Did you know that melanin is the skin pigment that God used to paint His beautiful “human mosaic masterpiece?” There are two pigments that account for the diversity and beauty of skin and hair color in humans, eumelanin and pheomelanin. Albinism is characterized by the complete, or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes. These special people are not able to produce melanin, which leads to their light coloration. Eumelanin polymers are more abundant in brothers and sisters who have darker skin, and pheomelanin is the pigment that is abundant in folks with red hair and freckles. Pheomelanin is also is the pigment that God uses to “paint” our lips and the other sensitive red parts of our bodies.
The amazing thing about melanin is that it is more than God’s “human paint,” it is also a natural sun screen which absorbs harmful UV-radiation. It is able to dissipate more than 99.9% of the absorbed UV radiation from the sun as heat, which prevents indirect DNA damage to the skin. Melanin does this by keeping the generation of harmful free radicals to a minimum. Although brothers and sisters with lighter skin can develop darker skin through sunbathing, overexposure to the sun causes ~48,000 melanoma (skin cancer) related deaths per year worldwide.
Tanning is the result of two different melanin related processes; UVC (100 to 290 nm)-radiation derived oxidation of pre-existing melanin (rapid darkening of the skin), and melanogenesis, which is the increased production of melanin in the skin (a 72 hour delayed darkening of the skin). It is the exposure to UVB (290 to 320 nm) and UVA (320 to 400 nm) radiation from sunlight that accounts for 90% of the symptoms of premature skin aging and is linked to the development of skin cancer. Although protection from all wavelengths of UV radiation by use of sunscreen is advised, research has shown that the deeper penetrating UVA radiation may be the most dangerous wavelength of radiation in sunlight.
It is my heart-felt prayer that a deeper understanding of the science of skin will help us all understand the complete absurdity of racism. The Bible says:
– “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27, NIV)
– “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28, NIV)
– “But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” (James 2:9, NIV)
– “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.” (1 John 2:9, NIV)
Why do some of us fear people that are different from us? Aren’t we all brothers and sisters in Christ? Don’t we all share the same Heavenly Father? Let us celebrate our diversity of color today and praise our Creator God who made each of us just the way that we are. We are truly God’s Human Mosaic Masterpiece.