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leptity
08-21-2007, 09:20 AM
Are black babies really white when they are born?

Quote:

"The children of the blackest Africans are born white.[088] In this state they continue for about a month, when they change to a pale yellow. In process of time they become brown. Their skin still continues to increase in darkness with their age, till it becomes of a dirty, sallow black, and at length, after a certain period of years, glossy and shining."

(http://www.gutenberg.org/files/10611/10611-h/10611-h.htm)

Crotalus
08-21-2007, 09:25 AM
No.

Harmonious Discord
08-21-2007, 09:30 AM
Let me add you should take the exploratory books, and the like from a century ago, as being full of what it takes to sell books.

leptity
08-21-2007, 09:50 AM
There was this Yahoo! Answers thread (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20060817210940AAjjrhT) as well, with anecdotal evidence it's true in the case of babies who're half white and half black.

Squink
08-21-2007, 09:56 AM
it's true in the case of babies who're half white and half black.
But wouldn't these be called 'spotted babies', rather than 'black babies' or 'white babies'?

Omega Glory
08-21-2007, 09:59 AM
IME, a large number* of black babies are born several shades lighter than they will be as adults. In the case of a person who will grow up to be lighter skinned, they can look white as newborns. It can take anywhere from a few days to a few years for the person to reach their final color. I've seen light to medium brown skinned babies and toddlers grow into very dark skinned older children. It takes awhile for the melanin to kick in, similar to the way some babies are born with lighter eyes that darken with age.

I've never seen anything that the quote mentions though.

*I won't say all, because I haven't seen every black newborn, but I've never seen a newborn who had Wesley Snipes' color, although I've seen lighter newborns grow up to be that color.

Duck Duck Goose
08-21-2007, 11:27 AM
I've never seen anything that the quote mentions though.

Since the quote in question is from 18th century anti-slavery activist Thomas Clarkson's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Clarkson) famous essay, "An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, Particularly the African Translated from a Latin Dissertation, Which Was Honoured with the First Prize in the University of Cambridge, for the Year 1785, with Additions", I doubt whether he was reporting on an actual, observed phenomenon. Much more likely that he was "reporting" a completely manufactured factoid in order to further his anti-slavery agenda: "Africans are born white, so they're really just like us..."

a large number* of black babies are born several shades lighter than they will be as adults...It takes awhile for the melanin to kick in, similar to the way some babies are born with lighter eyes that darken with age.

This can also be said of Caucasian babies. Caucasian children can have much lighter hair as toddlers than they do as older children; they start out blonde and are frankly brown-haired by age 7 or 8.

And of course there's the proverbial fairness of "skin like a baby's", as in, "He dropped trou, and his buttocks were like a baby's". IOW, very pale.

I've never seen a newborn who had Wesley Snipes' color

I have. My Walgreens store is in the "disadvantaged" section of town, and I've seen newborns of every shade of black, the same way I've seen their parents in every shade of black.

Omega Glory
08-21-2007, 11:42 AM
Since the quote in question is from 18th century anti-slavery activist Thomas Clarkson's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Clarkson) famous essay, "An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, Particularly the African Translated from a Latin Dissertation, Which Was Honoured with the First Prize in the University of Cambridge, for the Year 1785, with Additions", I doubt whether he was reporting on an actual, observed phenomenon. Much more likely that he was "reporting" a completely manufactured factoid in order to further his anti-slavery agenda: "Africans are born white, so they're really just like us..."I know that the things mentioned in the quote don't take place in real life. I just wanted to make sure the OP knew that while black newborns don't make that particular transition, therre is a transition made.



This can also be said of Caucasian babies. Caucasian children can have much lighter hair as toddlers than they do as older children; they start out blonde and are frankly brown-haired by age 7 or 8.Yes, I was mostly talking about white babies when mentioning eye color. I've never seen a light eyed black newborn, although they are out there, especially in cases of people who will grow up to be light eyed adults.

Duck Duck Goose
08-21-2007, 11:50 AM
Just for reference purposes.

Photo of dark-skinned Nigerian baby. (http://www.cedpa.org/uploaded_files/nigeria-woman&baby.jpg)

Photo of dark-skinned African-American baby. (http://www.boingboing.net/images/th_babydome.jpg)

And another (http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/39495000/jpg/_39495171_baby_ap_203body.jpg) dark-skinned Nigerian baby.

