Black and White Twins

The Guardian has an article about a pair of twins, one white and one black. (These seem to be the categories the twins use for themselves.) The most serious problems they have encountered seem to stem from people’s inability to accept the white twin’s identification as white, since he has a black parent and a black twin. In other words, it’s due to a collision between the use of race categories as descriptive of skin colour and the use of race categories in a genetic & (perhaps) one-drop rule manner. (The “one drop rule” is the tradition of categorising a person as black if they have *any* black ancestors. It’s not clear that this exact rule is at work here, but it certainly sounds like the black parent is considered more important to determining race than the white parent.)

Thanks, S!

8 thoughts on “Black and White Twins

  1. The white twin looks like someone who could pass for either race depending on how he did his hair and whatnot. It just goes to show how arbitrary race really is. I can imagine a distant future where race goes away as an important explanatory factor for society, but I can’t imagine any such erasure of gender/sex… Perhaps due to my own short-sightedness?

  2. I identify myself as mixed race, white British (or maybe white Cornish) / Black (East)African.

    I’ve got a little girl, 5mnths old. My wife is white and little Freda appears to have light skin, not sure how her hair will turn out as she still hasn’t got that much.

    Of course intellectually I think that race is just a social construct (in a strong sense) and thus it makes no sense to ask whether she is black or white.

    However, emotionally my own life as been defined by the ethnicity people perceived me to have. Particularity growing up in overwhelmingly white Cornwall. So, it seems strange to me to imagine little Freda as not being black, i.e. as someone who isn’t going to share the same conception of themselves as different from the ‘natives’.

  3. Do the Brits subscribe to that one-drop nonsense too? I thought that was an American bias–and a bias that oh-so-conveniently doesn’t apply to people of First Nations ancestry, I might add. We’re considered ‘white’ when we’re any less than half ‘red’ to cancel our eligibility for dual citizenship, tax-exempt status, etc. And yet some people (*some* Americans and some Brits?) would define a darker-skinned person’s ethnicity for them with BS about ‘one drop’ when they want to be condescending. Yucky.

    I think the twins are cute too :-) Let them define their own ethnicity. I’ll just think of them as British until they say otherwise.

  4. In Britian we don’t go through the same racial tension as in the states, due to no conflict over our historical background, if you were black or of some mix in britain you were either a foreigner or a product of foreign ancestry as it is the same for asians and recent Europeans in america, there are blacks who would identify themselves from an African country origin e.g. Nigeria, or from the carribeans e.g. jamaica.

    We rarely have any african-american in the UK, in fact none that iv heard of, color isn’t a huge issue at all in england, if you wanted to escape from racial tension it would be best to come to the UK, its a melting pot of multiculturism. The only issue White british have is with religion, the rise in islamaphobic rants and the middle east issues that obviously would die of in a decade or so. England is a wonderful place to live in, the white british are very nice and interesting people, more tolerent and interested in multiculturalism and foreign heritage.

    In fact mixed britains are the most favored in the UK, they are quite boastful of their mixed heritage. Recently two years ago a Nigerian couple, fully black, had their third child and came out white-blond-blue eyed, and wasn’t an albino. This was a national shock and amazement, what was surprising was the states responded that the must have mother cheated, circulated on social networking sites e.g. youtube, but then DNA tests proved they were both the parents and came by chance of genetic shifts from both of the family tree with European ancestry or even the fact that early humans had dark skin complexion and over change in environment, triggered this mutation (i wouldn’t call it mutation, more like adaptation to the differed hemisphere around the globe, common sense :/)

    Mix is beautiful, The UK embraces it, in fact we have boxes for each kind of mix because we have acknowledged all of them.

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