Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Yagazie Emezi
The Phenomenon Of Black People With Blonde Hair
It’s common to associate blonde hair with Europe, where you’ll find the highest percentage of naturally blonde people. The Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Denmark, and Norway have plenty. You’ll also find a healthy amount in Germany, The Netherlands, and Finland. But did you know that some Black people have naturally blonde hair?
It’s a testament to just how broad and diverse the African diaspora is. Like our skin tones, there’s great variety in our hair texture and color.
Famous Black people have dabbled in the blonde aesthetic, from Mary J. Blige to Beyoncé, but the number of Black Americans with naturally blonde hair is quite low. To find more of them, you’ll have to visit a cluster of islands in the South Pacific.
What Causes Blonde Hair?
Hair color, like other physical traits, is genetic and passed down through generations. There are two types of pigment that determine a person’s hair color — eumelanin and pheomelanin.
If eumelanin is dominant, black or brown hair will result. If there’s more pheomelanin, the hair color will likely be orange or red. As Luna DNA explains, “Blonde hair has both types of melanin, but in very small amounts, and loosely packed.”
Approximately 2% of people in the world have naturally blonde hair. It’s possible to be blonde as a child and wind up with darker hair as you age. On the blonde spectrum, platinum blonde is especially rare.
Where Are Black People With Blonde Hair From?
The majority of Black people who are naturally blonde aren’t in the United States. The aptly named Melanesians, inhabit the Solomon Islands of the South Pacific. They are believed to have migrated from Africa to Oceania approximately 50,000 years ago.
According to The Diasporic Dish, “the term ‘Melanesia’ was coined in 1832, by Bory de Saint-Vincent, an officer in the French Navy.”
The Melanesians have intrigued scientists and others for many years. There are a few theories that could explain why these people have such bright, blonde hair.
News One reports, “Some researchers believe this indigenous group developed the unique feature from sun and salt whitening. Others point to the group’s high intake of fish.” A third possibility is that Melanesians engaged in cross-breeding with Europeans when they arrived many years ago.
Approximately 5-10% of Melanesians have naturally blonde hair — the largest outside of Europe.
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