Friday, July 25, 2008

Thrusting racism upon babies who just got here.

This story greeted me on the Yahoo! front page this morning:

Medical rarity, Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch. (Click on the last picture with the two tiny hands.)

Mixed-race couple Florence and Stephan Gerth show off their twin boys Ryan and Leo in a Berlin hospital. The twins, who have radically differing skin tones, were born by Caesarean section.

Here are some additional headlines about this allegedly rare occurrence:

Twins With Different Skin Color Born In Germany. Not bad so far.

Black and white twins born to German mixed-race couple. Hmm.

Black and white twins: Brothers from the same mother. Yeah, they're from the same mother. They're twins.

Rare twin boys born - one black, one white
. Rare? Really?

One-in-a-Million Twins: One White, One Black
. I don't think it's one in a million if it keeps happening. Did these reporters skip the genetics sections in their high school biology classes? Both parents pass on their genes to their offspring.

Two in a Million: Twins Born - One Black, One White
. Two in a million?! That's actually less rare that one in a million. And the closing line of the article:

"Both kids have definitely the same father," the doctor added.

Nice subtle suggestion of adultery when referring to an interracial family. That's Fox News. Keeping it classy with a K.

Medical marvel in Germany. Marvel? I'm not even certain that this baby is a medical marvel in 2008.

Miracle twins, one dark-skinned, one light, born to interracial couple. It would be a miracle if they could heal the sick, or turn water into wine. But fraternal twins with different skin colors is not a miracle.

Twins defy all odds. What odds? As far as I can tell, this was not a high risk pregnancy, and the babies did not pop out significantly early.

Woman gives birth to 'black and white twins'!. Exclamation point!

This whole thing simply confirms what kind of ignorant people run our news media. People who still cannot grasp the concept that skin color literally does not define who you are.

It reminded me of Andrew Kennedy, the comedian, who was born to a Colombian mother and a British father. And a black grandmother. Yet he came out white like his father, just like many other Latino people. But sometimes when Mr. Kennedy speaks Spanish to Latinos of a browner persuasion, he gets stared at in horror, as if he were a dog that started talking. In his act, he also mentions that he and his siblings all look different, with their various sizes and colors. So when they get together, they look like a bunch of strangers gathered at a bus stop. I couldn't find that specific clip, but this one is fun, too:



Renee said...

It seems that the media is only concerned with perpetuating difference. When I look at the picture I see two beautiful boys and it reminds me of when my little guys were babies. Unfortunately I am afraid these headlines are just an example of what these boys will have to go through in life. We teach children about race and difference, they are not born attaching value to race.

Stephanie said...

There are twin girls from Britain that were born in 2005 that received all this hubbub first and are super cute.

They are getting the million and one odds from this:

The odds against of a mixed race couple having twins of dramatically different colour are a million to one.

Skin colour is believed to be determined by up to seven different genes working together.

If a woman is of mixed race, her eggs will usually contain a mixture of genes coding for both black and white skin.

Similarly, a man of mixed race will have a variety of different genes in his sperm. When these eggs and sperm come together, they will create a baby of mixed race.

But, very occasionally, the egg or sperm might contain genes coding for one skin colour. If both the egg and sperm contain all white genes, the baby will be white. And if both contain just the versions necessary for black skin, the baby will be black.

For a mixed-race couple, the odds of either of these scenarios is around 100 to one. But both scenarios can occur at the same time if the woman conceives non-identical twins, another 100 to one chance.

This involves two eggs being fertilized by two sperm at the same time, which also has odds of around 100 to one.

If a sperm containing all-white genes fuses with a similar egg and a sperm coding for purely black skin fuses with a similar egg, two babies of dramatically different colours will be born.

The odds of this happening are 100 x 100 x 100 - a million to one.

Sorry couldn't do a link. I got it from snopes who quoted a Daily Mail article.

There are over 4 million live births per year. 1 in 90 live births will be twins according to Hellion’s Law (whatever that is?) It's 1 in 38 w/ fertility drugs.
Someone else can do the math.

Bianca Reagan said...

I'm following the math, but I think it's flawed. Mostly because these particular babies look more like each other than they look like their parents. The math also presumes 1) that purely black people and purely white people [how this purity is tested, I don't know] have completely different genes, and 2) that black people and white people are different solely because of their skin color. Fraternal twins are just siblings that happen to be born at the same time, so there's no reason they should look alike. In fact, if fraternal twins do come out looking almost identical--like Mary-Kate and Ashley--that's bizarre.

Overall, calling them one-in-a-million babies, especially when they are not, exacerbates the tendency to regard interracial couples and their mixed children as some sort of carnival sideshow. They are not human -animal hybrids. They are people.

hdurrow said...

Yes, exactly! Why do the headlines have to be so sensational?

Bianca Reagan said...

I don't know, hdurrow. And welcome! I like to read your blog!