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  #1  
Old 08-21-2007, 08:20 AM
leptity leptity is offline
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Are black babies really born white?

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...-h/10611-h.htm)
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  #2  
Old 08-21-2007, 08:25 AM
Crotalus Crotalus is offline
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No.
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  #3  
Old 08-21-2007, 08:30 AM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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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.
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  #4  
Old 08-21-2007, 08:50 AM
leptity leptity is offline
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There was this Yahoo! Answers thread as well, with anecdotal evidence it's true in the case of babies who're half white and half black.
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  #5  
Old 08-21-2007, 08:56 AM
Squink Squink is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leptity
it's true in the case of babies who're half white and half black.
[nitpick]
But wouldn't these be called 'spotted babies', rather than 'black babies' or 'white babies'?
[/nitpick]

Last edited by Squink; 08-21-2007 at 08:57 AM.. Reason: Or maybe 'striped babies'?
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  #6  
Old 08-21-2007, 08:59 AM
Omega Glory Omega Glory is offline
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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.

Last edited by Omega Glory; 08-21-2007 at 09:03 AM..
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  #7  
Old 08-21-2007, 10:27 AM
Duck Duck Goose Duck Duck Goose is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Omega Glory
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 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..."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Omega Glory
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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Omega Glory
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.
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  #8  
Old 08-21-2007, 10:42 AM
Omega Glory Omega Glory is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose
Since the quote in question is from 18th century anti-slavery activist Thomas Clarkson's 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.



Quote:
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.
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  #9  
Old 08-21-2007, 10:50 AM
Duck Duck Goose Duck Duck Goose is offline
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Just for reference purposes.

Photo of dark-skinned Nigerian baby.

Photo of dark-skinned African-American baby.

And another 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 is his everyday off-camera look.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Omega Glory
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.
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  #10  
Old 08-21-2007, 10:56 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose
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!
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  #11  
Old 08-21-2007, 11:13 AM
Omega Glory Omega Glory is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose
Just for reference purposes.

Photo of dark-skinned Nigerian baby.

Photo of dark-skinned African-American baby.

And another 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 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).
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  #12  
Old 08-21-2007, 11:15 AM
Duck Duck Goose Duck Duck Goose is offline
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Yeah, I know, it was mainly for the benefit of the OP.

If he comes back.
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  #13  
Old 08-21-2007, 11:18 AM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose
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.
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  #14  
Old 08-21-2007, 11:27 AM
Kozmik Kozmik is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leptity
There was this Yahoo! Answers thread 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.
Photo of Tiger, Elin and baby.
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  #15  
Old 08-21-2007, 11:31 AM
leptity leptity is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duck Duck Goose
Since the quote in question is from 18th century anti-slavery activist Thomas Clarkson's 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'.
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  #16  
Old 08-21-2007, 11:34 AM
Omega Glory Omega Glory is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhyNot
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.
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  #17  
Old 08-21-2007, 11:37 AM
GingerOfTheNorth GingerOfTheNorth is offline
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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.
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  #18  
Old 08-21-2007, 11:39 AM
leptity leptity is offline
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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."

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhyNot
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?
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  #19  
Old 08-21-2007, 11:41 AM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is offline
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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
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  #20  
Old 08-21-2007, 12:00 PM
irishgirl irishgirl is offline
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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.

Last edited by irishgirl; 08-21-2007 at 12:01 PM..
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  #21  
Old 08-21-2007, 12:01 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leptity
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.
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  #22  
Old 08-21-2007, 12:02 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lemur866
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.
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  #23  
Old 08-21-2007, 12:41 PM
Jake Jake is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
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.

Last edited by Jake; 08-21-2007 at 12:42 PM.. Reason: Grammar
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  #24  
Old 08-21-2007, 12:42 PM
Enola Straight Enola Straight is offline
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I seem to remember a National Geographic photo (or is it one of those Time/Life educational books? ) of a dark-skinned mother holdeing her newborn light-skinned baby: the article stated the child's skin darkens over time.
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  #25  
Old 08-21-2007, 08:01 PM
TimeWinder TimeWinder is offline
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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.
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  #26  
Old 08-21-2007, 10:14 PM
TokyoBayer TokyoBayer is offline
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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.
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  #27  
Old 08-21-2007, 11:02 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jake
Yeah, it sure wasn't up to the Onion standards.
That's affirmative action for ya!











just kidding
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  #28  
Old 08-22-2007, 12:11 AM
Mighty_Girl Mighty_Girl is offline
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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.
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  #29  
Old 08-22-2007, 02:33 AM
Sampiro Sampiro is online now
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I've read that every fourth child born is Chinese, so I guess it depends on how many kids the black family has.
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  #30  
Old 08-22-2007, 02:45 AM
danceswithcats danceswithcats is offline
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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.
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  #31  
Old 08-22-2007, 04:06 AM
bbs2k bbs2k is offline
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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 ::
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  #32  
Old 08-22-2007, 09:28 AM
Omega Glory Omega Glory is offline
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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.
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  #33  
Old 08-22-2007, 09:29 AM
Cervaise Cervaise is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Squink
Quote:
Originally Posted by leptity
it's true in the case of babies who're half white and half black.
[nitpick]
But wouldn't these be called 'spotted babies', rather than 'black babies' or 'white babies'?
[/nitpick]
Nah, they're only white on the inside.
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  #34  
Old 08-22-2007, 09:42 AM
ShibbOleth ShibbOleth is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kozmik
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.
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  #35  
Old 08-22-2007, 04:32 PM
Rysdad Rysdad is offline
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Originally Posted by ShibbOleth
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.
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  #36  
Old 08-22-2007, 07:31 PM
TPWombat TPWombat is offline
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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 .
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  #37  
Old 08-22-2007, 11:13 PM
susan susan is online now
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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.
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  #38  
Old 08-23-2007, 04:57 AM
Lust4Life Lust4Life is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TPWombat
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.
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  #39  
Old 08-23-2007, 09:48 AM
monstro monstro is online now
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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.
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  #40  
Old 08-23-2007, 01:27 PM
gigi gigi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TPWombat
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.
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  #41  
Old 08-23-2007, 03:08 PM
Adoptamom_II Adoptamom_II is offline
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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.
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