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"The Beautiful Spotted Negro Boy"

George Alexander was a black child with a skin pigmentation disorder
known as piebaldism. For much of his short life he was exhibited for
show, described as ‘the Beautiful Spotted Negro Boy’ and ‘a fanciful
child of nature formed in her most playful mood’.

George was born to black African parents who were slaves on a
plantation on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. From birth George
attracted attention and curiosity, and as a baby he was displayed in
his local town for a fee of one dollar. When he was just 15 months old
he was transported to Bristol where he was delivered into the care of a
travelling showman named John Richardson. He was baptised at Newington Church in Surrey on 22 July 1810.

George was the star attraction in Richardson’s travelling theatre.
He was exhibited at fairs and shows, and was shown privately to wealthy
patrons. Although Richardson was said to have behaved with ‘great
kindness’ George was often exhibited for up to twelve hours a day.

This schedule may have affected his health. George died on 3
February 1813 of a tumour in the jaw. He was buried at All Saints
Church in Richardson’s hometown in Marlow. By his own request,
Richardson was later buried in the same vault as George and their
tombstones were bolted together.

From "A Visible Difference: Skin, Race, and Identity: 1720-1820," an exhibition by the Royal College of Surgeons of England


The condition is known as vitiligo. I wrote an article about the condition over at The Human Marvels in regards to the first widely documented case; Marie-Sabina born October 12, 1736.

I also mentioned George and his contemporaries as well.

The condition was often inappropriately referred to as 'piebald' when present in people of color, likening them to livestock.
You may read the full article here:

http://www.thehumanmarvels.com/2007/05/zebra-people-piebald.html
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The Royal College of Surgeons uses the terms piebaldism on this site, which deals with historical cases, and vitiligo on another site referring to more modern cases.
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The exhibition also includes Marie-Sabina, etc., but I was mainly interested in George Alexander because of the stunning portrait and the strange relationship between him and his manager/guardian. Vitiligo is particularly interesting for the racial ambiguities and questions it raised at the time. Now it's a fairly well known and not very dramatic skin disorder, but then it had powerful philosophical and social implications.
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Oddly enough, there are still many, many people who have never heard of vitiligo, even in the USA. This is despite the fact that both Michael Jackson and one of his sisters have it. Of the few who have heard of it, many assume that it only affects Black people. Actually, anyone can develop it, regardless of how dark or pale their skin was to begin with; it's just more visible if one's skin is darker.

Because I believe that "race" is really just an outmoded cultural construct, and I love to make people question inherently racist political agendas, I'll sometimes bring up the matter of vitiligo. For instance, as an employer, I was required by a rather officious management office to fill out a form listing my employees and providing various statistics. One of the blanks to be checked off was "Minority? Yes___ No___" I asked the person who required the form what exactly was meant by this "minority." Within seconds, it became apparent that their idea of what made a person a "minority" was an unbelievably insensitive set of generalizations. I further exacerbated things by inquiring as to where exactly does one draw the line --- at which point does a person cease to be "black" and become "white"? What if the person gets a deep tan? or develops vitiligo? I pointed out that one's parentage has very little to do with one's shade of brown; I've seen so-called "interracial" couples produce children who might easily be labeled one or the other, as well as "mixed." In the end, I labeled everyone "minority" on the form, after I'd determined that the point of it was to see if some quota was being met.

For the record, all three employees happened to be women, two of Puerto Rican ancestry and one recently arrived from Ethiopia. Maybe someone out there views them as minorities --- but I never thought of them that way. Half the human population is female, ergo, women are not a minority; women are equal partners. As for the brownness of their skin, who am I to judge? Apparently, in this city, my own skin's total lack of melanin production makes ME the "minority."
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JT, I was just adding my two cents too. Nicholas, that sort of thing drives me crazy. I'm a teacher at a university and every semester I have to fill out a form saying how many of each "race or ethnicity" are in my classes. I just guess based on names and tans, but I've strongly objected to the whole procedure -- like you're never going to run into a blond "hispanic" for instance...And why is it anybody's business but their own what ethnicity people identify with?
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I always told myself that if I was ever going to get a skin condition, I'd pick vitiligo. I frankly think it's beautiful to have such colorful skin!

Gail--I actually work with a woman who is pale, blonde, and blue-eyed. Her brother is tan, black-haired, and has brown eyes. They are both 100-percent related, not half-siblings. And they are both half Hispanic. It's hysterical to see people's reactions, because on their own you wouldn't think they were siblings. But they share so many physical features that the relation becomes glaringly obvious if they are standing together!

I never could understand the whole race thing myself, too. It's just skin, after all, and we're all the same color underneath.

--TwoDragons
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The thing I like about this article is how the child was billed as "beautiful" and an example of "nature's whimsy," etc, rather than as a person with a skin disorder. The people back then didn't know this wasn't a "normal" variation, and they liked it. They thought it was pretty. Of course the child was exploited, but he was also loved and admired. A very interesting peek into a different social milieu
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It's a very sensitive portait too. You can tell that the artist was looking at him as an individual rather than just a specimen.
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Thesw white spots results from a derangement of your normal defense mechanisms against infection. Actually body starts producing antibodies against pigment producing cells of its own skin.
Generaly these white patches called Vitiligo.
Vitiligo is anomaly of internal immune system of human beings, and currently there are no precise ways to treat this process.
Although the complete annihilation of the vitiligo from your body is a complex matter, whereas original color of skin can be brought back.
According to my observation tropical treatment is quite better Cure of vitiligo because there has no side effect as well as negative effects. Other thing is you can apply it for some affected part of your body for testing purposes. And final thing which you need is tropical treatment is quite faster than homeopathy.
Thanks to
http://www.antivitiligo.com
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