General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

When a black person and white person have a child, is that child ever darker skinned than the black parent?

Asked by Ltryptophan (10834points) September 17th, 2013

I have only seen the babies born lighter than the darker skinned parent.

Why isn’t skin color like eye color? Why do the colors mix, instead of going one way. Maybe a family could have some black babies, and some white babies if it were like eye color. Instead, the skin tones seem to work more than figuratively like cream and coffee.

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27 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

It varies. I’ve seen very dark skin babies born to two light skin parents, and just about every combination in between.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@YARNLADY You’ve seen a black parent, and white parent, both of lighter skin tones, produce a darker skinned child?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

I am sure it is possible, but like you, I have never seen it. It would be as logical as taking dark Gray and off white and mixing it together and coming up with black. As much as I know about DNA if you take half the DNA that states the skin pigment will be light, and the other half will be dark, more times than not, unless those dark pigment chromosomes are very dominant, it will not totally erase the contribution to the skin pigment that the chromosomes that say “lighter skin” will add. Ask yourself this: when was the last time you seen an Asian mate with any race that the child did not have almond shaped eyes even if very slight?

Ltryptophan's avatar

It’s interesting, I hope someone has a very scientific answer.

pleiades's avatar

@Ltryptophan Oh you’ll get a very scientific answer by tonight believe me.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Ltryptophan If you want a scientific answer, you need to go to a scientific site. Fluther is more for personal experience type experts.

I’m talking about to supposed white parents. However the color of ones skin is not the same as the DNA that determines all our features.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

There are light-skinned adults who have a dark-skinned parent. That is they carry but may not express the genes that produce dark skin. I know such a woman who married and dark-skinned man. Together they had six children. One son was darker than both parents. Two daughters were lighter-skinned than either parent. The rest were somewhere between.

Why? Skin colour involves the expression of multiple genes.

Neodarwinian's avatar

Scroll down to biology and histology.

The colors do not mix as the genes for producing melanin vary in expression between the parents. It is about expression and you will see some southern Europeans that will darken considerable in the proper conditions.\Still, you will have one DNA strand with melanin heavy production genes and the other with much less production possibility, so the ” creame and coffee ” appearance is more probable.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@YARNLADY I think you’re underestimating Fluther. I have seen expert scientific answers given here, and I can provide an example. That sounded like a “get lost” to me! Which isn’t very nice. But after years of being here I’ve noticed that many times you have curt entries, so I’m used to it.

But for the sake of my question, and @Dr_Lawrence I am specifically referring to interracial couples, not generic couples of the same race having babies darker than themselves, but I do see how that is a relevant example relating to this matter.

Have you seen a black person marry a white person and have a child that is darker than the black parent. That is the question. It is not racist, and it stands. I’m not a racist for having asked it, and that is all.

Black people are just people who’s ancestors have a specific melanin gene sequence. They’re just darker than white folks, but we’re all sweet, equal humans. Interracial children are great. Even more likely to be beautiful I find…. So please, everyone, feel free to not think this is a loaded question.

JLeslie's avatar

I have seen children darker than their parents, but it’s possible it is sun exposure, not sure. People with darker skin get darker very quickly in the sun and hold onto the color mich longer. If I get a tan, within two weeks of no sun I am back to very white. If my husband gets a tan, and his tan is naturally darker than mine, his starting skin color is darker than mine, it takes him months for the tan to fade. Genetically he is basically from the area of the mediterranean. I have black friends who also get very very dark from the sun in a very short time. No one perceives them as “tanned” but if you saw the parts of their body that doesn’t get sun, they are much lighter in those areas.

Eye color can be a little mixed also. My husband has amber brown eyes. His mom has greenish and his dad brown. Some people have eyes with many different flecks of colors. Eye color is even more complicated than it was previously thought, but I do agree most of the time eye color is more distinct than skin color.

Ltryptophan's avatar

Thanks @Neodarwinian! sigh-aunce!!

Neodarwinian's avatar


You are welcome my levo amino acid!

Adagio's avatar

@Ltryptophan in defence of @YARNLADY, I did not interpret her comment in that way : ^)

CWOTUS's avatar

I don’t know if the genes that control for darker or lighter skin pigmentation are recessive or dominant for “darker” as opposed to “lighter” pigmentation. However, like blue eyes vs. brown eyes, where blue eyes are a recessive trait and brown eyes dominant, when a “bl” + “BR” child is born, the “BR” (brown) eyes will dominate. Only children born with “bl” + “bl” will have blue eyes.

It may be that in dark-skinned people “darker” may be recessive to “LIGHTER”, meaning that only children born to parents who contribute “darker” + “darker” traits will produce a child with darker pigmentation.

Or it may just be that dark-skinned couples who have babies with even darker pigmentation than their own simply give up on them as “not possible to succeed in this racist world”, and those kids are now only found in orphanages and jails.

I didn’t say that was likely, only possible. This is science, after all.

Neodarwinian's avatar


Very good, though I am not sure melanin genes are straight Mendelian in nature. Not my area.

drhat77's avatar

As I recall there are someting like 10–20 different genes that express skin pigment, and variabilities in inheritence and expression produce all different skin tones.

Neodarwinian's avatar

I thought it might be polygenic expression and that is a lot of alleles to keep track of.

Do you know more?

drhat77's avatar

I recall learning that in medical school in genetics when the very question of why isn’t skin color like eye color was asked. That was 13 years ago.

Neodarwinian's avatar



Doing a probability assessment of that many allelic combinations would yield so many possibilities as to melanin rendered skin shades, so i surmise a mating between a black and white person could have a darker baby as the result of the mating. Speculative, of course.

Ltryptophan's avatar

I hate to be a GQ begger, but this doesn’t strike anyone as a great question?

YARNLADY's avatar

@Ltryptophan me again I’m just a little old lady who tells it like I see it, but this question is not the type of question that does well on Fluther. I don’t mean to be dismissive, but rather, helpful. Your question is better asked on a different forum.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@YARNLADY glad for the update. I think the question held its own, and ended up being credible. But I respect your opinion, if you’re saying that we’re better off sticking to personal experience here.

antimatter's avatar

It’s something to do with pigmentation, DNA and genetics.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Ltryptophan I hate to be a GQ begger, but this doesn’t strike anyone as a great question?
Don’t feel bad, many, many GQ worthy questions go unlurved because people are too busy reading the fluffy unimportant ones ;-|

zander101's avatar

@antimatter Very true DNA and genetics are a very distinct science, a child’s appearance don’t only come from their parents but it comes from any in relation to their parent’s family tree.This holds true to offsprings whose parents for example can be a divide between italian/spanish, african/portuguese etc.

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