From Race to Melanin Matters: the Mathematics of Skin Color

Ronald Edward HALL

Professor School of Social Work, Michigan State University, United States of America

Référence électronique
Hall R.E., (2019). « From Race to Melanin Matters: the Mathematics of Skin Color », [En ligne] La Peaulogie 3, mis en ligne le 18 décembre 2019, URL :


Race in America is applied as a biological construct which differentiates the human species by designated race category. However, race absent biological significance is tantamount to a deception. The specific ethnic features such as light skin associated with Caucasian race and dark skin with Negroid race are no longer reliable as a racial trait. The inability of observers to visually identify race in an age of increased miscegenation will necessitate a more comprehensive, mathematically significant measure of human category to effectively confront charges of discrimination via race as socio-economic proxy. In as much as race has brought about socio-economic consequences the mathematically significant measure of skin color will be a necessity for challenging race as socio-economic proxy. By eliminating race from the dynamics of socio-economic proxy, the human species as a whole might eliminate the great race deception to effectively meet its challenges well into the 21st century and beyond.


race, discrimination, black, white, skin color


Race and skin color are among the most dramatic variables in shaping the socio-economic landscape of American society. Race in Western societies such as America is applied as a biological construct which differentiates the human species by designated race category[1] . The transgressions of race pertains to acts of discrimination associated with race category. Alternatively, skin color pertains to a mathematical measure of melanin contained in human skin whereby race category is assessed. Similar to race, skin color allows for acts of discrimination associated with melanin content. In academic discourse, the social science academy processes these acts of discrimination by reference to category of race[2] . Discrimination is then acted out in society by both victim and perpetrator. It is processed per the observable concentration of melanin in human skin. Absent skin color race in society is less discernable. However, when it is discernable the intimate associations of race with skin color are distorted. As pertains to the literature manufactured by the social science academy for public consumption and made available as database content this distorted outcome is problematic for reasons of disproportion. According to ProQuest, a database search revealed the number of published peer-reviewed academic papers pertaining to the aforementioned via the following: race (323,620), skin color (8,997).

The available number of books published on race and skin color is no less a disproportionate distortion than the number of database peer-reviewed academic papers published. According to the same ProQuest database search, the following number of books containing a minimum of race and/or skin color in their titles: race (32,000), skin color (622). Subsequently the accumulation of literature pertaining to skin color pales in comparison to literature pertaining to race. Despite the fact that race unlike skin color is less amenable to a mathematically significant measure it occupies the mainstay of social science discourse. This intellectual distortion presumes a reduced tolerance in the new millennium. Such intolerance is brought by miscegenation of the various race categories that have also decreased in visual distinction. The specific racial features such as light skin associated with European descent and relative dark skin with non-European are no longer reliable as a racial trait[3] . Increased levels of miscegenation i.e. mixed-race, biracial population presents heretofore, unprecedented challenges that will no doubt increase commensurate with those who identify as such.

According to one Western sovereignty, the U.S. Census Bureau in 2013 assessed approximately 9,000,000 Americans who identified themselves as biracial. Between the years of 2000 and 2010 when a biracial category was first provided as a category option, the biracial population in America consisting of a white and a black parent has grown by more than 200%. The Asian and white biracial populations increased in size by 87%. The number of biracial babies born in America has also increased from 1% in 1970 to 10% in 2013. Furthermore, a Pew Research Center (2015) survey suggests that the estimates of the biracial population are an undercount given the complex subjectivity of racial criteria[4].

In aftermath of the 1967 case of Loving v. Virginia[5] and global miscegenation both in the U.S. and increasingly abroad the continued “scientific” authentication of race discourse is tantamount to a deception i.e.: the great race deception. The inability of observers to visually identify race in an age of increased miscegenation will necessitate a more comprehensive, mathematically significant measure of human category to effectively confront accusations of discrimination. The objective of this paper is to enable the efforts of those who challenge the socio-economic proxy and ultimately inform the social science academy of the longstanding great race deception per the following: (a) the concept of race; (b) the “science” of eugenics; (c) skin color as mathematically significant measure of human category; and (d) conclusion: the great race deception.

The Concept of Race

The concept of race was most distinctly defined by Ore (2005[6]) who describes race as a category or group of persons who identify themselves and are identified by others via specific physiological traits. By heredity said traits are common to their gene pool and consistently apparent in offspring. Race differs from ethnicity in that ethnicity includes language, religion, customs, cuisine, etc. Therefore, race pertains to the physiological exclusive of language, religion, customs, cuisine, etc. However, ethnicity may subscribe to both the physical and the non-physical and on occasion overlap with race[7].

