"Dark" and "Swarthy" Europeans Are Still Light

July 3, 2020

We've seen how olive skin is misunderstood by people to mean "tan" or "non-white", now let's look at the same thing with words like "dark" and "swarthy" used to describe the complexions of Europeans. People treat them as evidence against "whiteness", but they're really just exaggerations of reality.

Benjamin Franklin applied them to a lot of groups that are far from dark, basically lumping all whites who weren't Anglo-Saxon into a "swarthy" group with non-whites, including some who are probably lighter than English people:

All Africa is black or tawny. Asia chiefly tawny. America (exclusive of the new Comers) wholly so. And in Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes, are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted, who with the English, make the principal Body of White People on the Face of the Earth.

Another well-known example of this kind of exaggeration is English ideas about the so-called "Black Irish". They're really just white people from the British Isles (not just Ireland) who have dark hair and eyes and a Mediterranean appearance — like Colin Farrell, Catherine Zeta Jones, Sean Connery, Mr. Bean, Russell Brand and many others — but old school Nordicists used to claim that part of the Celtic physiognomy was "black-tinted skin":

But even when applied to "darker" Southern Europeans, they're still an exaggeration, like in this passage from White on Arrival about how Italian gangsters were portrayed in the media:

Al Capone was constantly portrayed in books, magazine articles, pulps, and movies as having a "dark" or "swarthy" complexion. When he appeared in court in 1929 in Philadelphia on charges of having concealed a weapon, the Chicago Daily News noticed that his "face, which is rather dark, assumed a dull reddish hue." No one emphasized Italians' dark features more than popular writer and former newsman Walter Burns. In his book, The One-Way Ride, Johnny Torrio was "a slight, dapper, dark young man"; gunmen John Scalise and Albert Anselmi had "dark faces"; the Genna brothers were "swarthy, black haired, black eyed, looked not unlike Arabs, and probably had in their ancestral strain a strong dash of Saracenic [North African] blood".

From these descriptions you'd probably picture really dark Saudi Arabians or maybe even mixed-race Berbers, but here's what those people actually looked like (the rare mugshot of Capone has been skillfully colorized to show his blue eyes):

Al Capone
Genna Brothers

Johnny Torrio
John Scalise and Albert Anselmi

So the lesson is to not take descriptions like that literally or as meaning something "non-white". Europeans (including Southern Europeans) actually have the lightest untanned skin in the world, so even when they're "dark" or "swarthy", they're still lighter than everyone else.

Related: Al Capone: From "Dark" to "Fair"


Unknown said...

This article is false. Swarthy did indeed mean dark-skinned and there are numerous amounts of old descriptions of the word swarthy being used to describe a person of the negroid and/or African stock.

The word swarthy is stemmed from the German "Schwartz", which literally means "Black".

Black Irish did exist through way of Spain and Moors, hence the term "Moor-ish" dancing. The vast majority of the Moors in europe were described as black also. And yes, Black people were in Britain since antiquity. The oldest skeleton remains found in Britain are of the Negroid stock. Take the following two quotes.

"We know that the first inhabitants of Britain and more especially those of the northern parts, were craniologically of a type approaching to the Negro or the Australian race"
- Ancient and Modern Britons, David Mac Ritchie 1884

Cornwall, then, was in the early days of the Neolithic age, inhabited by a race of pygmies, like the bush of South Africa, and whom, for convenience, I shall call the “Piskey-Dwarfs”
- Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall – 1907-1977

Southern Italy is known to have had a huge Moorish influence, especially Sardinia. Take a look at the coat of arms and flag of Sardinia, its called "The Four Moors Heads" and shows the head of four negros. Hence Southern Italians were more swarthy up until recent due to moorish admixture.

I have so much historic evidence to prove that the word Swarthy was used (for the most part) in Europe to describe "Black" people and I can back up everything that I say.

Racial Reality said...

You don't know what you're talking about, and your sources are all outdated. Modern anthropology has shown that those "Negroid" and "Australoid" ancient Europeans were actually Caucasoid. Moors were also not black, they were Arab-Berber Caucasoids. Black Irish have nothing to do with Spain or Moors, much less with Black Africans. And Italians have almost no Moorish influence because the Moors were expelled.

When "swarthy", "dark" and "black" are applied to Europeans, they mean "brunet-white", which is no darker than #18 on the Von Luschan Scale.

Vesuvius said...

Where did southern Italians come from?

*just getting into this racial science thing, what should I start reading?

Racial Reality said...

If you want to learn about Italian ancestry, you should start here:


Then click on the Labels on the right for more related posts.

Lolcox said...

Franklin said whatever his opinions were but he was no anthropologist. The first US immigration/naturalization law of 1790 was signed/ratified by the first US congress and limited citizenship only to "White" people. This category of "White" included all of these so-called "swarthy" European groups and even Jews. Irish for example, although historically often despised and discriminated against in the USA, were never classified as non-Whites under US law. There was plenty of historical legislation designed to prevent certain groups that were considered "White" from immigrating to the USA, especially Jews. The whole idea that "White" only applied to WASPs, or that "White" meant "not racially discriminated against" is a modern invention pushed primarily by ideologically-driven race denialists.

Rothi said...

Nonesense article. Southern Italians tend to have a darker hue of their skin that British. Swarty is referred to that. There are lots of shades among the white race and denying their existence makes not sense, but sheds light on the quality of these posts.

Cwyn said...

Absolutely true. Nonwhites can't handle these facts in their "nonwhites used to be great" envy of Whites. They project their own views on White material without looking at the context.

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