How Do We Inherit Our Skin Color?

How Do We Inherit Our Skin Color?

Chapter Seven of “A Completely New Look At Interracial Sexuality”

by Lawrence R. Tenzer
October/November 2000

Of the white women in the national probability sample, 63% agreed with the belief that a white woman and a light-complexioned Afro-American man could have a child with a darker complexion than the man (Belief Statement 6). Inasmuch as it is a genetic impossibility for these two people to have such a child, this survey finding shows that skin color inheritance is an often misunderstood phenomenon. In order to understand the process involved here, three different unions will be discussed – white and black, white and mulatto, mulatto and mulatto.

When a white and a black mate, their child will be an intermediate combination of the all light skin color genes of one parent and the all dark skin color genes of the other parent. (Pigment-producing skin color genes may vary in potency which explains the reason several offspring of a white and a black may differ slightly in shade from one another.) This child is a true “mulatto” in the strict definition of the word, although it is important to note that the term is commonly taken to mean a person with any degree of white and black admixture. In 1578, in an overstatement typical of the exaggerated literary style of the time, commentator George Best described a genetic impossibility when he wrote that a white and a black had a black child:

I myself have seen a Negro as black as a coal brought into England, who taking a fair English woman to wife, begat a son in all respects as black as the father was.

In this case the child would be a mulatto and would have to be lighter than its father.

When a white and a mulatto of any degree mate, the situation is different. The light skin color genes from the white parent and the light and dark skin color genes from the mulatto parent can combine in any combination. There are at least three pairs of genes at work in skin color inheritance so many combinations are possible. With reference to Belief Statement 6, as long as one parent is white and is contributing light skin color genes, the child will always be lighter in color than the other mulatto parent whether dark or light-complexioned. On extremely rare occasions interracial couples have produced sets of twins with very different skin colors. Two such cases exist in England – the Smith twins and the Charnock twins. In each instance one child is light-complexioned and the other is dark-complexioned. As extraordinary as this may be for twins, the laws of skin color inheritance still hold because one parent is white in each case and neither of the darker children is any darker than the dark-complexioned parent.

When two mulattoes of any degree mate, each contributes both light and dark skin color genes. The child can get all or most of the dark skin color genes from both parents and be darker than either parent; the child can get all or most of the light skin color genes from both parents and be lighter than either parent; the child can get any combination of light and dark skin color genes from both parents and be whatever color that combination dictates. This principle can be illustrated in the pre-Civil War work of historian Kenneth M. Stampp. In examining manuscript census returns for 1860, he found that slave mothers who were listed as “Mulatto” often had children who were listed as “Black.” Their dark color is readily explained by laws of genetic skin color inheritance whereby two mulattoes can produce a child darker than either parent. The children referred to in the census data had mulatto mothers and either mulatto or black fathers.

As long as a mulatto of any degree continues to mate with white, skin color will necessarily lighten. Marquis de Chastellux, a major-general in the French Army and one of only forty members of the prestigious French Academy, knew this truth over 200 years ago. In 1787 he wrote of white men marrying black women, which “would give rise to a race of mulattoes, which would in turn produce a race of quadroons [theoretically one-fourth black], and so on, until the color would be totally changed.” Likewise, in 1823 “Philo Humanitas” (pseudonym used by an antislavery Southerner) expressed the idea that slavery would be abolished because of the great extent to which interracial sexual relations occurred in the South. Re concluded that everyone would end up having the same complexion “which will be esteemed white by the inhabitants.” Philo invented a new name for this process “which for the want of a more appropriate term, I shall call the whitening operation.” Even the proslavery writer William Gilmore Simms called attention to the dynamics of skin color inheritance. In 1838 he wrote, “In the progress of a few generations, that, which might otherwise forever prove a separating wall between the white and black – the color of the latter – will be effectively removed.”

