Category: Science > Biology
Asked by: petey72-ga
List Price: $5.00
26 Mar 2003 17:54 PST
Expires: 25 Apr 2003 18:54 PDT
Question ID: 181468
Hi, this is to settle a bet with a friend of mine. The basis of the question is a book called "Black like Me" by John Howard Griffin. The book is is a real life account of a white man (Griffin) who turns himself black in order to conduct a sociological experiment. My question is, would it be possible for any white person to do the same thing or would the person have to have a certain complexion, color hair, etc? Thanks.
Answered By: jeremymiles-ga on 28 Mar 2003 01:58 PST
For the BBC TV programme "Trading Races" they used make up to transform people's race from black to white and white to black. According to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/factsheets/trading_races/index.shtml "Make-up designer Amber Sibley and her team had the additional challenge of needing to work with people who could be physically changed, so that they would look convincing as another ethnicity. On the advice of Amber we restricted the age range of potential contributors to between 18 and 45 years." They did not appear to select based on appearance. The technique involved only make-up, and some prosthetics to slightly alter the face of the shape. The people were filmed, at various locations - including a black man (made up to be white) at a National Front rally, and a white man (made up to be black) at a dinner gathering who was asked where his relatives came from. Interestingly, the black man (made up to be white) was at a nightclub, and some people said "He dances too well for a white man". So, based on this, I believe that the answer to your question is yes. Search strategy: I knew of the programme, so went to www.bbc.co.uk, and searched for "Trading Races".
From: pinkfreud-ga on 27 Mar 2003 13:57 PST
Griffin took psoralen drugs which, in combination with Ultraviolet A treatments, cause skin to darken. This is a legitimate medical procedure when it is used to treat conditions such as vitiligo and psoriasis, but it might be difficult to find a reputable physician who is willing to prescribe psoralens and UVA for non-medical reasons. The likelihood of lawsuits would be high, since there are risks associated with the procedure. "Psoralens were made infamous in 1959 when John Howard Griffin, the author of Black Like Me, took psoralens in conjunction with medical grade UV lamp exposure to darken his skin. After his death, it was rumored that the psoralens had killed him, but in reality he died from complications of diabetes. Psoralens do not make the skin darker without exposure to UV, and that exposure must be carefully regulated. Psoralens in conjunction with regulated UV exposure is called PUVA treatment, and has been used for years for vitiligo patients. It is also used for treatment of psoriasis, which can be life threatening in extreme cases. The hazards of the treatment have caused many dermatologists to recommend it only for patients with dark skin, never for people with red or blond hair, blue eyes, etc. I am shocked when visitors to this web site inform me that their doctor prescribed psoralens to them so that they could get a tan on vacation. What's next? Maybe the doctor will prescribe some methamphetamines for you so you can lose weight. Psoralens work by making the skin hypersensitive to the sun: damage, and therefore melanin production, is accelerated. Any doctor who prescribes psoralens to someone merely for tanning purposes is putting their patient at serious risk for skin cancer." Sunless.com http://www.sunless.com/safe/tanningpillsdontwork.php
From: xarqi-ga on 27 Mar 2003 14:49 PST
I have a theory that the level of alpha melanocyte stimulating hormone produced by the pituitary sets the maximum rate of melanogenesis, while locally (that is, within the epidermis) production of an endothelin determines the actual level within this range. Conceivably (to me at least), application of an endothelin ointment or lotion should do the trick. aMSH injection may be necessary to increase the maximal rate. Note, as far as I'm aware, this is total speculation. I don't know if it has been tried or not, but to me it makes sense.
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