Many of us have pre formed ideas, based on our experience, of the importance, and meaning of race; which is usually identified first by skin color. North America is a region that is transitioning to a darker population in terms of skin pigmentation. While this has caused stressors in society, Jablonski shows that the pre-historical and evolutionary evidence better fits the idea of one humanity, regardless of color. See of you agree with her.

Discussion Answers:

  1. What are the health problems related to skin color, both light and dark?
    •      Those with a light pigmentation are at risk for skin cancer and destruction of folate in the body due to too much sun
    •      Those with a dark pigmentation who live in high latitude areas or work inside are at risk of vitamin D deficiency
      •      Vitamin D deficiency causes bones, gradual immune system decay or loss of function, as well as mood and mental health problems, due to lack of UVB radiation
  2. She mentioned that skin color has had social consequences? Discuss what those consequences are. Has there been a change in those consequences?
    •      Between 1520 and 1867, 12,000,500 people move from high UV areas to low UV areas during the trans-Atlantic slave trade
    •      Living in environments where our skin is inherently poorly adapted
      •      Lightly pigmented skin in high UV areas, darkly pigments skins in low UV areas
    •      We live in a world where we have lightly and darkly pigmented people living next to each other
    •      January 2009, Obama became the first moderately pigmented president in the U.S.
    •      Darker pigmented people who work indoors, or run a desk job like Obama, run the risk of vitamin-D deficiency
  3. She says that the skin we live in is evidence for evolution (even though Darwin thought not). Discuss whether she has made an adequate case for her statement.
  4. Let’s try to look at the evidence for her hypothesis (geography is related to skin color). Go to the Internet and locate photographic images of people from various geographic locations and compare them. Write up your results and present them to another person. Do they agree with you? Are there other conclusions that could be drawn? If you were going to improve your study, what changes would you make?
  5. Do some research on words used to describe skin color at various locations in the world (hint, people in the Southern Hemisphere have a different number of word labels than people in the Northern Hemisphere).

See Full Ted Talk: Skin Color is an Illusion

Skin Color is an Illusion


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