The inheritance of skin color differs from the inheritance of eye color, for example. In the latter there are dominant and recessive genes. Simply stated, if one dark eye color gene and one light eye color gene couple together, the dark one dominates and the effect is the same as if both were dark. The light eye color gene is recessive and can manifest itself in future generations. The inheritance of skin color, however, works on an entirely different principle. When a dark skin color gene and a light skin color gene couple together, the result is a blending of the two. It has been seen that as long as subsequent generations of mulattoes of any degree continue to mate with whites, the skin color of each new generation will necessarily be lighter. Even in cases where white people have remote black ancestry, it is impossible to produce a genetic throwback because dark skin color genes have all been blended out.

The issue of skin color inheritance has had an interesting history that can be traced back over 2,000 years to ancient times. To begin with, it must be understood that in those days, there was no racial prejudice per se. Unlike America, nowhere in the entire classical world was there ever any law which forbid intermarriage based on skin color or race. The Roman statesman and philosopher Cicero (106-43 B.C.) discussed the commonalities which exist among all people and asserted that “there is no difference in race…. Nor is there anyone of any race who has taken nature as his guide that cannot reach virtue.” The antipathy which did exist in ancient society was that of xenophobia, a fear of strangers or foreigners, including those of different cultures or religions. The dislike that Spartans and Cretans felt for strangers, for example, was well known as was the religious intolerance expressed toward Jews and Christians with their belief in monotheism. With no racial prejudice and no prohibitive social stigma attached to skin color, interracial sexual relations occurred freely throughout the ancient world. The Roman emperor Lucius Septimius Severus, an African, married Julia Domna, a white woman(PLATE 4). Ancient interracial sexuality can also be seen in works of art (PLATES 5, 6, 7) and in literature written by white men who were sexually attracted to black women. The Greek poet and epigrammatist Asclepiades of Samos (fl. third century B.C.) wrote:

When looking at her beauty I melt as wax does before the fire. She is black but what is that to me? Coals are black, but when lit they shine as bright as roses.

The Roman epigrammatist Martial (fl. first century A.D.) expressed:

A certain girl who is whiter than a washed swan wants me. She is whiter than silver, snow, a lily, or a privet. But I desire a girl I could name who is blacker than night, an ant, pitch, a jackdaw, or a cicada.

With interracial marriage not thought of as anything extraordinary, a white woman having a mulatto child was uneventful. Problems arose, however, when a white woman who was married to a white man had a mulatto child. The Roman poet Ovid (43 B.C.-?17 A.D.) alludes to adultery in a story from Roman mythology where white Aurora and white Tithonus produce a black son (which could only happen in mythology):

A black son was born to you, the color of his mother’s heart. I might wish that Tithonus could talk about you.. No woman would ever be more morally disgraced in heaven.

In the real world, women who cheated on their husbands had a great deal to worry about because adultery was considered an offense so severe as to be punishable by death. The words of Roman statesman Marcus Porcius Cato (234-149 B.C.) say it all:

When a husband divorces his wife.. he judges the woman as a censor would, and has full powers if she has been guilty of any wrong or shameful act; she is severely punished if she has drunk wine; if she has done wrong with another man she is condemned to death. [Furthermore, the husband can carry out the execution himself! Cato writes,] If you should take your wife in adultery, you may with impunity put her to death without a trial; but if you should commit adultery or indecency, she must not presume to lay a finger on you, nor does the law permit it.

White women married to white men were giving birth to mulatto babies and being charged with adultery. To admit the obvious would be to admit the offense, so other explanations were sought in order to maintain the innocence of the women so charged. Two popular theories evolved – atavism and maternal impression.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) began the tradition of interracial atavism, explaining that the black [mulatto] son of a white woman was a hereditary throwback to the child’s grandfather:

Children can resemble their more remote ancestors….There was at Elis a woman who cohabited with a Negro. Her daughter was not a Negro, but the son that came from that daughter was.

Aristotle’s explanation provided a powerful answer. Greek author Antigonus of Carystus (fl. 250 B.C.) and Greek scholar Aristophanes of Byzantium (257?-?180 B.C.) both incorporated Aristotle’s account into their own works. More than three centuries after Aristotle, this explanation was still popular. The Roman scholar Pliny (23-79 A.D.) wrote regarding oddities of birth:

One certain example is that of the renowned boxer Nicaeus, born at Byzantium, whose mother was the daughter of adultery with a Negro. Her complexion was no different from that of the others [other white women], but her son Nicaeus appeared like his Negro grandfather.

