Can we get a moratorium on “amazing” black-and-white twin stories?

Jan 2nd, 2009 | LONDON — A mixed-race British couple has defied the odds — twice — by producing two sets of twins in which one sibling appears to be black and the other white.

Dean Durrant’s newborn daughter Miya has dark skin like him. Twin sister Leah has fair skin like her blue-eyed, red-haired mother, Alison Spooner.

Their older siblings Lauren and Hayleigh, born in 2001, also have strikingly different skin tones and eye colors.

“There’s no easy way to explain it all. I’m still in shock myself,” Durrant, 33, told Sky News on Wednesday. Read more…

Today, all over the news, folks are talking about the Durrant twins, the second set of multiples born to a white mom and black dad in England. In both sets of children, one twin has dark coloring and one light. And the world is inexplicably amazed.

Everytime a story like this pops up in the news, it makes my blood boil. It demonstrates how little we know about the genetics of racial characteristics vs. the lines that society draws around race. “There’s no easy way to explain it all.” Really? Doesn’t the randomness of dominant and recessive genes explain it pretty well?

These “OMG! A biracial (usually black and white) family has children that appear to be of different races!” stories also underscore how little attention society gives to the broad range of physical characteristics apparent in people we view as wholly African American. Due to the multiracial backgrounds of (I would say) most black Americans, you can find stark differences like those found in the Durrant children within families including two African American parents. Anyone who has attended a black American family reunion has witnessed a gathering of dark and light skin and hair, straight and curly tresses, keen and broad features–within immediate (brother and sisters) and extended families (cousins, aunts and uncles).

The birth of the Durrant twins is only exciting in that they are surely a wonderful gift to their parents this holiday season. Their skin color is not amazing. And our fascination with it demonstrates how little we know about the realities of “race” and how much we want people to fit into racial boxes by “looking the part.”


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About Tami

Tami Winfrey Harris writes about race, feminism, politics and pop culture at the blog What Tami Said. Her work has also appeared online at The Guardian’s Comment is Free, Ms. Magazine blog, Newsweek,, Huffington Post and Racialicious. She is a graduate of the Iowa State University Greenlee School of Journalism. She is mom to two awesome stepkids and spends her spare time researching her family history and cultivating a righteous 'fro.
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