Melanin theory

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Melanin theory is a claim in Afrocentrism that a higher level of melanin, the primary determinant of skin color in humans, is the cause of an intellectual and physical superiority of dark-skinned people and provides them with superior abilities or even mystical/supernatural ones. It is a racist, pseudoscientific theory.[1][2][3][4][5]


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[edit]

Notable promoters of the melanin theory include:[1][9]

In popular culture[edit]

In 2006, the views of adherents and critics of melanin theory were dramatized in Cassandra Medley's play, Relativity.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Ortiz de Montellano, Bernard R. (17 Dec 2006). "Afrocentric Pseudoscience: The Miseducation of African Americans". Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 775: 561–572. doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.1996.tb23174.x. Archived from the original on 5 January 2013.
  2. ^ Jaroff, Leon (4 April 1994), "Teaching Reverse Racism", Time, vol. 143 no. 14, p. 74, retrieved 24 July 2016
  3. ^ Tucker, S. D. (2016), "Science Fictions: Technological Utopia, Objectivity, and Other Scientific Myths", Forgotten Science: Strange Ideas from the Scrapheap of History, Amberley Publishing Limited, ISBN 9781445648385
  4. ^ Mehler, Barry (Fall 1993), "African American Racism in the Academic Community", Retrieved from the Institute for the Study of Academic Racism (ISAR), Ferris State University. First published in The Review of Education, 15 (3/4), retrieved 12 August 2016
  5. ^ Ferguson, Stephen C. (2015), Philosophy of African American Studies: Nothing Left of Blackness, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 56, 66–67, ISBN 9781137549976
  6. ^ Ortiz De Montellano, Bernard (Spring 1992), "Magic Melanin: Spreading Scientific Illiteracy Among Minorities", Skeptical Inquirer
  7. ^ Cashmore, Ernest; Jennings, James (2001), Racism: Essential Readings, SAGE, pp. 181–182, ISBN 9781446265482
  8. ^ Morrow, Lance (24 June 2001), "Controversies: The Provocative Professor", Time, vol. 138 no. 8, p. 19
  9. ^ De Montellano, Bernard R. Ortiz (1 January 1993). "Melanin, afrocentricity, and pseudoscience". American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 36 (S17): 33–58. doi:10.1002/ajpa.1330360604. ISSN 1096-8644.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Neil Genzlinger, "Science and Race Issues Clash in Cassandra Medley's 'Relativity'", The New York Times, May 2, 2006