Race is universally acknowledged by icons of the social science academy and simultaneously a very fluid system of human distinction. At any given point in time or geographic location, what characterizes the parameters of race may vary or even contradict. Therefore, as pertains to definition race category is said to be a product of local geographic history and its socio-economic circumstances[8]. Eventually, the concept of race emerged from the discourse as to whether or not those characterized by darker skin such as Africans or other non-Europeans were in fact human as opposed to animals. For those confronted by this challenge i.e. their “white” racial superiority compared to other race categories of humanity was a most formidable assumption to deny. Only in recent decades has the social science academy begun to consider the folly in its intellectual discourse[9].

Despite the conclusions of modern-day science, Western civilization throughout its history has wedded itself to the concept of race. The social science academy has invested enormous intellectual resources in the scientific validation of race not withstanding obvious contradictions. Subsequently “white” social scientists justified the existence and validity of race, which served as “white” race socio-economic proxy to facilitate quality of life objectives. The outcomes of these objectives enabled the quality of life for some but in the race concept rationalized the oppression of others where dark skin designated inferior race category. By defaulting of dark skin, light skin designated superior race existent in every purview of Western locations when socio-economically applicable[10]. Leading members of the social science academy dedicate their entire careers to its validation. Thus, in the aftermath of a new millennium the debate as to the existence of race carries on. In the outcome, there remains a formidable discussion as to whether or not race is valid and/or pertains to skin color. Assumptions of the latter serves the categorization of race consisting of Negroid, Caucasoid and Mongoloid the basis of which sustains the inferior/superior race dichotomy[11].

Negroid i.e. Negroes are a race comprised of two distinct subgroups designated as the African Negro and the Oceanic Negro. Their skin color varies from dark brown to black in appearance. The hair texture of Negroes is more often “woolly” or “frizzly” and is normally black in color. Both body and facial hair of Negroes are sparse which serves a tropical climate. In head shape, Negroes are dolichocephalic and have noses, which are flat and broad. The Negro face is characterized by a round forehead and small eyebrow ridges with a receding chin. The eye color ranges from dark brown to black. Negro lips are thick and Negro body stature may vary[12].

The Negro by Negroid subgroup is in many ways physiologically distinct from their unadulterated African counterpart. After years of racial miscegenation, the skin color of the subgroup Negro may vary from light to dark brown. The hair is usually “woolly” but may be wavy to straight via Caucasoid and Mongoloid genes. The head is dolichocephalic and the nose contains both Negroid and Caucasoid characteristics. The subgroup Negro face is furthermore somewhat longer by Caucasian race genes. Said genes also contribute to a wide range of eye colors and medium to thick lips. While the subgroup Negro body stature may vary, most are relatively tall compared to their unadulterated African counterparts[13].

The Caucasoid race is described as having a skin color ranging from olive brown to a pale reddish white. They are more often medium to tall in stature and some are the largest by comparison. Caucasian head shape is for the most part long to broad and short and medium high to very high. Their facial features tend to be narrow to medium broad and high displaying no prognathism. In hair, the Caucasoid ranges in color that is blonde and light brown to dark brown. Blonde hair is not known as a native trait among any other racial group absent Caucasian admixture. Caucasoid hair texture is described as fine to medium, which can be straight to wavy. Caucasian body hair varies from a moderate distribution to plentiful. Their eye color can be light in blue or dark in brown. Occasionally they will exhibit a lateral eye-fold. The Caucasian nasal bridge is more often elevated resulting in a medium to broad form. The Caucasian body type tends to be linear to lateral and slender to rugged[14].

Many of the physical characteristics associated with Mongoloid race approximate a medium between the Negroid and Caucasoid race categories. Mongoloid skin color may vary from a saffron to a yellowish brown. Other Mongoloids may exhibit a skin color that appears to be a reddish brown. In height, Mongoloids reach a medium tall to medium short measure. Their head shape is most often broad and medium high. Among Mongoloids, the face is medium broad to very broad and medium high. Their nasal bridge is usually low to medium and the form, medium broad. Mongoloid hair color tends to be brown to black, and their hair texture can be coarse. The form of the hair is straight while hair on the body is a sparse distribution. Mongoloid eye color ranges from brown to dark brown. Most characteristic of the Mongoloid is the medial epicanthic eye-fold. Their body shape is more often lateral with some linearity[15].

