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Human Skin Is Brown: Not Black, White, Red, or Yellow

Updated on November 4, 2018
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

History, politics, and spirituality supply writing topics that help me keep my essay writing strong, supporting claims and reporting facts.

Only One Race



No Two Skins Tones the Same
No Two Skins Tones the Same | Source

The Monochromic Human Race

Most of us learned in school that "metaphor" is a poetic device used mostly by poets in their poems. It says one thing is another for literary effect, for example, Robert Frost’s speaker in his poem, "Bereft," claims: "Leaves got up in a coil and hissed / Blindly struck at my knees and missed."

Frost is metaphorically saying that leaves are a snake. But note well: No part of humanity has ever insisted that leaves are the same as snakes, yet that is exactly what has happened to the metaphor of color: black, white, red, and yellow have become the societal, political designation for the seven billion plus individuals who inhabit this planet we call Earth.

Have you ever seen a person whose skin is actually "white," "black," "red," or "yellow"?

Of course, you know that Caucasians are "white," Africans are "black," American Indians are "red," and Asians are "yellow" — but look again. Does that white guy’s skin really look like the white on the piano keys? Or more like the grass in winter?

Is that black guy’s skin more like the piano keys or the chocolate of the Hershey bar? Is the American Indian's skin the color of strawberry or more like an well-circulated copper penny? Is the Asian’s "yellow" skin more like the skin on a banana or like the gravy that covered your biscuits this morning?

There is a world of difference between the literal "colors" and the actual tones of skin tones. Yet the madness of accepting the metaphor of color to dictate differences in human beings has caused untold suffering in human history.

The lack of understanding regarding the metaphor of skin color has caused and continues cause deaths based on idiotic comparisons that do no exist. Until it is understood that the prevailing designations of skin colors of white, black, red, and yellow are merely metaphors, the animosity and bloodshed will continue.

The Fact: Only Varying Shades of Brown

Such a simple fact: there is only one race, the human race, and its skin color varies from light to dark "brown":

In biology, a grouping has biological meaning based on principles of common descent—the Darwinian idea that all members of the group share a common ancestry. On this basis, and on the ability to interbreed, all humans are grouped into one species as Homo sapiens, the only surviving member of the various species that the genus comprised. Species are arranged within the “tree of life,” a hierarchical classification that situates each species in only one genus, that genus only in one family and so on. (Jan Sapp, "Race Finished," The American Scientist)

Skin colors range from light brown to dark brown: but they are all "brown," not "white," "black," "yellow," or even "red," "olive," etc. They are all brown, ranging from dark to light. It’s that simple.

So what’s all the fuss about? A stupid misunderstanding based on the struggle for political supremacy.

The insane conundrum of "race" results when the human race tries to section and classify itself into different races. Because human beings belong to the same race, the false classifications are always wrong, temporary, or meaningless.

Human Classifications According to Race

Supposedly, there are, at least, three races: Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid. But identifying members of each of these so-called races becomes impossible.

The most insidious quality used in the attempt to classify according to race is skin tone: black, white, yellow. Yet, as we have determined, there is not one single individual on this planet who is black, white, or yellow.

As noted earlier, the skin color of all human beings, that is, members of the only true scientific race—“human race, homo sapiens”— is brown: from light brown, mistakenly called “white” to dark brown, mistakenly called “black.” And all shades, hues, and tones in between, some of which are mistakenly called “yellow” and even “red.” Even the lightest skin tone is not “white,” and the darkest “skin tone” is not black.

But because the human race fancies a need to section itself off and classify itself, we end up with “blacks” and “whites” hating each other based on falsely labeled skin tone. The terms “black,” "white,” and “yellow” are essentially “metaphors.” People hate each other based on “metaphors” of color:

Although race is void of biological foundation, it has a profound social reality. All too apparent are disparities in health and welfare. Despite all the evidence indicating that “race” has no biological or evolutionary meaning, the biological-race concept continues to gain strength today in science and society, and it is reinforced by those who design and market DNA-based technologies. Race is used more and more in forensics, medicine and the genetic-ancestry business. Tattersall and DeSalle confront those industries head on and in no uncertain terms, arguing that “race-based medicine” and “raced-based genomics” are deeply flawed. Individuals fall ill, not populations. Belonging to any socioculturally defined race is a poor predictor of an individual’s genes, and one’s genes a poor predictor of one’s health. (Jan Sapp, "Race Finished," The American Scientist)

Many Caucasoid individuals are dark brown, darker than those mislabeled “black.” Many Hindus, even those who are racially Caucasoid, have a very dark skin tone, while many Negroids are much lighter.