The seemingly impossible birth which Aristotle described was not a throwback and is easily explained otherwise. The white woman from Elis was pregnant with a baby fathered by a white man. When her daughter was born, she was, of course, white. That daughter’s son, who was expected to be white but was not, was fathered by a black man. Likewise, Nicaeus’ white grandmother may have committed adultery with a Negro, but her daughter, Nicaeus’ mother, was white because she was fathered by a white man. Her son Nicaeus, however, was fathered by a black man.

Greek biographer and commentator Plutarch (46?-?120 A.D.), a contemporary of Pliny, presented an even more abstract example of atavism:

A certain Greek woman, on bearing a black child and being charged with adultery, discovered that there was a Negro in her family four generations back.

Aristotle, his followers, Pliny, and Plutarch all promoted atavisim. In ancient times, this theory was one way of explaining how a white woman could have a black (but really mulatto) baby even though she was married to a white man, without being an adulteress.

Maternal impression was the other technique used to account for how a so-called black baby could be born to two white parents. Pliny explained the general theory as follows:

A great many likenesses that appear accidental were influenced by sense impressions of sights and sounds received at the time of conception. A trivial thought suddenly crossing the mind of either parent will also produce likeness.

It was believed that at the moment of conception the mind of the white woman was influenced by a mere thought of a black man, 50 that somehow an impression was left upon her and she produced a “black” child. Roman rhetorician Calpurnius Flaccus (fl. second century A.D.) discussed pro and con views of maternal impression in his declamation Negro Birth. On one hand, “Each people keeps its own appearance… The types of mortal men are diverse, yet no one is dissimilar to his own people.” On the other hand, presumably under the influence of maternal impression, the dark color of the child

may be explained as “skin scorched by imperfection of the blood.’ Doctor of the Church Saint Jerome (340?-420) explained, “Nor is it strange that this is the nature of women in their conceiving, namely that they beget the kind of offspring which they see or they conceive in their minds in the extreme heat of passion.” Saint Jerome relates how by using this argument the Roman rhetorician Quintilian (it. first century A.D.) defended a Roman matron who gavebirth to a black [mulatto] child.

Apparently, in ancient times it was not uncommon to have sexually suggestive paintings on bedroom walls (like PLATE 6, for example), and such art work provided a ready explanation for maternal impression. Saint Augustine (354-430), church father and philosopher, stated that an account is to be found written in the books of the Greek physician Hippocrates (460?-?377 B.C.) in which a woman was suspected of adultery when she produced a very beautiful child who was dissimilar to either parent or family. She was freed from suspicion when it was determined that she had been influenced by a certain painting in her room. The original account of Hippocrates is not to be found in his extant works and is assumed lost, however, whether true or not, the fact is that Saint Augustine perpetuated the concept of maternal impression by including it in his own writings. The story was carried into three fifteenth-century manuscripts which advanced the view still further. In the words of researcher Lynn Thorndike, each describes a white woman who “as a result of fixing her gaze upon the picture of a Negro at the time of conception, gave birth to a child as black as the figure in the picture.” These particular reports deal with the double genetic impossibilities of maternal Impression and two white people producing a black child. It is worth noting that the idea of maternal impression was not limited exclusively to white women. In the fictional tale Aethiopia, an early Greek romance by Heliodorus (fourth century? A.D.), the black queen Persinna who is married to a black husband gives birth to a white daughter and believes that at the time of conception she was looking at a picture of Andromeda, a white woman.

Atavism and maternal impression have had a mixed history of acceptance and rejection. One proponent of atavism was phrenologist 0.S. Fowler who recorded this interesting case in 1843:

Two white parents in New Jersey, were very much astonished to find in their child unequivocal marks of the African race and blood…. His wife protested her innocence in terms so strong and solemn, that he was finally led to believe in her integrity. Still, no explanation of the phenomenon appeared. At length he sailed for France, and visited a town on its frontiers where her family had resided for several generations, and found, to his joy, that his wife’s great grandfather was an African.

