For a long time I have totally rejected the idea that I’m white – for the simple reason that I’m not, nor am I black, nor in reality is anyone black or white. Instead these were terms invented to highlight the differences between the North-western Indo-European peoples and a variety of African races that in the past were not even recognised as distinct.
So, one day I wondered what exactly was the colour of “black” people versus “white”. And so I took a spot from just above the nose from a white person (at the time Tony Blair the PM) and a black person (some one had recently got publicity in the lords). The idea was to get the colour value. But I knew there wasn’t much difference when I had to check which photo which “patch” came from.
Today I thought I’d have another go at reproducing that. This time I searched for “Black man” and then “white man” and took the first image of each. link, link. Ironically the articles featuring these people suggest one was arrested for racist graffiti and the other is a race supremacist.
And for info, the colours are:
Hex: f7b89b (decimal: 247, 185,155)
Hex: e4b08a (decimal: 228,176,138)
That makes the difference
Making an (RMS) average colour difference equivalent to 6% of the difference between actual white and black. In other words you could say far from being different, “blacks” and “whites” are 15x more alike than we are different.
From this analysis, it is very obvious that humans are far far more sensitive to skin colour (15x) than the actual difference that is present. You could draw the following conclusions:
- Racism is natural – in that we are programmed to see things that distinguish between people
- Racism is learnt – in that we are not looking at the true skin colour instead we are recognising other features and then projecting a false concept of “colour” onto a minuscule difference.
- Skin colour is important for other reasons – such as recognising when someone is healthy, is blushing etc. and it’s just unfortunate that we’re super sensitive to skin colour which then distorts what we see when we see slight changes in hue between different people.
However … before anyone accuses me of being some idiotic rose-tinted-glasses multiculturalist wanting to paint the world in a single hue, it’s also very clear to me that there are some distinct difference between peoples. And in the same way we should stop referring to peoples by skin colours that none of us have, I think we should also be equally honest and forthright about the differences where they do exist.