Wesley Snipes' color seems to change with his movies; a Google Image search turns up an impressive array of shades. Presumably this (http://eur.i1.yimg.com/eur.yimg.com/ng/mo/premiere_photo/20060327/09/3963851993.jpg) is his everyday off-camera look.

I've never seen a light eyed black newborn

Actually, I did, once. The effect was...startling. Which is why it sticks in my mind.

John Mace
08-21-2007, 11:56 AM
Caucasian children can have much lighter hair as toddlers than they do as older children; they start out blonde and are frankly brown-haired by age 7 or 8.
Yep, that's me!

Omega Glory
08-21-2007, 12:13 PM
Just for reference purposes.

Photo of dark-skinned Nigerian baby. (http://www.cedpa.org/uploaded_files/nigeria-woman&baby.jpg)

Photo of dark-skinned African-American baby. (http://www.boingboing.net/images/th_babydome.jpg)

And another (http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/39495000/jpg/_39495171_baby_ap_203body.jpg) dark-skinned Nigerian baby.

Wesley Snipes' color seems to change with his movies; a Google Image search turns up an impressive array of shades. Presumably this (http://eur.i1.yimg.com/eur.yimg.com/ng/mo/premiere_photo/20060327/09/3963851993.jpg) is his everyday off-camera look.




Oh sure, I'm not saying that there aren't dark babies. My photo album is full of pictures of them. ;) When I said newborn, I meant right out of the oven, so to speak, as in hours to days old. Re: Wesley Snipes, I just picked the name of the darkest famous person I could think of off hand. Lighting can definitely affect the shade that a person comes out in a picture, along with summer tans (dark skinned people can get darker in the summer, which is surprising to some non dark skinned people, including a certain doctor I know).

Duck Duck Goose
08-21-2007, 12:15 PM
Yeah, I know, it was mainly for the benefit of the OP.

If he comes back.

WhyNot
08-21-2007, 12:18 PM
Just for reference purposes.
Those are adorable pictures, but none of them are newborns. The third one looks the closest, at maybe 8-10 weeks or so. Plenty of time to "dark up" according to the story.

I'm a little astonished that someone hasn't simply set up a website with a bunch of newborn and 1 month pictures on it to address this issue. 'Cause yeah, anecdotally, all the mixed race and black babies I've seen as newborns do dark up later on. Then again, so do most white babies, they just don't "dark up" as far or as evenly - we get moles or areas of hyperpigmentation starting somewhere after the age of 2 and they can keep popping up for the rest of our lives. The overall skintone of white people generally tends to darken as it thickens with age and sun exposure - I haven't paid much attention to the skin color of my black friends and acquaintances over the years, so I can't say for sure theirs does or doesn't.

Kozmik
08-21-2007, 12:27 PM
There was this Yahoo! Answers thread (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20060817210940AAjjrhT) as well, with anecdotal evidence it's true in the case of babies who're half white and half black.Photo of Tiger Woods' baby. (http://www.golf.com/golf/gallery/article/0,28242,1636961-2,00.html)
Photo of Tiger, Elin and baby. (http://www.golf.com/golf/gallery/article/0,28242,1636961,00.html)

leptity
08-21-2007, 12:31 PM
Since the quote in question is from 18th century anti-slavery activist Thomas Clarkson's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Clarkson) famous essay, "An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, Particularly the African Translated from a Latin Dissertation, Which Was Honoured with the First Prize in the University of Cambridge, for the Year 1785, with Additions", I doubt whether he was reporting on an actual, observed phenomenon. Much more likely that he was "reporting" a completely manufactured factoid in order to further his anti-slavery agenda: "Africans are born white, so they're really just like us..."

No, no, his argument is much more 'since colour is so variable, it can't be used as a means for deciding people are inferior'.

Omega Glory
08-21-2007, 12:34 PM
I haven't paid much attention to the skin color of my black friends and acquaintances over the years, so I can't say for sure theirs does or doesn't.
Again, I can't speak for everyone etc. etc. but it has for a great deal of people I've seen over the years.

