Why are Australians dark brown?

I’m recovering from a horrible/wonderful trip to India. Bhagmalpur, Goa, Khairat and other places were great. Mumbai, not so much. Horrible to see the filth and corruption in places like Mumbai. Wonderful to see the children are doing well and there indeed is some hope.

I’ll start off by recounting a brief query by one of the children in Bhagmalpur. They were flipping through a couple of OLPC newsletters when one of them spotted the article on Australia and asked “If he is Australian, why is he dark brown?”

OLPC Australia

Two things struck me:

1) They were not simply flipping pages. They were paying attention. They were perhaps looking at others like them, elsewhere in the world.

2) How did they know Australians were anything other than dark brown? This time I wasn’t paying attention. Cricket of course! They had seen Australians on TV umpteen times, and none looked like this dark-brown kid in the picture above.

So, I sat down with them, pulled up a world map on the XO and walked them through the story of the human migration and how the indigenous Australians came to live on a continent of their own. We also talked about how the modern, fair-skinned Australians came to be, starting with the discovery of the continent and settled through penal transportation to the colony of New South Wales.

Have I planted a bug that all peoples of the world are essentially the same, and look different because of evolution over the generations? I think so. I had no choice but to let them in on the secret of Melanin.

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Filed under children, education, outreach

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