Frances Cress Welsing (born Frances Luella Cress; March 18, 1935 – January 2, 2016) was an American Afrocentrist psychiatrist. The second of three girls, Welsing was born into a family that had already produced two doctors. After receiving her bachelor’s degree from Antioch College in 1957, and her M.D. at Washington D.C.’s Howard University College of Medicine five years later, Welsing pursued a career in general and child psychiatry.
In 1970, her essay The Cress Theory of Color-Confrontation and Racism (White Supremacy) was published while she was an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Howard University College of Medicine. This striking theory of the origins of racism is rooted in the effects that varying degrees of melanin—the color-producing pigment in skin—can have on racial perception and development. “The quality of whiteness is a genetic inadequacy or a relative deficiency or disease based upon the inability to produce the skin pigments of melanin which are responsible for all skin color,” she explained in the essay, adding, “The majority of the world’s people are not so afflicted, suggesting that the state of color is the norm for human beings and [its] absence is abnormal.”