The Human Skin Color is One (PDF)

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Jean Bitar

The human skin has only one color.
The expression ‘skin color’ is a lie. There are no black or white skins.
Let us ponder over it meticulously. Let us realize why the idea of ‘color’, for our
skin, made the world go wrong and how we are right by saying that for the skin there
are no ‘colors’.
In Classical Greece, the general imagination held that the most beautiful people on
Earth were the Ethiopians.
The Classical Greeks were considered the ultimate instance of physical beauty.
They had a different opinion: it was the Ethiopians.
I read it in Book III of Herodotus’ History.
‘Men are longer-lived and taller and more beautiful than any other land.’
Tons of translations of Herodotus’ History replaced ‘beautiful’ with ‘elegant’. Why?
In the original text, the word is ‘beautiful’.
The term ‘Ethiopia’, for Herodotus, refers to Africa beyond the Sahara.
Homer says in the Iliad that Ethiopia was the place where the gods spend time.
‘Zeus was on the banks of the Oceanus River, feasting with the Ethiopians: he and all
the inhabitants of Olympus.’
Herodotus also tells that eighteen Pharaohs were Ethiopians.
The Iliad and the Odyssey mention exhaustively peoples of Africa, Europe, and Asia.
The word ‘color’ is never used to describe them.
Marco Polo has never mentioned that in the Far East people had ‘yellow’ skin.
Historians, centuries later, censured Marco Polo. They said his sense of observation
was meager. It was not. The point is that Marco Polo never ran into anyone with a
‘yellow’ skin. In the Far East persons are lighter or darker and of the same color, as is
everyone in the entire world.
The color blue.
It ranges from the darkest to the lightest tonalities.
And it is blue.
In a sequence of hundreds of tones in the blue, we cannot tell exactly where the
blueness becomes less intense or more intense. We need distance between the samples
until we start to notice some difference.
The same applies to the human skin. If we place a series of people side by side, from
the darkest to the lightest, there will be no observable change between neighbors.

Parents with noticeable different tonalities recognize that their children have different
tonalities, not different ‘colors’.
Our tonality — as every schoolchild knows — is given by melanin, which also exists
in vegetables. Melanin occurs in granules in the skin, and it is dark. What makes a
person lighter or darker is not the tonality of the pigment. Lighter people produce less
melanin, darker people produce more melanin. Besides, there is nothing: it is the same
skin and the same color.
There is no yellow and no white melanin. Therefore, there were never, at least here
on our planet, white, black or yellow persons.
For goodness sake, it is always sound to recall that black and white are not even
There is also in humans a reddish melanin — pheomelanin — which gives the color
red to hair. It is the same pigment that gives the red color to bird feathers. It is not
present in the human skin.
These data do not require interpretation. They are objective. They are right. They are
facts, not opinions. To say that the human skin has different ‘colors’ is a mistake. It is as
wrong as affirming that the Earth is flat. To allege that there are sociological and
political reasons to say that the human skin has ‘colors’ is worse than a mistake because
it is dishonest.
The perception of ‘colors’ in humans is a recent phenomenon. It only started in the
16th century.
In lyric poems in Antiquity, whenever the fair skin of women was praised, it had only
a patriarchal sense. These poems celebrated the condition of nobility of those women:
they did not have to work under the sun.
They praised dark skin on men.
To make Odysseus beautiful again, as he was returning to Ithaca to reencounter
Penelope, the goddess Athena invigorated him and made his skin dark.
It is in Book XVI of the Odyssey.
This patriarchal way is standardized in Egyptian murals: the skin of the goddesses
has a lighter hue; the gods are darker.
The ancients saw themselves as this: some taller, some shorter, some fatter, some
thinner, some lighter, some darker, and all of the same color.
No serious work on dermatology and genetics mentions ‘color’ referring to humans.
There are tonalities of the same color.
Tonality is not color.
Color is one thing. Tonality is another.
‘Tonality’ carries a sense of equality. The word ‘color’ separates.
‘Color’ seems to create a biological wall.
The wall exists. Persons are less or more compatible biologically.
Before the discovery of antigens, someone in blood group O who received blood
from someone in group AB would die — due to biological incompatibility — even if
their skin had exactly the same tone. Yet two persons, one with a very dark tone and the
other a very light tone, and both in group O negative, can switch blood because they are
biologically compatible.

In spite of that, already at the time when the antigens were known, ‘blood’ managed
to remain as an emblem of ignorance — ‘white blood’, ‘black blood’ and ‘yellow
There was an attempt — but that was short-lived — to fashion another ‘color’ for the
skin, the ‘red’ skin in the North of America. It was intended to be another wall, but it is
now forgotten. In Asia, there are no longer ‘yellows’. It is now ridiculous to mention
that term. Other ‘colors’ will not exist, as they did not exist before.
The city of Rome, at the peak of the Empire, had nine hundred thousand inhabitants.
Three hundred thousand were slaves. The Romans were obsessed by censuses: the data
are accurate. Of the slaves, two hundred thousand were from Europe; one hundred
thousand from Africa. One hundred thousand in nine hundred thousand surpass ten
What happened to those Africans at the fall of the Empire? They mixed with the
population of Europe.
By the year 700 they were all assimilated my marriages.
The Romans feared that people of the same origin, if aggregated in the same
quarters, would plan rebellions. So they mixed Germanic slaves with Ethiopians,
Nubians with Gauls, and marriages arose from that circumstance. As the Empire
fragmented, those couples gradually dispersed. They were dedicated mainly to
agriculture. The more the Empire fell, the more they spread across Europe, toward the
North. The case is such that as for the term ‘European’, it is impossible to affirm that a
European has not an African ancestor — not to mention that all Europeans migrated
from Africa.
The 16th century is significant for the introduction of the idea — and the perception
— of color’. It was the time of European colonialism. Later, it was slavery. For
domination, walls were necessary. The notion of ‘Western’ civilization followed ‘skin
color’. Then, it was ‘white’ civilization.
It is not.
The so-called ‘Western’ civilization is Mediterranean: it was created in Southern
Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
Thus the ‘West’, when we refer to Europe in the historical sense, is a mistake. In
Antiquity, there was no ‘Europe’ as we understand it now.
It is enough to read Herodotus, Homer or Hesiod to realize that Greek civilization —
the ‘West’ — was related to the Middle East and North Africa. The territory that is now
Europe did not count to them.
Let us refuse to be misled by bigotry, especially highbrow bigotry, which is the worst
for it is made to seem redeeming.
Let us refuse to perceive ‘skin colors’.
Let us be free.
Freedom stands not on ignorance but on knowledge.


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