Melanin theory

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Melanin theory is a pseudoscientific, racist ideology based on the supposed properties of melanin, the primary determinant of skin color in humans.[1][2][3][4][5] Melanin theory argues that higher levels of melanin are directly correlated with increased intelligence, creativity, physical prowess and supernatural abilities.[1]


According to Bernard Ortiz De Montellano of Wayne State University, "The alleged properties of melanin, mostly unsupported, irrelevant, or distortions of the scientific literature, are (...) used to justify Afrocentric assertions. One of the most common is that humans evolved as blacks in Africa, and that whites are mutants (albinos, or melanin recessives)".[6][7] The melanin hypothesis was supported by Leonard Jeffries, who according to Time magazine, believes that "melanin, the dark skin pigment, gives blacks intellectual and physical superiority over whites".[8]

Notable proponents[1][9][edit]

In popular culture[edit]

In 2006, the views of adherents and critics of melanin theory were dramatized in Cassandra Medley's play, Relativity.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Ortiz de Montellano, Bernard R. (17 Dec 2006). "Afrocentric Pseudoscience: The Miseducation of African Americans". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (New York Academy of Sciences) 775: 561–572. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.1996.tb23174.x. 
  2. ^ Jaroff, Leon (24 June 2001), "Teaching Reverse Racism", Time, retrieved 24 July 2016 
  3. ^ Forgotten Science: Strange Ideas from the Scrapheap of History,S. D. Tucker, 2016
  4. ^ African American Racism in the Academic Community, Barry Mehler
  5. ^ Philosophy of African American Studies: Nothing Left of Blackness, Stephen C. Ferguson
  6. ^ Ortiz De Montellano, Bernard. "Magic Melanin: Spreading Scientific Illiteracy Among Minorities ". Skeptical Inquirer. Spring 1992.
  7. ^ Ernest Cashmore, James Jennings, Racism: essential readings, SAGE, 2001, p.181-2.
  8. ^ Controversies: The Provocative Professor, Time, By LANCE MORROW, Sunday, June 24, 2001
  9. ^ Ortiz de Montellano, Bernard R. (1993), "Afrocentricity, Melanin, and Pseudoscience", Yearbook of Physical Anthropology 36, pp. 33–58 
  10. ^ Neil Genzlinger, "Science and Race Issues Clash in Cassandra Medley's 'Relativity'", The New York Times, May 2, 2006