When I think about the topic of colors, my mind was instantly drawn to the exquisite beauty of humanity’s color palate and the equally intense nastiness of humanity relative to the palate which I saw during my recent trip to South Africa. In this essay I intend to celebrate the whole of humanity by painting a colorful word picture based on the lens through which I see the world.
Based on the classification work done by Felix von Luschan in the 20th century, there are 36 distinct colors (ranging from pale white to black) that make up the whole of humanity. Each color has its own pulsating beauty as well as a practical purpose related to geography and the impact of the sun. As a white girl from Minnesota, I equate the palate to that of autumn leaves and the majestic splendor of an early snow that tops the vibrant golds and expressive browns.
No longer geographically bound by the practical relationship to the sun, the once layered and well defined distribution of color is shifting as are the vary colors themselves. An obvious example in Minneapolis is the infusion of gold and dark brown of Hmong and Somali refugees with the existing pale white base coat. For me, the blend is as delicious as Moose Track or Salted Carmel Swirl ice cream.
The old adage, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, is becoming more universal than was originally intended as the standard of beauty held in the homogenous group quickly fades. The albino, or absence of color is no longer a curse, but one that carries his or her own effervescence. Likewise, the dark black, that some would refer to as dirty, now stands tall on the runaways, in film and print ads typifying beauty.
With the full palate now at our finger tips, the layered distribution and rigid classification has given way to variegation. Like the knitted variegated scarfs and mittens created by my late mom the sweaters crocheted by my late great auntie, humanity now holds an edgy and less clearly defined pattern. The contrast of light and dark is vivid and grand and but for some the stimulation of senses is still too intense.
Like the autumn leaves, the color palate of humanity is breathtaking and shall be celebrated as such.