GingerOfTheNorth
08-21-2007, 12:37 PM
Anecdotal: One of the ladies I work with is quite dark skinned African-American, and her newborn (two weeks) was very pale. Her husband is also quite dark-skinned. She told me that I had to look to the baby's ears to see what colour she'd turn out to be.

leptity
08-21-2007, 12:39 PM
The essay's footnotes also say:

"[088]
This circumstance, which always happens, shews that they are descended from the same parents as ourselves; for had they been a distinct species of men, and the blackness entirely ingrafted in their constitution and frame, there is great reason to presume, that their children would have been born black."

I'm a little astonished that someone hasn't simply set up a website with a bunch of newborn and 1 month pictures on it to address this issue.
So it's a common conception?

Lemur866
08-21-2007, 12:41 PM
I suppose I'm the one who has to do it:
I Can Instantly Tell Whether Someone Is African-American With My Amazing 'Blackdar'
http://www.theonion.com/content/node/34052

irishgirl
08-21-2007, 01:00 PM
In my experience, most newborn babies are that particularly attractive shade of pinky-purple that brings to mind corned beef, whether caucasion, asian, south east asian or african.

They only turn anything like their "proper" colour after a few hours, and even then they'll probably still tan a fair bit.

WhyNot
08-21-2007, 01:01 PM
So it's a common conception?
Oh yeah! I've "known" it all my life, and I don't know anyone who doesn't know it.* But actually I don't know for sure if it's universal (few things about humans are really universal, when you think about it) or if it's more likely to happen with very different parents (aka "mixed race"), and that's mostly what we see here in the US. There are relatively few Nigerians six generations back marrying other Nigerians six generations back in our country. Most of us born in this country to parents who were born in this country, no matter what our skin tone, are "mutts" of some sort. So maybe we're asking the wrong question. Maybe it's not "are black babies really born white" but "are African-American babies born paler than their toddler skin tone most of the time?" Since "African-American" is a very different thing than "black", and more genetically diverse, it's a very different question.



*But again, this doesn't mean it's true. I don't know anyone who doesn't know that water goes down the drain clockwise on one side of the planet and counter-clockwise on the other. Problem is, we're all wrong. There is no coriolis effect in your sink, the direction of the swirl has to do with the location of the faucet, the speed of the flow and any imperfections in the surface. There are lots of things that "everyone knows" that are just not correct.

John Mace
08-21-2007, 01:02 PM
I suppose I'm the one who has to do it:
I Can Instantly Tell Whether Someone Is African-American With My Amazing 'Blackdar'
http://www.theonion.com/content/node/34052
Man, that was one not-funny article. I actually felt sorry for the guy as I was reading it.

Jake
08-21-2007, 01:41 PM
Man, that was one not-funny article. I actually felt sorry for the guy as I was reading it.
Yeah, it sure wasn't up to the Onion standards. :(

Enola Straight
08-21-2007, 01:42 PM
I seem to remember a National Geographic photo (or is it one of those Time/Life educational books? :dubious: ) of a dark-skinned mother holdeing her newborn light-skinned baby: the article stated the child's skin darkens over time.

TimeWinder
08-21-2007, 09:01 PM
I say an omnimax movie just a week or so ago that made the same claim: that melanin required exposure to light to pigment, and that there was no way to tell the race of a fetus or immediately post-birth newborn by skin color-they're all pink.

I've never been present at any birth other than my own, though, so I dunno. The film seemed pretty accurate about everything else.

TokyoBayer
08-21-2007, 11:14 PM
My mother is a retired newborn nursery nurse, and I had heard a number of stories over the years, so I asked her about this.

She says for mixed race babies, where one parent is black and the other is white, that the babies often come out a lighter color than what they turn out. There are parts of the skin which are darker and give an indication of the final color. These areas include the genitals, back of the fingernails and some creases. She said she saw one baby from a black mother and a white father which was all white, with no indication of any blackness.

She has seen some babies from dark African parents who were born as black as the parents.

Bryan Ekers
08-22-2007, 12:02 AM
Yeah, it sure wasn't up to the Onion standards. :(
That's affirmative action for ya!











just kidding

Mighty_Girl
08-22-2007, 01:11 AM
Straight out of the oven light-skinned kids seem to look darker (purplish). At least the ones I've seen.

