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Nature volume 119, pages 213215 (05 February 1927) | Download Citation

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COLOUR SELECTION AMONG NEGROES IN THE UNITED STATES.-An interesting investigation in sexual selection among negroes in the United States has been carried out by Mr. Melville J. Herskovits, who describes his results in vol. 12, No. 10, of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. It appears that a definite type of selection, based largely on skin colour, is practised by American negroes in many aspects of their life, but especially in marriage. Students who were being measured at Howard University were asked to state whether their mother or father was the lighter. In 30 3 per cent. of the cases the father was the lighter, in 13-2 per cent. the parents were about the same, and in 56 5 per cent. the mother was the lighter. Later 400 negro families were measured in the Harlem District of New York City. Of 176 married couples available for this investigation, 29 0 per cent. showed a lighter father, 14 5 per cent. the same colour in both parents, and 56 5 per cent. a lighter mother. Further analysis shows that the men who are party to the matings are darker than the females, though in unselected series of males and females there is practically no sex difference in colour. It would therefore appear beyond question that there is a social selection in operation through the tendency of males to marry lighter females. Selection on the basis of other negroid traits, thick lips or broad noses, does not appear to be operative. If this selection on the basis of skin colour continues, as the children of each generation will tend to be darker than the mother, the American negro population will become nearer the negro type, since the relative amount of negro blood will be increased, though there is too much Indian and white blood in it to permit reversion to the pure negro type.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/119213a0

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