The details associated with the aforementioned race categories are both inconsistent and unscientific[16]. Physiological racial differentiations in fact are characteristic of the human species as a whole. However, despite what some in the academy presume said differentiations have not established the existence of race tantamount to a different species or human category. Thus, for reasons of socio-economic proxy race remains salient in the most prestigious halls of science[17]. Despite its inability to withstand the scrutiny of scientific rigor, a branch of the social science academy evolved committed to the validation of race existence known as “eugenics.”

The “Science” of Eugenics

As pertains to the “science” of eugenics, Caucasian race and its associated features are the Western civilization standard ideal. Said standard ideal race is in fact a pseudoscience common to the auspices of Western eugenics[18]. According to Western eugenics as the “science” of race, the viability of mankind is bound by the ideal select reproductive processing of desired human characteristics for purposes of improving future generations of mankind. This falsely suggests that race is more socio-economically potent than skin color.

Originally the term “eugenics” from race was applied in 1883 by a British scientist and explorer named Francis Galton[19]. Galton was a surrogate of Charles Darwin who devised the notions of “natural selection” and “survival of the fittest.” Eventually after applying Darwinism to lower animals, eugenicists extended the concept to include humanity in an effort to sustain the more “suitable” races for betterment of the species as a whole. References to the underlying racist agenda were prohibited in polite scientific and public discourse. Despite the fact as a product of eugenics social Darwinism as applied to humanity was eventually constructed in the latter 19th century as racial justification for “natural selection” and “survival of the fittest”[20]. In the aftermath, social Darwinism failed to be accepted as a legitimate science in the 1930s and 1940s having been associated with Hitler’s Nazi regime of WWII[21]. However, in a stealth manner, some semblances of race eugenics by pursuit of Caucasian race socio-economic advantage prevailed well into the 19th century and beyond[22].

In an effort to challenge the pseudoscience of race eugenics Stephen Jay Gould in 1981 authored the infamous The Mismeasure of Man[23]. Considering the traditions of legitimate science Gould’s work was motivated by a pre-existing objective to reveal the racist agenda of eugenicists such as Morton who were dedicated to eugenics as justification for Caucasian socio-economic power. In analyzing eugenicist Morton’s work including the measurement of human skulls Gould re-measured said skulls finding bias in Morton’s conclusions. As per Gould, Morton’s results were biased relative to his sample selection. The skulls of females selected were more often smaller than the skulls of males selected. Gould found that Morton had increased the number of female skulls for the inferior Negroid race sample. For the superior Caucasian race sample, most of the skulls selected were from larger males. For other race populations, such as the Mongoloid, Morton selected skulls from the smaller Inca groups rather than from the larger skulls of the larger Iroquois group. After rigorous investigation, Gould concluded that the average measure of the Negroid male skull sample was in fact significantly larger in size than that of the average Caucasian male. Ultimately, Gould concluded via rigorous scientific investigation that evidence supporting the association of intelligence with brain size per racial superiority is non-existent. Thus, dramatically Gould’s investigation was an illustration of eugenics as pseudoscience whereby scientific conclusions are fashioned relative to the construction of the question, the tenor of the sample, the analytical processing of the investigation and the ultimate conclusions drawn. The end result is the manufacture of “science” sustained by prestige of academy[24]. It is by such means that racial classification of human populations has reaped universal acceptance well into the new millennium despite the limited mathematical significance of race category.

Notwithstanding the pseudoscientific conclusions of eugenics, the aforementioned racial classification of human populations is ascertained by the assessment of physical attributes: primarily skin color[25]. This assessment is applied to race as a proxy to accommodate racial outcomes in the quality of human life. Conversely the human population subjected to conquests of one so-called race by another, invasions of one so-called race by another, migrations from one location to another, and various experiences with deportations, humanity is not homogeneous pure but heterogeneous impure[26]. However due to various physical manifestations such as melanin content in skin, skin color, hair texture, head shape, body stature, and nose shape, eugenicists absent scientific rigor have historically agreed upon the three relatively distinct race categories[27]. The assumed validity of Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid races has no rigorous mathematical significance[28]. In as much as race has brought about consequences the mathematically significant measure of skin color will be a necessity for challenging race as proxy in the new millennium and beyond.