My daughter (mixed as hell) was born with very dark hair and purple skin. She then started bleaching out. Her hair started to turn lighter, the same happened with her skin and eyes. Then her hair and eyes turned much lighter and her skin darkened a bit. She's now light-skinned (mediterranean), medium blue eyes and her blonde hair keeps getting lighter. There was no way to predict any of this when she was born, and I have no way to predict how she'll look in 5 years, let alone as an adult.

Most mixed kids I know look dark right at birth, lighter skinned until they are about 5 years old, and then they look more like the color they'll have as adults. I have no experience with kids of purely black parents though.

Sampiro
08-22-2007, 03:33 AM
I've read that every fourth child born is Chinese, so I guess it depends on how many kids the black family has.

danceswithcats
08-22-2007, 03:45 AM
We had a color wheel at the hospital where I worked such that we could compare the pigment of momma, and poppa, if he was around, and compute the proper setting for dippin the baby so they'd match. Kinda like what Benjamin-Moore and those other paint folks do.

bbs2k
08-22-2007, 05:06 AM
Dammit, I'm having trouble finding the cites, but I'll just say it and possibly be corrected later.

I've seen pictures of a chimera baby, who has two distinctly different skin pigments split right down the middle. In other words, split left vs. right down the chest. It wasn't as dramatic as black and white, but yes two different colors.

:: goes back to hunt down cites ::

Omega Glory
08-22-2007, 10:28 AM
I don't know if that really fits with this thread but that baby was in a documentary called I Am My Own Twin. I believe the child was a hermaphrodite.

Cervaise
08-22-2007, 10:29 AM
it's true in the case of babies who're half white and half black.
But wouldn't these be called 'spotted babies', rather than 'black babies' or 'white babies'?
Nah, they're only white on the inside.

ShibbOleth
08-22-2007, 10:42 AM
Photo of Tiger Woods' baby. (http://www.golf.com/golf/gallery/article/0,28242,1636961-2,00.html)
Photo of Tiger, Elin and baby. (http://www.golf.com/golf/gallery/article/0,28242,1636961,00.html)

FWIW, Tiger Woods' child is at most 1/4 African, 1/2 Swedish/European, and 1/4 Thai (which is often a mix of ethnic Chinese and Thai). And so it looks like a perfectly blended little child, who will probably grow up to be gorgeous and able to drive a gold ball half a mile.

Rysdad
08-22-2007, 05:32 PM
And so it looks like a perfectly blended little child, who will probably grow up to be gorgeous and able to drive a gold ball half a mile.

Yeah, he'll probably be rich enough to play with gold balls.

TPWombat
08-22-2007, 08:31 PM
In an American military training film, called Medecine in Vietnam as I recall ,one part shows a black G.I.who'd been hit by napalm and had his upper skinlayers taken off.
His skin was that sort of pinky colour that we always call white when it relates to people .

susan
08-23-2007, 12:13 AM
OTOH, I was a white baby born with dark enough skin that the nurses thought I was black. Now I am just a delicious olive color.

Lust4Life
08-23-2007, 05:57 AM
In an American military training film, called Medecine in Vietnam as I recall ,one part shows a black G.I.who'd been hit by napalm and had his upper skinlayers taken off.
His skin was that sort of pinky colour that we always call white when it relates to people .
Sorry mods ,one of mine thought Wombat had logged off.

monstro
08-23-2007, 10:48 AM
One of my sisters looked "sheet white" when she was born. Now she is wheatish in color.

I was born fire engine red. Before I got baked by the Florida sun, I was the palest in the family (except for my dad).

So no, black babies aren't born white, but they're coloring does change as they grow up. I think it's safe to say that there's some darkening involved, but sometimes the color just changes--like it did in my case.

gigi
08-23-2007, 02:27 PM
In an American military training film, called Medecine in Vietnam as I recall ,one part shows a black G.I.who'd been hit by napalm and had his upper skinlayers taken off.
His skin was that sort of pinky colour that we always call white when it relates to people .
Well, and then there are albino black people.

Adoptamom_II
08-23-2007, 04:08 PM
Our two youngest, now 14 & 15 yo, are adopted.

Our son is biracial (white mom, black dad) and he's been the same cinnamon color since his birth and turns deep brown when tanned.

Our daughter is black. She was so pale (with bright blue eyes) at a few days old that I thought the adoption agency had given me the wrong baby. Over the next year or so her skin tone developed into a light golden brown color. In the summer she tans to a deeper golden color.