White skin on a black person.

I tried Google, but I guess I’m not forming the request correctly.

Why white palms and soles on a black person?

I dunno how to google it either, but it’s always been my understanding that any human’s palms (or soles) contain little to no melanin. This medical fact is simply more obvious when looking at a black person’s hands or feet.

  • Peter Wiggen

Is there a known advantage to less melanin at those spots?

Here 's an interesting cite. Apparently there’s less melanin because of the thickness of the skin on the hands and feet.

Where, O Where are our medically trained Dopers to put this whole thing together for us?!

  • Peter Wiggen

Dunno, but all there has to be is no disadvantage to less melanin there for the trait to stick around.

Chimpanzees have black palms and soles, though, and I’d imagine their hands and feet get a lot more rough usage than ours do.

Not the answer you seek, but an answer to the same question from our literary history is found in this Uncle Remus story: “Why the Negro is Black.” Some interesting analyses on the story are here.

Isn’t the skin pinkish-reddish-brown, rather than “white”, per se?

Well, sure, and the skin on the back of the hand is some shade of brown, rather than “black” per se.

The question is based on palms and soles of both whites and blacks looking about the same, while other areas of skin don’t. “White” and “black” are just common, reasonably well understood terms for racial groups, and are not meant to be strictly accurated denotations of actual color.

I have a related question.

I have two freckles on the undersides of my fingers. One on my left ring finger, just above the palm. The other is on my right index finger in the same spot. They come and go, one fades out and the other fades in. I’m the only person I’ve ever met that has freckly fingertips.

Is this a genetic mutation? Should I submit DNA to “them” for analysis?

The below book available on Amazon appears to explain about the soles of black folk:


This post just reminded me of the mark that used to be on one of my fingertips. It was a black dot that appeared when I was four or five, then slowly faded and dissapeared when I was about fifteen.

Now I’m wondering if it’ll be back. Perhaps they’ll give us a two for one deal on the price of the analysis if we submit our samples together Filmgeek.

I’m assuming you’re white and have never had a really deep tan. The summer in college when I worked on shake roofs, I wore an SPF 8 sunscreen and got a tan dark enough that I could see the line around my palms.

As I told my classes in (heavily black and Latino) Lynwood, CA, no one makes melatonin on the palms of their hands. It’s a human thing, not a black thing.

Actually, that’s not the only place on the body like that. (i.e. genitalia)

I think you haven’t had PE classes with black guys.

:confused: Male gentials are more heavily pigmented than the rest of the body. They are certainly not white on black men.

Female genitals are also often more heavily pigmented though it’s not as noticable for obvious reasons and not as universally true.

Yeah, not much pineal gland tissue there in the hands. :wink:

There does seem to be a small amount of melanin there, though. I, who am white beyond white, have a lighter-colored palm than, say, my coworker from Nigeria (to pick an exceptionally dark-skinned person I know) – hers is more of a cream-color, while mine is just pink. So it seems the palms and soles aren’t completely colorless, just much lighter than the rest of the body.

Good point about there being a little coloration on the palms.

BTW, even on a “black” person, part of that coloration is just a tan. Look at the football players interviewed in the lockerroom with their shirts off. Even the black guys will have a tan line at about the collarbone, where the pads and jersey come to.

Wondering: why do “black” babies arrive such a lighter color than they become? Ever seen a really knew baby of a black couple? It looks like they’re faking the relation, like on the Cosby show and such, where a family is a whole palette of colors. But then the baby becomes more like the parents. Is it all tanning? I wouldn’t think most parents allow their baby to become tanned on its butt.

Crap. “Melatonin”. I do get those mixed up, and I was up way too late to be trying to get that straight.

Most black families that I know are composed of a whole palette of colors. I have two nieces–both sisters with the same parents. One is the shade of “Denice”. The other is the shade darker than “Rudy”. Just like a brunette can have a blonde sibling, a variety of skin colors can spring out of the same family.

I’m not sure why babies start off pale. Perhaps it has something to do with initial hormone levels. Just like hair color gradually darkens with increasing androgen levels (explaining why there are few natural blond adults).

Well, for all the smugness it gives me to think I’ve spotted the flaw in Hollywood casting, I might have to give you that one.

I know a girl at church whose dad is a straight-up east Indian. “Yup, that’s an Indian guy.” His daughters by his white wife have none of his complexion. Everyone is shocked to see him if they know the girls. They don’t even look Mediterranean.