London-based photographer, Michelle Marshall has set out to document people of color who carry the MC1R gene, which is responsible for red hair. Since the MC1R gene is recessive, it requires both parents to be carriers for it to be passed onto children.
The gene is not as prevalent in areas with a lot of sunlight, such as Africa, as the climate does not favor lighter skin. However, the trait still does occur within both the Carribean and Africa due to a history of cultural exchange;
…The red hair and freckles is the likely result of the historical interactions between Europeans and Africans in the formation of the Caribbean populations—most notably with Brits, as the Spanish and Portuguese went to South America.
George states: “This might also explain why you occasionally see red hair on a black Caribbean person who has two black parents. By chance alone, it might be that they are both carrying a European mutation which has come together in their child.”
The project, appropriately titled MC1R is meant to challenge existing perceptions of the gene’s natural occurrence. In an e‑mail to the Huffington Post Marshall went into detail on why she chose this project:
“I want to stir the perception that most of us have of a ‘ginger’ as a white caucasian individual, potentially of Celtic descent … As we struggle with issues of immigration, discrimination and racial prejudice, Mother Nature, meanwhile, follows its own course, embracing society’s plurality and, in the process, shaking up our perceptions about origins, ethnicity and identity.”
Take a look at the striking images Marshall has captured so far in the project:
What do you think of the MC1R series?