Skin Color as Mathematically Significant Measure of Human Category

For purposes of scientific rigor skin color as mathematically significant measure requires the utilization of data. Said data includes nominal, ordinal, interval and ratio variables. Nominal data variables are applied to note mutually exclusive categories. It has no mathematical significance and is most often used by eugenicists to perform statistical calculations on race.

The ordinal variable has a measure of mathematical significance but the values in the order of transition are inconsistent. For example, the color of skin may be assessed using a scale of 1 to 10 in measure of darkness where 1 is lightest and 10 is darkest. A score of 8 suggests darker skin than a score of 4 or 3. However, the difference between the 8 and 4 is not the same as that between 4 and 3. The mathematically significant measure is expressed in the establishment of an order[29].

The interval variable is similar mathematically to the ordinal measure. Both variables pertain to an order. Unlike the ordinal variable, transition in values is consistent. For example, a scale for the measure of skin color extends from 10 to 100 in intervals of 10 where 100 is the darkest. The difference between a color of 10 and 20 is the same as the difference between a color of 90 and 100[30].

Lastly is ratio data. Ratio data is the most mathematically significant variable. Ratio data may incorporate the properties of the aforementioned but is much less limited in the statistical calculations allowable. As per ratio data where X=1 and Y=2, Y is consistently twice the value of X. Unlike race skin color is amenable to all four data forms. Race as traditionally defined is limited to the nominal variable where Y is never twice the mathematical value of X. Therefore, as per scientific rigors of the research method skin color compared to race yields a mathematically significant measure exemplified by a number of published investigations[31].

In the Western nation of Puerto Rico, the skin color of the population assumed to be race varies tremendously. The sample population in one rigorous investigation consisted of 187 subjects. A self-report instrument called the Cutaneo-Chroma-Correlate was utilized to collect nominal skin color data. It included sections “A” “B” and “C.” Section « B » (of the CCC) was used to assess the respondents’ personal values pertaining to skin color[32]. In differentiating responses, a nominal designation of lightest was noted as 5, light as 4, medium as 3, dark as 2, and darkest as 1.

A more mathematically significant measure of skin color was applied using the color tile method. In 1922 Maori anthropologist Te Rangi Hiroa conducted a study of Maori skin color using Maori men of the Western nation of New Zealand’s Maori Battalion armed services. Maori skin color was measured using the von Luschan color scale invented by Felix von Luschan. It consists of 36 glass tiles of various colors, which are compared to the skin color of the subject being measured[33]. The location of measure is ideally an area of skin that is not normally exposed to the sun such as under the arms. Results allow for variables pertaining to nominal, ordinal and interval data, which race does not.

Spectrophotometry is perhaps a more mathematically significant measure of skin color than the Von Luschan color tile method. The color tile method may vary by the source of the measure, which compromises consistency by source subjectivity. Alternatively, spectrophotometry is a quantitative measurement of light reflection from a surface such as human skin relative to wavelength. Due to the mathematical significance of measures, the spectrophotometric measure allows for unlimited statistical calculations and hence more exactness[34]. Invention of the spectrophotometric measure in the early fifties replaced the color tile method for its consistency and mathematical potential.

Melanin in human skin is the ingredient that produces skin color[35]. It is a dark biological pigment which occurs throughout the species universe and found not only in skin, but hair, feathers, scales, eyes, and a number of internal membranes. Melanin is most obvious in the dark skin moles of humans; also in the dark dermal melanocytes or pigment cells of most of the world’s dark-skinned peoples. It may also occur as brown, scattered spots located in the skin’s epidermis. When melanin is lacking, the result is a deformed condition called albinism[36]. Subsequently as pertains to homo sapiens dark skin is the normal condition that when absent melanin precipitates numerous organism dysfunctions.

Melanin, unlike the color tile and spectrophotometer method is consistent throughout the body because it is located at the cellular level. The greater the melanin content the darker the skin. Thus, the ultimate mathematically significant measure of human skin color is extraction of the ingredient from a sample of skin. Said measure will not vary by source of the extraction, which will reveal mathematically significant data. Such significant data allows for any number of statistical calculations. However, extraction of melanin via skin sample is the most invasive of the measuring methods. It may impose health risks upon the subject and thus more complicated for investigation approval than the color tile or spectrophotometer methods. For this reason, its use is not practical and less preferred unless dictated by critical circumstances. Therefore, by deference to race exclusive of skin color the social science academy sustains the great race deception[37].