The Equator and Skin Tone

The closer the individual lives to the Equator the darker the skin tone. This is common sense. The stronger the sun on the skin, the more melanin is made by the body. Melanin protects the skin from the sun: "Melanin, the skin's brown pigment, is a natural sunscreen that protects tropical peoples from the many harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays" (Smithsonian Natural Museum of Natural History, "What Does it Mean to be Human?"

Clearly, not all Caucasoids are “white,” that is, light brown; not all Negroids are “black,” that is, dark brown. The Mongoloid skin tone also exhibits a wide range of brown hues, none yellow or red.

Confusion of Race, Religion, Nationality

“Race” refers only to the major three classes and their subclasses: Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid.

“Religion” refers to spiritual traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and the various branches that have grown from these major categories.

“Nationality” refers to the region of the earth an individual inhabits, particularly the nation or country.

Yet we often hear “the Jewish race.” “Jewish” refers to a religion, not race. We hear that some “whites” are “racist” against Hispanics. But “Hispanic” refers to nationality, not race.

Jews and Hispanics may be of any of the race classes. A Negroid individual may be Jewish, if Judaism is his religion. And he may be Hispanic, if he is a native of Spain or Latin American.

Clearly, we need a better way of classifying ourselves, if we must classify ourselves. "Race" has not worked well, and it is likely it never will.


No Racial Prejudice, Please!


The Debunking of Race

I am not black, you are not white

© 2015 Linda Sue Grimes


Submit a Comment

  • Maya Shedd Temple profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Sue Grimes 

    12 months ago from U.S.A.

    Thank you, Patricia! There is a meme afloat that states, "There is only one race. The human race." You are exactly right in stating that "essence of our being is much larger than" the cultural differences that exist among us. The soul of each individual has no color, no sex, no class, no identity other than pure Spirit. Until we all learn that simple fact, there will be division based on identity.

    Thanks again, Patricia. Blessings to you and thank you for the angels.

  • pstraubie48 profile image

    Patricia Scott 

    12 months ago from sunny Florida

    We are the family of humans more alike in so many ways than the minor differences that separate us. Yes we have cultural differences but the essence of our being is much larger than that. We need to get on with loving each other....not to say that we ignore injustice but that we work together in meaningful ways to close the gaps that exist between us.

    Well said. Angels are headed your way this morning ps

  • Maya Shedd Temple profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Sue Grimes 

    19 months ago from U.S.A.

    Nell, you make an excellent point about culture contributing to the differences between human beings. I think a useful essay could be composed focusing on some specifics surrounding that issue. Maybe I'll give it some thought.

    Thanks for the comment and the insightful contribution!

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 

    19 months ago from England

    Hi, interesting article and one I totally agree with. We categorize people and that's where the problem starts. It is culture that makes us different not color. but even that should be something we embrace not argue with.

  • Maya Shedd Temple profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Sue Grimes 

    3 years ago from U.S.A.

    Thank you, HSchneider! Interesting Star Trek episode summary. I do believe that classification can be useful for informing human knowledge, but when it comes to classifying humans, the very ability to classify seems to lose its grip. Even classifying ourselves by sex/gender has turned out to be dubious. It's a fascinating journey we're on here!

  • profile image

    Howard Schneider 

    3 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

    It is amazing how much human beings need to label each other. In turn, they begin to place values on these labels and prejudice and bigotry are born. Hopefully some day this will disappear especially within the United States though I doubt any time soon. This reminds me of a Star Trek episode where 2 alien men are chasing each other because of an in bred hatred. Both men are striped black and white. They were asked why they hated each other because they were both visually the same. They looked at them amazed. One man had the black stripe on the left and the other on the right. Yes it was ridiculous but no more so than our own visual prejudices. Wonderful Hub, Maya. Great food for thought.

  • Maya Shedd Temple profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Sue Grimes 

    3 years ago from U.S.A.

    Big E, what an odd question, especially following this article that disavows the "white" vs "black" distinctions. Makes me wonder if you even read the article.

    But here's a stab at answering your question: almost any light-brown skin tone can be darkened by sunlight or chemicals. While other features do figure into the illusion of black vs white, the major one is skin tone.

    Hope this helps.

  • profile image

    Big E 

    3 years ago

    Is it possible for a white person with brown eyes to change their appearance to black? If so how?


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