The idea of atavism has survived into modern times. In 1972, for example, sociologist Ian Robertson and commentator Phillip Whitten reported that some whites in South Africa still utilize “the genetic throwback” to account for a mulatto birth to white parents. As explained earlier in this chapter, interracial atavism is a genetic impossibility. Even so, the concept endures. Maternal impression, on the other hand, appears not to have survived. Although modern examples are lacking, it was a popular concept in the past. Unlike other references already cited, English author Reginald Scot knew that maternal impression was outright fraud and spoke the truth back in 1584:

A woman that brought forth a young Negro, by means of an old Negro who was in her house at the time of her conception, whom she beheld in fantasy, as is supposed. ..a jealous husband will not be satisfied with such fantastical imaginations. For in truth a Negro never faileth to beget black children, of what colour soever the other be.

In other cases, however, maternal impression was shown to be valid, acceptable, and popular. Richard Brathwait, English poet and author (1641):

It is incredible, what rare effects were sometimes drawn from a Negro Picture, being onely hung up in a Ladies Chamber.

In the early 1 700s the Dutch physician Hermann Boerhaave related, A Princess was delivered of a black daughter, by only seeing, for the first time, a Negro whilst she was pregnant.

In London The Morning Post, and Daily Advertiser of December 22, 1786 alluded to maternal impression in the following statement about mulattoes:

The numerous dingy coloured [dusky] faces which crowded our streets, must have their origin in our wives being terrified when pregnant, by the numerous Africans who were to be seen in all parts of the town.

While traveling in South Africa in the 1830s Sir James Edward Alexander visited with a white couple who after seven months of marriage had a mulatto child. According to the husband

One day his wife was going out and was frightened by a black man, whom she suddenly saw behind the door, and that the child became black in consequence.

Maternal impression was so widely accepted that reports of the phenomenon even appeared in a prestigious French medical journal in 1873. One case concerned a woman who had had carnal relations many times with a black in America. On returning to Europe she was placed in a convent, and after a stay of two years she left arid married a white man. After nine months of pregnancy she gave birth to a black infant.

In several of the preceding accounts as well/ as others in this chapter, the word “black” was used figuratively to mean mulatto. A New York court case which occurred in 1816 exemplifies h&)~ confusing such usage can be. The court reviewed forty-year-old records wherein it was found that a white woman named Catreen Race had “delivered of a male black child” and claimed that a white man named Adam Heydon was the father. The court acknowledged that white women could produce mulatto children but not black ones and stated that if “Catreen Race a white woman had been delivered of a mulatto child, instead of a black child, there could be no question on the subject of illegitimacy, because it would have appeared impossible for Adam Heydon, a white man, to have been the father.” However, Catreen Race produced a black baby (on paper, at least) and not a mulatto, and the court ruled that Adam Heydon was the father, implying that atavism or maternal impression was responsible. What had to have happened was that Catreen Race did have a mulatto child, but the court mistakenly interpreted the forty-year-old records and took the word “black” to mean Negro rather than the general figurative term for a mulatto. (For another example of a white woman’s mulatto baby who was referred to as black, see Chapter 5, p. 85.) A related court case is worth mentioning here. In 1840 a Virginia court appropriately ruled in agreement with “professional men that, according to the course of nature, a mulatto child cannot be the offspring of two white persons.”

For over 2,000 years atavism and maternal impression were ways of explaining how a white woman married to a white man could give birth to a mulatto (often referred to as a black) child. In looking back over this span of time, it is really remarkable how these two ideas have flourished. As science has evolved and more accurate information has become available in the fields of genetics and heredity, knowledge has replaced ignorance, and this long history is now finally drawing to a close.


Louis Levine, Biology of the Gene, 2d ed. (St. Louis, 1973), 82 concerning skin color genes and potency; George Best, “A True Discourse of the Three Voyages of Discoverie,” in The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques & Discoveries of the English Nation, comp. Richard Hakluyt (N. Y., 1904), 7:262 (“Ethiopian,” an archaic general term for Negro, in original.)

