The One Story: HBCUs And The Gatekeeping Of Black Culture
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UPDATED: 6:00a.m. ET, April 28, 2022

Black people are amazing! A rich legacy of innovation, music, and culture runs rampant across the diaspora. We’ve been known to shake up the world with our resilience, fight back against social and economic injustice, and create some of the most advanced forms of technology that would go out to impact the world.  Did you know a Black woman by the name of Mary Van Brittan Brown created the home security system in 1966? Legendary African American singer and songwriter, Chuck Berry, was responsible for ushering in the genre of Rock, although Elvis usually takes all the credit, and, Mansa Musa, a 14th-century African ruler of the Mali empire was once the richest man in the world, acquiring a boatload (that doesn’t even cut it) of wealth from land and gold obtained during his reign across West Africa.

Well, while those aforementioned tidbits may be widely known about the greatness of Black people’s achievements far and wide, it appears as though internet users are searching for some more obscure questions about the community that may or may not be so easily answered. Thankfully, due to the power of Google, we’re able to find answers to the world’s most pressing questions, even those about Black people, and let us tell you, there are a ton of commonly searched questions like, “Do Black people sweat more?” or “Do Black people get shingles?” Heck, folks even wonder if we eat pumpkin pie!  Well, NEWS-ONE is here to break down all of your questions. So, let’s get into it.


Do black people get sunburn?

Of course, we do, but it’s a little bit more difficult for Black folks to get sunburnt because of our rich melanin. According to Healthline, “It’s a skin pigment produced by skin cells called melanocytes.” Melanin works wonders for us because it can block harmful UV rays from penetrating our skin and guess what? The darker you are, the more melanin you have, which ultimately helps thwart off more of those pesky UV rays. According to the CDC, about “13 percent of black women ” have sunburn compared to “9 percent of Black men.”


Do black people get skin cancer?

Now, unfortunately, long-term exposure to the sun can increase our risk for skin cancer.

Healthline notes that people of darker hues can detect early signs of skin cancer by looking into their mouths for any abnormalities. Consult a doctor if you see the following:

  • dark spots, growths, or patches that appear to be changing
  • patches that feel rough and dry
  • dark lines underneath or around fingernails and toenails

Do black people need sunscreen?

Yes! While Black people do have greater protection against the sun, they are still vulnerable to the risks of ultraviolet rays. Black people can develop hyperpigmentation and potential scarring if exposed to beaming sunlight for too long. They are also almost four times more likely to be diagnosed with advanced-stage melanoma than white people because there’s an assumption that Black people aren’t at risk of developing the disease, according to Health Line. Common symptoms like skin ulcerations and lumps often go unnoticed. Dermatologists recommend that everyone regardless of skin color, use an SPF skin protectant of 30 or higher to help their skin fight back against harmful UV rays.


Can black people have blonde hair?

Yes! The blonde hair trait is quite rare, but some Black people with blonde hair can be found in parts of Europe, Melanesia, and among a few aboriginal tribes in Australia.

More commonly, about 10 percent of indigenous people from the Solomon Islands have strikingly blonde hair. A team of researchers were able to analyze saliva samples of more than 1,000 islanders and found that the people possessed a gene called TYRP1, which has been known to cause mutations within skin pigmentation in humans, the New York Times (NYT) noted. Interestingly, when researchers dug deeper, they noticed that the special gene variant wasn’t found in Europeans, which was where many people believed the melanated community of the Solomon Islands inherited their blonde tresses.

Carlos Bustamente, a geneticist at Stanford University behind the massive study, told the NYT:

“For me, it breaks down any kind of simple notions you might have about race. Humans are beautifully diverse, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

That’s a fact Bustamente!


Do black people have blue eyes?

Yes, we most certainly can and it’s because of another complex gene variant called OCA2 which causes mutations within melanin. Fun fact, melanin can not only be found in skin but it’s present in our eyes too!  It’s the substance that’s used to give our hair, eyes, and skin color.

According to Professor Hans Eiberg from the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, at one point everyone had brown eyes, but as humans evolved, the OCA2 gene caught some sort of funky genetic mutation that prompted the chromosome to “switch off,” reducing the production of melanin in the iris. This is what caused brown eyes to slowly morph into blues eyes. Sounds pretty strange, right? Well, Black folks with blue eyes are affected by the same OCA2 genetic mutation. Researchers aren’t quite sure where the hiccup originated from, but, according to The Independent, a few scientists believe it arose “about 10,000 years ago” as the population of Europe and the Middle East expanded.

“The mutations responsible for blue eye color most likely originate from the north-west part of the Black Sea region, where the great agricultural migration of the northern part of Europe took place in the Neolithic periods about 6,000 to 10,000 years ago,” the publication noted.

Eiberg studied the DNA of 800 people with blue eyes from varying countries ranging from “fair-skinned, blond-haired Scandinavians to dark-skinned, blue-eyed people living in Turkey and Jordan.” He found that they all shared the OCA2 gene in common.

“All of them, apart from possibly one exception, had exactly the same DNA sequence in the region of the OCA2 gene,” he explained of the extraordinary data. “This to me indicates very strongly that there must have been a single, common ancestor of all these people,” he added.

Well, there you have it.


Are black people more athletic?

Alright, now this one might be a little tough to answer. The short answer is…. no one knows. There isn’t any tangible evidence to suggest that Black people are faster runners, better sprinters, or even better basketball players. It’s a metaphysical quality that is very abstract.

Do black people age better?

Ever heard of the term “Black don’t crack?” Well, turns out there might be some truth behind the phrase. A 2020 study conducted by a facial plastic surgeon at Rutgers Medical School examined the facial structures of a group of 20 Black individuals– 14 men and six women, aged mid-forties and older. The interesting study found that over a ten-year time period minimal change occurred in the participants’ bone structure compared to similar studies conducted on white subjects. So, while Black facial structures do appear to age, it happens at a much slower rate than in white faces.

“It’s medically known that axial bone, which is bone found in the rest of your body like the long bones or your legs, your arms, that’s always been denser in Black people on average,” Dr. David Buziashvili, a researcher behind the case study told Essence during an interview. “So we wanted to see if that was the same case for the face, even though it’s a different type of bone. It turned out to be pretty damn similar.”

Buziashvili said there are “multiple reasons” why Black people age gracefully.

“One is obviously the skin color. Black people have darker skin and thus they have better resistance to the sun. But, it’s also the bone density,” he continued. “Basically what we measured in this study was straight up measurements like lines and angles, but there’s another study that we were working on that had to do with density, actually measuring on the CT scan how dense is the bone in this area and then remeasuring that same area, of that same patient, maybe 10, 15 years down the line.”

Do black people get acne?

Everyone gets acne, and yes, even Black people, too, but Black folks may be prone to different types of acne. A form of skin acne that Black people are more susceptible to is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, where parts of the skin may appear darker than others.

According to WebMD, the condition can occur when the skin makes extra melanin after it has been irritated or injured. In addition to acne, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can appear on the skin after a bug bite, eczema, or a skin rash.



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