Albinism is a congenital disorder that removes pigment from the skin, hair and eyes. It occurs worldwide but has particularly high occurrences among certain African ethnic groups;
The prevalence of albinism in some ethnic groups in sub-Saharan Africa is around 1 in 5,000, while in Europe and the US it is 1 in 20,000. It would follow, then, that there would be stronger selective forces acting on albino populations in Africa than on albino populations in Europe and the US. Rates as high as 1 in 1,000 have been reported for some populations in Zimbabwe and other parts of Southern Africa.
Black albinos have a unique experience living among a people group that is the most melanin-rich in the world, and that experience can verge on the dangerous. In Tanzania albinos are even hunted, killed and/or dismembered for their body parts, which are believed to have spiritual powers.
African American model Shaun Ross is speaking up about his experiences as a black albino man.
“Whoever I end up being with, whoever ends up loving me unconditionally, fully is a bold person. Why? Because you’re seeing something that a lot of people don’t see and you’re not allowing my physical to make you look around and stop you from getting to know me.”
Ross says that his biological and cultural blackness is often questioned, and some African Americans assume that he receives privilege for having no melanin.
“I had to explain to people why I was not black and black… And they’re like… “White people like you, white people like you because you’re white just like them.’ Excuse me? Do you not see my nose? Do you not see my lips and my coarse hair?”
Ross recently started the #inmyskiniwin campaign to encourage self love and acceptance.
In My Skin I Win is a movement for anyone who has ever felt defeated by a negative social construct of what beauty actually should be. Beauty is you and what you make from your confidence in your own perfectly imperfect body.
The hashtag has brought incredible visibility to black albinos.
Beautiful. Are there any albino ladies out there? What has your experience been being albino in the black community?