For skin color inheritance, see L. C. Dunn and Th. Dobzhansky, Heredity, Race and Society (N. Y., New American Library, 1952), 58-61; Carroll Lane Fenton, Our Living World (Garden City, 1953),

195; Max Levitan and Ashley Montagu, Textbook of Human Genetics (N.Y., 1971), 635; Amram Scheinfeld, Heredity in Humans (N. Y., 1972), 57, 59;

Laurence 11. Snyder, The Principles of Heredity (N. Y., 1935), 127; A. M. Winchester and Thomas R. Mertens, Human Genetics, 4th ed. (Columbus, 1983), 66. For an example of modern misinformation, see Julian S. Huxley and A. C. Haddon, We Europeans. A Survey of “Racial” Problems (N. Y., 1936), 61.

Curt Stern refers to “the dark skin of many Mediterranean whites,” and such a white and a nearly white mulatto could have a child darker than the nearly white due to “minor modifying alleles.” Concerning whites in general, however, Stern goes on to say that since the genetic basis of skin-color differences is not established beyond doubt, it would be unscientific to deny the possibility that, in marriages of white and near-whites, children somewhat darker than their near-white parent could be produced.” Principles of Human Genetics, 3d ed. (San Francisco, 1973), 445,448. While the first case is true, the second case is false and Stern’s view is unnecessarily cautious. Inasmuch as the white parent can only contribute light skin color genes and the nearly white parent can only contribute mostly light skin color genes, even if their child received all of the dark skin color genes from the nearly white parent, how could the child be darker than its nearly white parent? Furthermore, in the professional literature on genetics and skin color inheritance, not one such case has ever been reported!

Regarding the twins, see D. M. Cheers, “A Visit with Unusual Twins,” Jet 70 (June 2, 1986): 30-32; D. Michael Cheers, “Britain’s Most Amazing Twins,” Ebony 39 (April 1984): 42+; “A Genetic Puzzle,” Ebony 36 (December 1980): 80+.

The census reference may be had in Kenneth M. Stampp, The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante- Bellum South (N. Y., Vintage Books, 1956), 351 n. 9.

Marquis de Chastellux, Travels in North America in the Years 1780, 1781 and 1782, ed. and trans. Howard C. Rice, Jr. (Chapel Hill, 1963), 2:440-41; ~’Philo Humanitas,” (letter to the editor), Genius of Universal Emancipation, ed. and pub. Benjamin Lundy (Greeneville, Tenn.), 3 (Ninth Month 1823): 42 (italics in original); [William Gilmore Simms], Slavery in America, Being a Brie(~ Review of Miss Martineau on That Subject (Richmond, 1838), 40. This pamphlet was published anonymously, however, the 1852 version appeared with the author’s name. The quotation cited on page 40 of the former is noticeably absent from the latter. W. Gilmore Simms, The Morals of Slavery, in The Pro-Slavery Argument (1852; reprint, N.Y., 1968), 230.

Regarding eye color being Mendelian, see Victor A. McKusick, Mendelian Inheritance in Man, 8th ed. (Baltimore, 1988), 925-26, and Scheinfeld, Heredity, chap. 7.

In the ancient world, marriage prohibitions were based on social class. In Rome the Twelve Tables (449 B.C.) outlawed intermarriage between plebeians (commoners) and patricians (aristocrats). The Canuleian Law (445 B.C.), however, reversed this policy and permitted such intermarriages. The Julian Law on Classes Permitted to Marry (18 B.C.) stated that with the exception of senators, their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, all free men could marry free women providing they were not women of ill repute. Naphtali Lewis and Meyer Reinhold, eds., Roman Civilization (N.Y., 1951,1955), 1:109, 112-l3and2:50-52. The Athenian statesman Pericles had a law passed in 451/0 B.C. which only lcgitimized marriage between two Athenian citizens. Aubrey Diller, Race Mixture Among the Greeks Before Alexander (Westport, 1971), 91, 123, 136-37, 152-59. Alexander the Great, on the other hand, encouraged intermarriage between Greeks and barbarians. Simon Davis, Race-Relations in Ancient Egypt: Greek, Egyptian, Hebrew, Roman (London, 1953), 10, 12, and also 54, 69. In addition, see Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, s.v. ‘~lntermarriage”; Frank M. Snowden, Jr., Blacks in Antiquity: Ethiopians in the Greco- Roman Experience (Cambridge, Mass., 1970), 169 and his companion volume Before Color Prejudice: The Ancient View of Blacks (Cambridge, Mass., 1983).

