Are North Africans black?
In general, of course, the answer is no. Most North Africans are morphologically Caucasoid. However, RM's treatment of his this topic again shows a double standard. RM takes great pains to point out that Northern Europeans are "not pure", while he totally ignores Negroid admixture in North Africans.
"The Egyptians were—and still are for the most part—North African Hamites, meaning Mediterranean white."
RM paints a very simplistic and incomplete picture. It should be pointed out that:
- Most "Mediterranean whites" in Egypt have little or nothing to do with southern European "Mediterraneans" (lumping all of the dark, meso- and dolicho-cephalic Caucasoids of Europe, Asia, and Africa together into their own, seperate "Mediterranean race" makes no sense and the idea is not supported by modern genetics).
- Most Egyptian "Mediterraneans" would not be considered white by American standards. It's important for RM that he maintain North Africans are "white", since RM knows southern Italians have North African admixture, and RM wants to think of himself as an unmixed white.
- In addition to "Mediterraneans", Cro-Magnoid types and mixed East African Negroids were present in ancient Egypt.
Of course, it's still a far cry to say Negroids "founded" Egypt (the issue of race in Egypt is complex and I plan to add some discussion of it in the future). Nor do west African Negroids have anything to do with Egypt.
But, with this myth, RM's reversal of reality is in full force: from reading this and his other myths, we can gather that RM believes North Africans are pure white, Southern Europeans have negligible admixture, and Northern Europeans are full-blown mongrels.
North Africans have sub-Saharan ancestry
Modern North Africans are heavily admixed with Negroid. Brakez et al. (2001) found 26% Negroid maternal lineages in a Moroccan population, with the influence matching a "south-north cline of sub-Saharan influence in North Africa". This result is in accord with, Rando et al. (1998), who found:
. . . a pronounced gradient of sub-Saharan lineages from north to south: at the one extreme, the Berbers from Morocco have a predominantly European (Iberian) affinity, while at the other extreme, the Tuareg are closely related to sub-Saharan West Africans as represented by several Senegalese groups in this study, whereas the West-Saharans and Mauritanians are somewhat intermediate.
Levels of sub-Saharan mtDNA found in the study ran from 4% in Moroccan Berbers, 17% in Algerian Berbers, and 21% in non-Berber Moroccans to 44% in Saharans and Mauritanians, and 82% in Tuareg.
The Negroid paternal contribution in North Africa is smaller: one study (Rosser et al. 2000) determined 4% or 5% of North African Y-chromosomes belong to sub-Saharan haplogroup 8. Bosch et al. (2001) found on average 8% of coastal northwest African Y-chromosomes were sub-Saharan. Interestingly, the frequency of sub-Saharan Y-chromosomes was 13% in north-central Moroccan Berbers, compared to only 2.5% in southern Moroccan Berbers, reversing the trend seen in mtDNA. Whether this backwards cline of paternal sub-Saharan ancestry is statistically meaningful, I do not know. Regardless, with the very high levels of sub-Saharan mtDNA in Tuareg and Saharans, the overall south-north trend of declining Negroid influence should hold.
So we would expect a Negroid contribution of 5-20% of total genes in coastal North Africans (and more in Saharans and Tuaregs). There is no doubt considerable variation between different groups in north Africa, and sampling difficulties must be taken into account. Different groups and regions in North Africa will have different genetic histories, but what is clear is that Negroid admixture is present throughout North Africa at much higher levels than in Europe (though, interestingly, the Portuguese sample in Rando showed as much admixture as the Moroccan Berber sample). Also, note that although North Africans are primarily Caucasoid, "genetic drift due to small population size in conditions of population isolation may" have played a significant role in the evolutionary history of North Africans (Dios et al. 2001). At least one component of the North African population has been present in North Africa since the Paleolithic (as indicated by mtDNA haplogroup U6). Even without sub-Saharan admixture, North Africans would still be distinct from Europeans.
It's unclear exactly how recent the sub-Saharan admixture in North Africa is. Dios et al. (2001) claim that:
Less than 10,000 years ago, the Saharan region was much wetter, with populations from both north and south of the Sahara coexisting (Dutour et al. 1988). It was at this time that there could have been a period of relative genetic exchange, which would be seen in the profile of the present-day Moroccan population, as shown by the previously mentioned multivariate analyses.
However, Rando et al. (1998) find that the coalescence time of sub-Saharan mtDNA lineages in North Africa is 6000 years, and the authors state that if anything the actual dispersion of sub-Saharans into North Africa was more recent than this -- "either during the Neolithic or with slave trade".
Bosch et al. High-resolution analysis of human Y-chromosome variation shows a sharp discontinuity and limited gene flow between northwestern Africa and the Iberian Peninsula. Am J Hum Genet 2001 Apr;68(4):1019-29.
Brakez et al. Human mitochondrial DNA sequence variation in the Moroccan population of the Souss area. Ann Hum Biol 2001 May-Jun;28(3):295-307.
Dios et al. Sub-Saharan genetic contribution in Morocco: microsatellite DNA analysis. Hum Biol 2001 Oct;73(5):675-88.
Keita, S.O.Y. Studies of Ancient Crania From Northern Africa. Am J Phys Anthropol. 1990 Sep;83(1):35-48.
Rando et al. Mitochondrial DNA analysis of northwest African populations reveals genetic exchanges with European, near-eastern, and sub-Saharan populations. Ann Hum Genet 1998 Nov;62 (Pt 6):531-50.
Rosser et al. Y-Chromosomal Diversity in Europe Is Clinal and Influenced Primarily by Geography, Rather than by Language. Table 1. Am J Hum Genet 2000 67:1526-1543.