As a kid, your parents always taught you to be respectful, and not to stare at people. However, there is a new health phenomenon that’s afflicting black people in the US, that’s difficult not to notice.
Vitiligo is a skin condition that was previously, only associated with mega entertainer, Michael Jackson and his claim that his dramatic skin lightening was because of vitiligo, and not because of skin bleaching. I personally think that Michael took advantage of the fairly obscure skin disease, as an excuse to bleach his skin in an effort to look “more white.”
It is not unusual to see black people now with white patches of skin, dramatically contrasting with their brown skin tone. These white patches can appear almost anywhere on the body, but it’s most notable when it appears on the face and hands. Based on my unscientific observation, I would estimate that at least 1 in 50 African-Americans have this disease currently.
Growing up, I can’t recall seeing very many black people with this condition, if ever! I’ve also canvassed a few friends, and they also confirmed that this was a new phenomenon among black people.
According to the American Vitiligo Research Foundation, nearly 2% of all Americans have some form of the disease, regardless of race. However, there’s very little data to confirm the percentage of African Americans who have vitiligo. This is an indication, that much more research needs to be conducted into this growing skin condition.
Vitiligo is a skin condition that appears when the immune system begins to attack itself, killing off melanocytes, that protect the skin and give people of color, their skin tone.
The genesis of vitiligo remains controversial, however a common theory supports an autoimmune origin since many patients with vitiligo tend to be diagnosed with autoimmune diseases, especially those involving the thyroid, according to Dermatology Times.
Diabetes, which is known to be prevalent in the black community, is also an auto immune disease. When I first discovered this, I immediately presumed that diabetes could be the cause of many vitiligo cases in black people.
Nearly 20% of African-Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes. Also, African-Americans are 77% more likely to develop the auto immune disease. Could this be the root cause of vitiligo in black people?
It’s unlikely that all black people with this condition have diabetes, although, diabetes can be hereditary, which means that it could manifest into other autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, MS and possibly vitiligo.
It’s also been theorized, that vitiligo could be triggered by stress. However, according to American Vitiligo Research Foundation, nearly 2/3 of all vitiligo cases also appear in conjunction with another autoimmune disease.
Could stress and genetics be the root cause?
Black people have suffered unspeakable amounts of stress in this country, many times bottling up their rage and emotions, in order to “get along,” and not be stereotyped as an angry black person.
The daily racist microaggressions and discriminatory treatment that black people have to endure can manifest itself as apathy, anger, resentment and disease. The etymology of the word disease is predicated on the condition of “dis-ease.”
I’ve often said that black people suffer from PTSD, and most should probably seek counseling. Only recently has the idea of blacks seeking mental counseling become a non-taboo subject. Black people have historically relied on their church community, as a sounding board for their troubles, instead of a psychologist.
Assuming that there’s a connection between genetics, stress and the presence of vitiligo — why now? Why hasn’t this skin disease appeared more frequently in the past among black people?
Is there a genetic change or mutation within black people, that’s causing vitiligo to be more prevalent?
If so, there certainly needs to be a lot more research invested into this condition. I’m appalled that very few resources have been allocated to the study of this disease, and how it affects black people.
I hope this article inspires you to conduct more research, and encourage health officials to provide more data about this disease.