Cicero On Laws 1.10.30, also Pro Balbo 22.51. Regarding xenophobia, see Davis, Race-Relations, xv, xvii, 113-32, 151-65; Diller, Race Mixture, 22-23, 32, 71-73; John Gill, Notices of the Jews and Their Country by the Classic Writers ofAntiquity (1 872; reprint, Westport, 1976); Simeon L. Guterman, Religious Toleration and Persecution in Ancient Rome (London, 1951); A. N. Sherwin-White, Racial Prejudice in Imperial Rome (Cambridge, Eng., 1967), 1, 60, 66, 86-101. For the Spartan and Cretan references, see W. K. Lacey, The Family in Classical Greece (Ithaca, 1968), 200, 208.

Concerning the skin color of Septimius Severus, a family portrait which has survived speaks for itself. Severus was born in Leptis Magna, North Africa. Caius Pescennius Niger, a peer of Severus who challenged him for the title of emperor, also has been considered black because his cognomen of Niger means “black” in Latin. In the biography of Niger by Aelius Spartianus, however, he is described as having a white body with a ruddy face, and a black neck which was said to account for his name. “Pescennius Niger, “in Scriptores Historiae Augustae 6.5-6. Africans were great religious leaders as well. Relatively unknown but true nonetheless, there were three African popes – Victor (fi. late second century), Miltiades (311-314), and Gelasius (492-496). The Book of the Popes (Liber Pontificalis), trans. Louise Ropes Loomis (1916; reprint, N. Y., 1965)17-19,40-41, 110-14.

Mythical male deities and satyrs were depicted with deep bronze complexions in some instances. For examples of this treatment, see Daedalus and Pan in Theodore H. Feder, ed., Great Treasures of Pompeii & Herculaneum (N. Y., 1978), 89, 137, and satyrs in Michael Grant et al., Eros in Pompeh: The Secret Rooms of the National Museum of Naples (N. Y., 1975), 145, 162, 163. Mortal (white) men have also been depicted with dark complexions as in Grant et al., Eros, 33,36, and even 153, but never as dark as 152, the male in PLATE 6. The color of this black figure (identified as the mythical Polyphemus) closely resembles that of the priests officiating a ceremony for the goddess Isis. See Frank M. Snowden, Jr., “Iconographical Evidence on the Black Populations in GrecoRoman Antiquity,” in The Image of the Black in Western Art 1:

From the Pharaohs to the Fall of the Roman Empire (N.Y., 1976), figure 222, and text on 221, 224.

Asclepiades of Samos, in Greek Anthology 5.210; Martial The Epigrams 1.115. Also for example, Ovid The Loves 2.5.39-40, and Propertius The Elegies 2.26.41-42.

Ovid The Loves 1.13.33-36. Commentaries may be had in Hermann Fra’nkel, Ovid: A Poet between Two Worlds (Berkeley, 1969), 14-15, 178-79, and J. C. McKeown, Ovid: Amores: Text, Prolegomena and Commentary (Leeds, Eng., 1989), 2:355-58.. The Roman lawyer and satirist Juvenal (60?-?140 A.D.) ridicules interracial adultery in Satires 6.597-601. Cato quoted in Lewis and Reinhold, Roman Civilization 1:508, and also see 60. Of course, misogyny did not begin in ancient Rome. For references to misogyny in the Bible, see Katherine M. Rogers, The Troublesome Helpmate: A History of Misogyny in Literature (Seattle, Washington Paperback, 1968), 3-22.

