Nina Jablonski says that differing skin colors are simply our bodies' adaptation to varied climates and levels of UV exposure. Charles Darwin disagreed with this theory, however, as Jablonski explains, Darwin did not have access to NASA. Nina Jablonski is author of Skin: A Natural History, a close look at human skin's many remarkable traits: its colors, its sweatiness, the fact that we decorate it.
Over many centuries, people have had many ideas about the origins and significance of differences in human skin color. Explore some of these ideas by visiting the PBS web site Race: The Geography of an Illusion; in particular, visit “Background Readings” and read the interviews and articles listed under “History.” Create a timeline or other visual display to present some of these historical explanations. http://www.pbs.org/race/
One of the most significant historical documents related to race and skin color is UNESCO’s “The Race Question” published in 1950. Read the document at http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001282/128291eo.pdf and research its origins and legacy. What event(s) prompted UNESCO to issue such a document? How did people react to it? What changes did it usher in?
Nina Jablonski http://www.anthro.psu.edu/faculty_staff/Jablonski.shtml
NASA: Ultraviolet Radiation: How It Affects Life on Earth http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/UVB/uvb_radiation.php
Smithsonian: Human Evolution Timeline Interactive http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/human-evolution-timeline-interactive
ASU’s Institute of Human Origins: Becoming Human http://www.becominghuman.org/