"I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." This quote by Martin Luther King Jr. does not only apply to people of different races. The concept of a person being different from what we perceive as the norm is frightening and strange to many individuals. Myths, legends, and movies are derived from a genetic defect such as albinism. For example, " many Native American and South Pacific tribes believed that human beings and animals with albinism were messengers from divine entities. Some saw them as good omens and treated them with utmost respect, while others viewed their presence as a manifestation of wrongdoings within the tribe." Also, in the Nineteenth Century, people with albinism were put into circus acts to be displayed for the amusement of others. Even today, albinism significantly influences the physical, emotional, and social aspects of an affected person's life.
Albinism is a genetic trait cause by recessive genes. This means that both the mother and father must carry a recessive gene in order for their offspring to have albinism. The parents do not inevitably need to have albinism in order to have an "albino" child. People who have an altered gene but do not show characteristics of it because they also have a normal gene are known as carriers. Albinism causes a lighter, paler color of the skin, due to a lack of melanin pigment. " Melanin is a dark compound that is called a photoprotective pigment." It is found in the skin, the iris, the brain, the retina of the eye, and in the hair. It is formed by the conversion of amino acid to Tyrosine, then to melanin pigment. The enzymes Tyrosinase, DHICA oxidase, and dopachrome tautomerase do this. An enzyme is a specialized protein the body forms to speed up or slow down the rate of a chemical reaction. Albinism is able form because the mutation of the Tyrosinase and DHICA oxidase genes because of a loss of function with these enzymes.