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Old 09-17-2011, 07:10 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: UK
Posts: 893
Can black people have red hair?

The other day, I realised that I've never in my life seen a black person with natural ginger hair, and the few that turned up on a google image search were all obvious dye jobs.

Can black people be naturally ginger? Because if they could, I'd have thought that you'd be able to see quite a lot of them about. Is there some genetic reason why black people can't have ginger hair? Or are there plenty knocking about that I just haven't seen?
Old 09-17-2011, 07:11 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 2,912
Define "black person".
Old 09-17-2011, 07:25 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: UK
Posts: 893
I don't really mind how it's defined.
Old 09-17-2011, 07:34 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Houston
Posts: 9,345
Going by the USA's "one drop" definition of race, yes. Malcolm X, for one:

One of Malcolm's nicknames, "Red", derived from the tinge of his hair. According to one biographer, at birth he had "ash-blonde hair ... tinged with cinnamon", and at age four, "reddish-blonde hair". His hair darkened as he aged, yet he also resembled his paternal grandmother, whose hair "turned reddish in the summer sun."
Of course, not all his ancestors were "black." But he was subject to all the legal & social restrictions against one of his race.

If you want to go beyond folklore, this article has some fascinating stuff on hair color in Australian Aboriginals--who sometimes have light hair. Sniffing about at that site might produce more useful information on the actual genetics behind hair color. (Warning: Contains actual science; pay attention.)

I know you want to exclude unnatural hair color. But you never can tell. (At a wedding one cousin pointed out that the men in the family all go white-haired quite young; the women get hair in all colors.)

Last edited by Bridget Burke; 09-17-2011 at 07:36 AM.
Old 09-17-2011, 07:44 AM
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Cockaigne
Posts: 2,818
Well, just talking by experience, yes.
There are more than a few black albinos(oi?) in Africa, some of them have red hair rather than blond. But I also met some non-albinos blacks who had red hair (not Irish bright red, but definitely red tinted). It seems more common in Eastern Africa than Western, but since I'm only talking from experience, it could just be randomness that makes me say that. I am not sure though that some of those "red hair" blacks didnt actually tint them.
Old 09-17-2011, 11:49 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 6,677
Black NBA players with red hair:

Delonte West
Michael Beasley
Dennis Johnson (he even has freckles)

Blake Griffin has mixed parents (black/white) and he could have a giant red afro if he wanted.
Old 09-17-2011, 12:58 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: 50 miles NW of Chicago
Posts: 1,071
My mother was a natural redhead. Although she was very light-skinned, both her parents were African-American, as were their parents. Although our family is clearly mixed-race to some degree, (as is the average African-American) we do not know in which generation the mixing first occurred.

I also dated a man in college who was African-American and a natural redhead.

Last edited by Monstera deliciosa; 09-17-2011 at 01:00 PM.
Old 09-17-2011, 01:31 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 73,158
Comedian Redd Foxx is also said to have been a natural redhead, but I'm having a hard time finding pictures of him from before his hair turned white.
Old 09-17-2011, 02:49 PM
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 19,025
If you mean, "the descendants of African slaves brought to the Americas", well, yeah, there are plenty of black red-heads. And blonde ones too. Because of admixture with Europeans, in many cases quite recently.

"Red bone" black people stand in contrast to "high yellow" blacks (which is historically a derogatory term). To be "red bone" is to have a reddish skin complexion...often accompanied by reddish/copperish hair. Malcolm X was "red bone". Hence, his street name "Red."

There are black people who do not appear to be "mixed" in adulthood but will exhibit non-African traits when they are younger. Sometimes if you look at pictures of black Americans when they were younger, you'll find lighter hair and eye colors than they possess in adulthood. The same phenomena you find in Europeans, but just not as common.

If you're talking about Africans-from-Africa black, you will still find reddish-hair folks, especially in the East. There is also a type of partial albinism that can cause reddish features in black people. Folks with this type of mutation will have reddish/yellowish complexions (often with freckles) and reddish hair. I've seen African Americans with this mutation as well. They will often be the only light-skinned person in their immediate family. The freckles are the dead give-away.
Old 09-17-2011, 03:17 PM
Join Date: May 2011
Location: 6' deep in the heart o'Tx
Posts: 1,787
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Comedian Redd Foxx is also said to have been a natural redhead, but I'm having a hard time finding pictures of him from before his hair turned white.
Not sure if any of these album covers will help. Only one of the covers kind of shows him having reddish hair, but the photo could have been enhanced.
Old 09-17-2011, 03:38 PM
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 3,073
This photo of Redd Foxx shows reddish hair. Despite being crew-cut short, the color is still visible.
Old 09-17-2011, 09:12 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 1,699
There is a family in my neighborhood with an African-American husband and a red-headed Caucasian wife. Their two children have dark complexions and bright red hair.
Old 09-18-2011, 06:04 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: "Hicksville", Ark.
Posts: 32,979
Would most people consider that red hair, and not auburn or some other color that means brown + red?

I do think that the melanin in dark skinned people tends to also be in their hair, making their hair dark. Remember, "ginger hair" is actually low melanin hair, like blonde hair is.
Old 09-18-2011, 12:14 PM
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Bloomington, IN
Posts: 3,111
I dated a guy who was mixed--I'm not sure entirely what his heritage was except that his dad was African American and his mom was not. He had medium-toned skin and reddish hair. It was kind of dark, but very pretty color.
Old 09-18-2011, 12:23 PM
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: New York
Posts: 22,322
Originally Posted by marshmallow View Post
Black NBA players with red hair:

Delonte West
Michael Beasley
Dennis Johnson (he even has freckles)

Blake Griffin has mixed parents (black/white) and he could have a giant red afro if he wanted.
Is that really red? If I had just come across those on my own, I would have just said it was brown.

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