Aristotle On the Generation ofAnimals 1.1 8.722a and History of Animals 7.6.586a; Antigonus of Carystus Collections of Amazing Histories 112 (122), in Rerum Naturalium Scriptores Graeci Minores, ed. Otto Keller (Leipzig, 1877); Aristophanes of Byzantium Summary of the History ofAnimals 2.272, in Supplementum Aristotelicum I Pt. I, ed. Spyridon P. Lambros (Berlin, 1885); Pliny Natural History 7.12.51; Plutarch On the Late Vengeance of Divinity 21.563 (in Moralia, Book 7).

Pliny Natural History 7.12.52; Calpurnius Flaccus Declamationes

2 (Bibliotheca Classica Latina, 80: 523-26); Saint Jerome Hebrew Questions in the Book of Genes is 30, 32.33 (Corpus Christ ianorum, Series Latina, 72.38) and Quintiliani quaeferuntur Declamationes XIX maiores, ed. G. Lehnert (Leipzig, 1905), 353.

Regarding erotic paintings on bedroom walls, Antonio De Simone and Maria Teresa Merella who are affiliated with the National Archaeological Museum of Naples state that “these little paintings may have functioned as a sort of figurative grammar of love, and may have been intended as visual enticements to make love. Many have in fact been found not only in brothels but also in the bedrooms of private houses, as if they were private collections of erotic art.” Grant et al., Eros, 154.

Saint Augustine Questions in Genesis 93 (Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina, 33.35). Also, see Laurent Joubert, Treatise on Laughter (1579; reprint, trans. Gregory David de Rocher, University, Al., 1980), 67, and The Collected Works of Ambroise Pare. Translated Out of the Latin by Thomas Johnson (1634 from the 1579 ed.; reprint, Pound Ridge, N. Y.. 1968), 978. The woodcut used by Pare to portray his prose also served as the model for illustrations which appeared later in many English and American editions of Aristotle’s Masterpiece (titles vary), an early work on human sexuality. Also, for examples of text references to maternal impression, see Aristotle’s Compleat Master Piece, 1749 edition, 90, and Aristotle’s Book of Problems, 1776 edition, 65. (These 2 reprinted and bound with others in 1 vol. by Garland Publishing [N. Y., 1986].) Lynn Thorndike, “De Complexionibus,” Isis 49 (December 1958): 399-400 (“Ethiopian” in original); Heliodorus Aethiopia 4.8.

O.S. Fowler, Hereditary Descent: Its Laws and Facts, Illustrated and Applied to the Improvement of Mankind (N.Y., 1843), 34-35 (italics in original); Ian Robertson and Phillip Whitten, “Sexual Politics in South Africa,” Progressive 36 (September 1972): 44;

Reginald Scot, The Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584; reprint,Carbondale, Ill., 1964), 262 (“blacke Moore” in original); Richard Brathwait, The English Gentlewoman, 3d ed. (London, 1641), 354

(“Morian” and italics in original); Boerhaave cited in Nathaniel Wanley, The Wonders of the Little World, 6 books in I vol. (London, 1774), 2:106 (“blackmoor” in original); The Morning Post, and Daily Advertiser, 22 Dec. 1786, p.2 (italics in original);

James Edward Alexander, An Expedition of Discovery into the Interior of Africa (London, 1838), 1:77; Bulletin de la Socie~e’ Medical’ de la Suisse Romande 7 (August 1873): 241. Also, see The Works of Sir Thomas Browne, ed. Geoffrey Keyes (London, 1928), 2:466-67, and Don Cameron Allen, The Legend of Noah: Renaissance Rationalism in Art, Science, and Letters (Urbana, 1963), 119. For a tongue in cheek example of maternal impression, see

Harold M. Hyman, “Election of 1864,” in History of American Presidential Elections, 1789-1968, ed. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. et al. (N. Y., 1971), 2:1231.

Helen Tunnicliff Catterall, ed., Judicial Cases Concerning American Slavery and the Negro (1926; reprint, N. Y., 1968), 4:370, and also 2:136; 1:196.

