Blonde hair is beautiful; it has the effect of taking years off your face, resulting in a more youthful and lifted appearance. It’s a color trend that can ramp up your style in many ways, such as ombre and balayage to give a soft, feminine look, or even platinum, which is fierce and edgy.
Yet no matter how well executed these color trends are on black men and women, there always comes a point in time when someone has to put their two cents in, saying something along the lines of, “Why do you have blonde hair? Are you trying to be white?”
This ignorant comment not only places claim to this particular genetic trait as belonging solely to European Americans, but also seeks to shame the black man or woman who chooses to wear their hair in this particular color.
Well, next time you hear this ignorance you can let that person know that the word is out: Black people also have naturally blonde hair, as evidenced by the naturally blonde haired Melanesians and Aborgines.
Certain physical traits do not belong solely to one particular racial group, they are determined entirely by the beautifully random nature of genes, which are subject to mutation and can create an array of attributes within any race that account for the diversity of the human race.
A single gene is the difference
The Melanesians of the Solomon Islands, just east of Papua New Guinea and north of Australia, have ancestry that can be directly traced to Africa, yet a good portion of them are naturally blonde.
The percentage of the population that exhibits this trait is about ten percent, and the trait, though not limited to them, has a higher prevalence in children. For quite some time their blonde features were attributed to past imperial rulership by European countries like Germany and the UK.
The popular claim at the time was that this trait was a direct result of Europeans breeding with the native islanders. This theory, although widely accepted, was greatly disputed by the islanders themselves, who insisted that the blonde hair was a trait innately belonging to their people.
None of their disagreements were given any clout until years later when Dutch geneticist, Stephen Myles, from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, was studying the islanders and took notice of the fact that there was very little variation between the shades of blonde that the Melanesians exhibited.
He ruled out the idea of genetic variation by inheritance and sought to prove his hypothesis. He and a team of colleagues collected saliva and hair samples from 1,200 Solomon Islanders. Out of this large sample, 43 blonde and 42 dark haired islanders were chosen for DNA comparison.
What they discovered was that the gene that determined hair pigmentation had a single protein difference between the two groups.
The exchange of this protein was the single determinant of the outcome of either blonde or dark hair. The gene is found only in Melanesian people, proving that their naturally occurring blonde hair is not an inherited European trait, but an outcome of random genetic mutation over time.