It’s Simple, Yet Complicated
If you’ve been keeping up with my blog you’d see a common pattern in most of my posts. I talk about race a lot because to me, It’s an important conversation. Race is a part of my life and I want to inform and educate the side that I know. My whole life has been surrounded with questions. Are you really mixed? Why are you so pale? Trust me, I’ve been curious about this too. I know people come in all sorts of different shapes, sizes and colors, but why do I look the way I do and others look the way they do?
I met with Dr. John Doucet, Professor of Biological Sciences with research interests in Genetics, at Nicholls State University. When I sat down and talked to Dr. Doucet about Genetics, he said that genetics are simple yet more complicated than eye and hair color. Dr. Doucet explained that several things determine skin color, but there’s only 10 genes that make it up. Only 10! There are cells in the body that are called Melanocytes that look like little spiders. No one can see them, but the Melanocytes produce pigment called melanin. Melanin spreads out until your whole skin is branded a certain color. So, the amount of melanin you can produce is all genetic, but it’s also highly variable. There’s several genes that make up the structure of the cell and if you have a mutation on any of those, your skin is not going to have the melanin it should.
This is the part that explained what happened in my case and others like me….
With all of these parts of the genes, sometimes genes don’t have dominance over the others. In many and most cases, if there is an African American partner in a relationship and a Causation partner, the children come out looking like one or the other, and the dark skin color is typically dominant. But not all genes that control skin color are dominant… Some are said to be incompletely dominant. In my case, my parents may have given me genes that don’t show one or the other but basically show a blend of the two! Here’s a look at different faces of people like me…notice all of our different dominant and non-dominant genes.
Dr. Doucet explained that scientists don’t know all the rules that determine skin color but they know that there is an incredible variation of it in the human population. They also know that there are a lot of genes that determine it and many of the genes don’t decide all one color or all of the other; there are different variations of the two. My father had a gene that he transferred to me that is not completely dominant over my mother’s. And that explains why I am darker than my mom, but still lighter than him. I am a mix of the two.
So there’s my answer. There’s your answer. Of course this isn’t just for mixed people, this determines everyone’s skin color. Even skin thickness determines things. If you have a thin epidermis and a little melanin you could look darker, so there are a lot of confounding factors.
Interesting isn’t it..? Dr. Doucet brought up a really good point in that skin color is basically that, It’s just a color of your skin and people shouldn’t judge anyone one just that.