A Completely New Look At Interracial Sexuality

Public Opinion and Select Commentaries

A Completely New Look At Interracial SexualityDr. Lawrence R. Tenzer has conducted extensive research on interracial sexual relations in America and is considered a renowned expert on the subject. His pioneering book is a landmark in the field because it focuses in on questions which people have been curious about for years: When did relationships between the races actually begin? Why are people of different races attracted to one another? Is there really a sexual difference between whites and blacks, particularly white men and black men? What about the children of interracial marriages? What are the dynamics of prejudice? How about the social implications of interracial dating and interracial marriage for America’s future?

Since the major objection to interracial sexual relations has typically been white women dating and marrying black men, how
do white women themselves feel about interracial sexuality? The author presents a first-of-its-kind national public opinion survey which reveals their beliefs and attitudes concerning sex between blacks and whites and related issues. You will be intrigued by what they have to say.

Having lectured in the United States and Canada, it is not surprising that Dr. Tenzer has attracted the attention of the media. He has appeared on the award-winning McCreary Report, Good Day New York, Geraldo, Sally Jessy Raphael, and Nighttalk with Jane Whitney. In an interview on Philadelphia talk radio WWDB there were candid responses to his statements about the widely held belief that black men are sexually superior to white men. Other radio appearances include KIRO in Seattle, WBAI and WQHT in New York, WTTH in Atlantic City, and Wisconsin public radio. USA Today has quoted him on his views about the future of interracial sexual relations. Dr. Tenzer’s book as well as the lively and dynamic discussions he generates are keeping people talking and reading!

“One of the most fascinating books I have ever read.
It’s a book every library needs to own.”
Candace Mills, Interrace Magazine

“Lawrence Tenzer…has studied interracial relationships for 20 years.”
USA Today

“Very interesting indeed, and the bibliographies most useful.”
Winthrop D. Jordan, University of Mississippi

“Frank and thought-provoking work….If you’re not uncomfortable reading
Dr. Ruth, you can read this….Also a plus are the Greco Roman and
Medieval photographs and prints of interracial families and couples.”
Daniel Hollis, New People Magazine






  1. You full of it mulatto is an outdated slave term you want to post interracial truths stay updated or run the risk of being exposed for the racist you are complexion is a genetic randomness maybe once predictable but with so many previous unaware mix races who knows even with parents pigment visible what might turn up.

      1. Are you actually serious with this?
        This the most inaccurate piece of trash I have read in a long time.
        You can actually come to my country, South Africa, and see with your own god damn eyes that it is total bull crap for it to be ‘impossible’ to have darker kids or recessive genes (relating to melanin). Also I love how it’s historical snippets used to show the author’s theory & hardly goes into any information relating to genes & then dismisses even historical evidence that maybe what their saying isn’t true with “Eh everyone’s just lying & they’re obviously ALL having affairs” which sure maybe a few might, but ALL really?

        Also not that anyone talking crap about Sandra Laing will care, but Sandra Laing DID get paternity tested & it was proven that her parents were indeed her parents.

        So sorry the entire population of my country ruins your theory.

        1. So what do Sandra Laing’s four grandparents look like? Certainly, Mr. and Mrs. Laing probably had some colored or mixed ancestry (like many South African Afrikaners). The problem with most of the documentaries about Sandra is that they present her as some kind of freak that just “happened” to two white parents (as if white impurity is too sensitive a topic to address).

  2. As human beings we can be attracted to who we like, it doesn’t matter we are all human after all, I think this is a pile of nonsense, you are using outdated racist offensive words like negro and mulatto, I am mixed race or as some would say biracial, I won’t buy your book it’s a waste of money, get your terminology right you sound ignorant and racist, I feel sorry for you

  3. well lets see
    my family is multi ethnic
    my mom is a mix of black and white and Asian
    my dad is a mix of Asian (CHina and pakistan and india
    my sister looks fillipino …my mom looks phillipino my dad looks asian …and all my relatives look asian
    yet I look black and I did a dna that shows I have 31 percent black ….yet I see dna results with people with the same amount of black and even more who look white ??

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