News which Upsets the Idea of Race

on July 24, 2010

BBC News: “Baby Tale Not Black and WhiteOut of Britain comes more news that upsets the idea of “race.”

Last January we covered news of British babies Leah and Miya Durrant: biological twins despite the fact that one had light brown skin, blue eyes, and red hair (like her mother) while the other had dark brown hair and skin (like her father). Along with two older siblings that also looked to be from different “races,” the family was a stark visual rebuttal to the idea that “race” is a meaningful term.

"She’s a miracle baby. But still, what on earth happened here?”

Although the story isn’t quite the same, another British couple has once again overturned casual assumptions about skin, hair, and eye color inheritance and shown race to be a specious concept. The Sun reports on Angela Ihegboro and her husband Ben, who, along with their son Chisom and daughter Dumebi, all have dark brown skin, hair, and eyes—reflecting their Nigerian heritage. But newly born daughter Nmachi has pale, sand-colored skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes—“white,” but not albino (as was confirmed by doctors).

Angela explained that she was “speechless” when first seeing the baby, which was delivered via caesarean section. But she added, “She’s beautiful and I love her. Her colour doesn’t matter. She’s a miracle baby. But still, what on earth happened here?”

Geneticists are puzzled with Nmachi’s appearance, because neither Ben nor Angela are aware of any ancestors with light hair or skin—although Ben’s (Nigerian) mother has blue eyes. Oxford University geneticist Bryan Sykes, who called the birth “extraordinary,” suggested an unknown mutation may be at work: “The rules of genetics are complex and we still don’t understand what happens in many cases.” Fox News reports that the Ihegboros will work with geneticists who hope to determine the genetics behind Nmachi’s unexpected coloration.

As with the Durrant story and many others, the Ihegboros’ new daughter reminds us of the fluidity and inaccuracy of the idea that there are multiple human races, each with sharp boundaries such as hair or eye color. Even the idea that a “black” couple had a “white” baby falsely portrays human skin color, which in actuality is merely different shades of brown (determined by more or less melanin in the skin). We all belong to a single human race (Acts 17:26), with many types of superficial differences having arisen or become more pronounced since the dispersion at Babel.

Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! (Note: if the story originates from the Associated Press, Fox News, MSNBC, the New York Times, or another major national media outlet, we will most likely have already heard about it.) And thanks to all of our readers who have submitted great news tips to us.

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