it killed our ancestors at a much younger age).

Dark skin protects against UV radiation:
Turns out that dark skin protects both from skin cancer and Folate damage (how exactly dark skin fights UV light is beyond the scope of this article). In fact, researchers found that African Americans are 1/50th as likely as White Americans to be diagnosed with skin cancer. Since dark pigmentation offered better protection against skin cancers and Folate damage, people with darker skin lived longer and had a better chance at reproduction and were able to pass on their genes which gradually led the population to grow darker. On the other hand people with pale skin died before getting a chance to reproduce and thus gradually got weeded out of the population.

Why do white people exist then?
About 120K to 60K years ago, dark skinned humans started migrating out of the tropics towards poles with low UV radiation. When this happened dark skin's protection against UV light no longer offered an evolutionary advantage. Instead, pale skin became more advantageous because it was better at absorbing sunlight which the body needs to make Vitamin-D. (the reason why darker people in colder climates are often prescribed Vitamin-D supplements).

Summary:
To summarize, humans  evolved dark skin because it offered protection against UV light and thus is prevalent in hotter climates like Africa. Pale skin bounced back when humans migrated out of Africa because it protects against Vitamin-D deficiency in colder climates like Europe.

16 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. no its just racist and that is not ok this post needs to be taken down

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    2. How is this possibly racist? You'd have to explain not just make a baseless statement.

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    3. its definitely not racist. its just info

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    4. The question seems quite racist. The answer definitely is not. The question should be why do people have differing skin tones.

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  2. discrimination in other culture has nothing to do with black people. for example in china before they even knew about black people, workers got tans whereas richer asians stayed inside so got white. this formed a trend as people looked for richer white asian. most caucasians want tans except the weird gothy type. discriminationof skin does have something to do with slavery when it comes to black culture tho

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  3. Also whiter skin is not better protected against hotter climates. More melanined skin would act as an sun-block agent but keep telling yourself that???

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    Replies
    1. I could have sworn the article clearly stated that dark skin is more efficient for sunlight heavy environments.....

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  4. WTF @Siramad? This is definitely not a bad article. You can't even speak right???

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  5. People calling this article racist, others completely missing the point like @Siramad.
    Have to wonder if people literally have stopped reading to understanding these days and just prefer to hear themselves speak. Sad really. What a basic article yet somehow it's beyond you.

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  6. The question is Backwards. It should be : Why do white people exist at all? Outside of Northern Europe the suns UV index is high enough to render fair skin useless against the ravages of the sun. Technically speaking without racial mixing White people outside of Northern Europe will Adapt and develop darker skin (you see the beginnings of this in people with excessive freckles). Basically, however the native people look like in your country you will eventually take on a similar skin color in time.

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  7. This is the most retarded article in history

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  8. Its the question that seems racist, guys. The question sounds awful. As I said before, it should be why do humans have differing skin tones? And the article answers this question perfectly.

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