Conclusion: The Great Race Deception

In 1996 Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray published their infamous book titled The Bell Curve. The Bell Curve is rife with eugenics, which suggested by race a scientific socio-economic proxy. In an effort to justify oppression and rescue the ethics of society Herrnstein and Murray rationalized black failure as a consequence of low intelligence. Therefore, as members of an inferior race characterized by naturally low intelligence expectations blacks suffered via preferred quality of life as unrealistic. In the aftermath are falling rates of black socio-economic status and a tendency toward increased rates of criminal behavior among black youth and adults. Recognition of these facts then necessitate tax dollars spent on black development programs and other assistance measures according to The Bell Curve authors which amounted to wasteful spending. Said conclusions for wasteful spending drew upon select existing facts but similar to Morton’s work on the brain size differential between superior and inferior races organized select facts to sustain a preferred outcome[38]. The ultimate objective was to standardize white privilege by scientific justification at the expense of black oppression. What’s most dramatic about this work is that despite a lacking in rigorous scientific methodology The Bell Curve was located on the New York Times Best Sellers List for several weeks following its publication[39]. Decades later, it remains available for purchase as does interest in its thesis on the part of learned citizens. Therefore, the existence of eugenics in the new millennium is no less a fact currently despite what rhetoric might suggest.

Enabled by the works of Herrnstein and Murray race operates as a plausible dynamic in the functions of Western society. The eugenics of race and other manifestations of a pseudoscience have sustained in society the great race deception. Despite being a deception race is validated nonetheless by prestige of the academy in number of books and peer reviewed papers published. The language pertaining to superior race is often controversial and polemic. Despite the fact, editors defend its publication on the basis of free speech and scientific endeavor[40]. Similar eugenic trends in thought are suggested by black scholars, which the academy has wholly rejected. One such trend is apparent in white inferiority put forth by Welsing’s (1970) Cress Theory[41]. As a psychiatrist, Welsing has proposed a scientific rationale for racism and color confrontation on the part of Western nations, which the same editors reject as too polemic and/or controversial. Free speech and scientific endeavor by the same editors for the same reasons are ignored because the Cress Theory does not sustain the great race deception.

Today the academy celebrates diversity and efforts to end racial prejudice[42]. Such a trend has brought about increases in the number of inter-racial marriages and hence mixed-race births. However, the great race deception has not terminated. It is no less operative in the dynamics of society today than in years past. Oppression and discrimination prevail as a social transgression ever active as an imposition upon black quality of life. In place of race, more often as proxy is skin color. Skin color has historically served as racial designate[43]. However, the less discernable features of mixed-race offspring have reduced race to skin color exclusively. The mathematical significance of skin color suggests it will be much more potent in the future of socio-economic proxy than race. It extends across racial lines thereby causing chaos that will enhance white privilege. Light skin will replace Caucasian and simultaneously sustain the race concept by implication[44].

The concept of race has operated historically as the engine of Western civilization. Neither victim nor perpetrator escaped its influence. Negroid is replaced by dark skin and Caucasoid by light skin regardless of racial or ethnic identity. The Black/White binary will be sustained via dark-skinned as black and all light-skinned other as white. The same socio-economic directives will apply associating dark skin with inferior race[45]. Absent direct reference to Negroid or Caucasoid the great race deception will prevail deep into the current millennium and potentially beyond.

Just as race is the engine of Western society, eugenics is the engine of the great race deception. In the aftermath of a black Western U.S. President, the mention of eugenics in social science discourse is non-existent for civil serving reasons. Its acknowledgement is much too course for the professed aspirations of modern-day science. However, application of eugenics in the operation of the great race deception is no less effective in sustaining the race proxy. No less than a strategy to meet and terminate the operation of eugenics will be required to eliminate the tenacious existence of race.

Human nature has historically subscribed to the notion of group category. Race, religion, geographic location, etc. have all served to denote an in-group out-group arrangement. Subsequently civil discord in a heterogeneous society becomes virtually impossible by such an arrangement. Access to quality of life opportunities is diminished by the objective of one group to exceed the progress of another which the notion of race only exacerbates[46]. Skin color greatly reduces such a possibility. It incorporates the notion of humanity exceeding all racial, religious, geographic locations, etc. The much less complex in-group/out-group dichotomy by skin color remains but by comparison to race allows for more civil discourse. Furthermore, the mathematical measure of skin color given to the scientific method fosters an objectivity much more conducive to civil discourse and hence problem resolution. By eliminating race from the dynamics of socio-economic proxy, the human species as a whole might eliminate the great race deception to effectively meet its challenges well into the 21st century and beyond.

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