Genes aren’t something you wear

RomaIreland has been left red-faced over blue eyes and blonde hair. Here’s the quick version: a white-skinned, blonde-haired and blue-eyed young girl called Maria was taken from a Roma couple in Greece, who were then held for allegedly abducting her. DNA was tested. A woman, pictured left, claimed she was the child’s mother.

Meanwhile in Ireland, a ‘worried citizen’ used Facebook to raise concerns about a blonde/white girl living with a Roma family in Dublin. Gardai took the child into care over concerns for her welfare. Another blond, this time a boy, was taken from his family in another county. Again, the family were Roma.

Centrifuges whirred and DNA was extracted, while ladies and gentlemen in white lab coats performed colour-blind science.

In all three cases, the white-skinned, blue-eyed, blonde-haired children were found to belong to families with dark skin, eyes and hair.

Myriad column inches and broadcast hours have been given to parsing the law, or analysing the possibility of racism inherent in our authorities… and the national leaping to conclusions.

Beneath it all – behind even the ignorance of minority groups – there was the obvious lack of understanding of genetics; specifically, how children are made. Knowing about the birds and the bees is just not enough, we all need to know the mechanism in reproduction.

Before those DNA tests came back, the majority of people thought it ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE for two dark-skinned, -eyed and -haired parents to produce a fair-haired, blue-eyed, white-skinned child.

But they all forgot (or did not know) that Mother Nature is colour blind, too.

GenesIt’s not so simple that you get your mother’s nose and your father’s eyes, or vice versa. You wouldn’t be far wrong by thinking you get a nose that’s a mix of your mother’s and your father’s. Here’s where dominant and recessive genes come in. To make it even more confusing, your parents’ parents’ genes need to be added to the whole wonderful mixture that makes up you.

Check out the diagram, left. Purple parents CAN have a red child, if those recessive genes match up. It’s just as probable that they will have a dark blue child.

Remember, just because purple parents (or black or white or green or polka dot!) don’t have kids of the same hue doesn’t mean they’re not theirs.

Colour is only skin deep; DNA goes all the way down.


See: Blue sky thinking.

One comment

  1. […] See: Genes aren’t something you wear […]

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