Have you ever seen the movie The Greatest Showman? If you have then you can see that a lot of people in the circus are ridiculed, or made fun of. If you look close enough you might see these magnificent kinds of people. Albino people. There is an albino woman in the movie that is called a “freak” with everyone else in the show. They were called freaks because they looked different than other people, they were all very misunderstood especially the albino woman. In this report, you will learn all about the appearance of albino people and the reasons behind their appearance, their history, their potential health dangers, attacks, and interesting facts.
In 1908, Sir Archibald Garrod (1857-1936), a british physician and scientist, suggested that albinism was probably the result of the failure of an intracellular (In-tra-cell-u-lar) enzyme.
A man named William Archibald Spooner was actually an albino Warden at New College. He was born on July 22, 1844, in London. When he was only eighteen, he won a scholarship to New College, Oxford, through which he earned two first-class degrees – in classical moderations and humanities. His connections with the college lasted a lifetime. First, he was a fellow of New College in 1867. Then, he became a lecturer in 1868 and a tutor in 1869. After that, a dean from 1876-1889. Finally finishing his career as a Warden.
Connie Chiu (born in 1969) is the world’s first fashion model with albinism. Chiu was born in British Hong Kong to a Chinese family. Like many people with albinism, she has to protect her eyes and skin from the sunlight. Because of that, her family moved to Sweden when she was seven. Connie Chiu was first brought into modeling when her sister asked her to be a model at one of her shows. When she was 25, Chiu began modeling for top fashion photographers such as Terry Richardson, Paul Burley, Heidi Niemala and Morten Smidt. She later studied journalism. At age 49 today she is supposedly very busy this year but there are no further details about what she is doing though.
“Diandra Forrest ( born in 1989 ) is an African-American model and actress. She is the first female model with albinism to be signed to a major modeling agency.” said albinism.ohchr.org. She has caught the attention of many magazines including Cake Magazine, Ebony Magazine, etc… She also has a daughter named Rain who she has taken down the catwalk before. Her daughter is now about 2 years old.
“Forrest has worked for clients such as MAC, Gypsy Sport, Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier. Today she has become a spokesmodel for other albino black people, after learning of their mistreatment, particularly in East Africa, where local superstitions mean that many live in fear of abduction and mutilation.” said rhythm937.com. She is 29 this year.
Appearance and Why–
Albinism is a rare condition caused by alteration, or mutation, of one of the genes that affect normal pigment production. In any one of several genes involved in melanin (mel-a-nin) production can produce individuals with less than the normal amounts of melanin. Lack of melanin can lead to many problems. When melanin is not in the skin, the skin has no protection against ultraviolet (UV) light and burns easily in the sun. People born with albinism, a recessive trait they inherit from their parents, have little or no production of the pigment melanin. Their own skin is ivory white, (even if their parents’ skin is normal) their hair white or pale, their eyesight weak.
Part of the reason for albinism’s rarity has to do with the genetics of this trait. Pigment genes have different versions, called alleles(uh-lels). People and most animals inherit one allele from each parent. Alleles associated with albinism are recessive, which means that an organism will show the trait only if it inherits two albino alleles. Many people–about 1 in 70–carry one allele for albinism and one for typical pigmentation.
Potential Health Concerns–
The sun is a potential danger for albino people. They do not have to stay inside of their house, but the usually have to be very careful of how long they are outside and where outside they are. Exposure to the sun signals the body to pump up production of melanin. That causes skin to tan, which provides some defense against burns. People with albinism, though, don’t produce this pigment. That makes them especially susceptible to sunburns and possibly deadly skin cancers. Lack of melanin in the retina leads to lessened visual acuity.
People with albinism often have vision problems including,
depth perception issues
strabismus (crossed eyes)
photophobia (sensitivity to light or glare)
nystagmus (involuntary rapid eye movements)
impaired vision or blindness
astigmatism (a defect in the eye which results in distorted images)
The skin cancer risk for those with albinism is quite high. In 2016 a test was taken to see what percent of people with skin cancer where albino. The results where that 67% of people with skin cancer have albinism.
Albinism is classified into two main types, oculocutaneous (awk-you-low-cue-tay-nee-us) albinism (OCA) and ocular albinism (OA).
Albino people have been feared and scorned in sub-Saharan Africa, even by their families for a long time. Now they’re being attacked. Some witch doctors claim that their body parts, made into potions, powders, or charms, can bring wealth and success.
“The unprecedented wave of brutal attacks against people with albinism has created a climate of terror for this vulnerable group and their families who are living in a state of constant fear for their lives,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s director for Southern Africa. People with albinism are often deeply misunderstood around the world.
In African countries such as Tanzania and Burundi there has been an unprecedented rise in witchcraft related killings of people with albinism in recent years. People with albinism living in Malawi have been the victims of a large amount of attacks by people seeking to use their body parts in ritual practices.
“Many proven incidents have occurred in Africa during the 21st century. For example, in Tanzania, in September 2009, three men were convicted of killing a 14-year-old albino boy and severing his legs in order to sell them for witchcraft purpose. Again in Tanzania and Burundi in 2010, the murder and detachment of a kidnapped albino child was reported from the courts, part of a continuing problem.” said Wikipedia
There have been 205 killings of people with albinism, 356 attacks on them – Attacks include survivors of mutilations, violence, attempted abductions, missing, grave violations, asylum cases. There have been 561 total attacks/killings on albino people this year in 2018. They have been in 29 different countries in all.
About one in every 20,000 people worldwide have oculocutaneous albinism.
In China, there’s no schooling, no job possibilities, and rarely marriage or family for albino people in some places. It’s a lonely, isolated way of life, to say the least. The disorder is considered bad luck.
The US-based National Geographic Society estimated that in Tanzania a complete set of albino body parts is worth US$75,000!
While it’s usually thought that people with albinism have pink or red eyes, their irises differ in color from light gray to blue (most common) and even brown. The reddish color comes from light reflected off the back of the eye, in the same way as camera flashes sometimes produce images with red eyes.
The famous book “Moby Dick” was actually inspired by an albino whale in the Pacific! The whale’s real name was Mocha Dick. The “white whale of the Pacific”, Mocha Dick was a destructive sperm whale living near Mocha island off of southern Chile who survived countless attacks from whalers and retaliated fiercely when attacked.
In 1908, Sir Archibald Garrod suggested that albinism was probably due to the failure of an intracellular enzyme. Albinism is a rare condition caused by alteration, or mutation, of one of the genes that affect normal pigment production. People have been feared in sub-Saharan Africa for a long time. They’re being attacked now. It’s time that everyone treats albino people right. Next time you see an albino person, now you know why they look like they do and some things that they might have gone through. Remember, albino people are just like you and me. The only difference is the melanin amount we each receive. Never judge a book by it’s cover!