Debunking the “million to one,” “black and white twins” obsession

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

black and white twins australian interracial couple alicia jasminLet the hysteria begin! The media has yet another set of “miracle” twins to obsess over. An Australian black/white mixed woman with a white husband recently gave birth to twins Alicia and Jasmin, girls that The Daily Telegraph refers to as “one black and one white.” The paper also claims that “experts say the chance of twins being born with such different physical characteristics is about a million to one.” (Thanks to Tariq for this tip!)

This is the not the first time we’ve seen this kind of “million to one” incident though. In February of this year, the media was all aflutter over an English couple – both father and mother were of mixed black and white heritage themselves – who had “black and white twins.”

The fascination with these two cases says a lot about the way we think of race. First, people are still so intent on forcing people into neat little categories. But these children are all mixed – they’re not solely “black” or “white.” Second, it’s amazing how much phenotype – especially skin color – warps people’s perceptions.

On episode 18 of Addicted to Race, we spoke about the English twins with Dr. Joseph L. Graves, the evolutionary biologist who wrote the excellent book The Race Myth: Why We Pretend Race Exists in America. He rightly pointed out people were making it seem as if the sisters looked nothing alike (see a pic here) but in fact, their features were very similar. Yes, one sister looked signficantly more European than the other, but the other had European facial features as well. But most people simply could not look beyond the child’s dark skin.

Moreover, Graves said that “to describe the child as simply black because she had darker skin betrays the underlying racist ideology that one has to be either black or white.” I would definitely encourage you to have a listen to his rant about this. You can listen here, and his segment begins around the 15-minute mark.

There’s nothing particularly miraculous about siblings who vary greatly in phenotype. It’s simply a matter of genetic variation. There are plenty of African-American families in which this kind of variation can be found, for example, because of the genetic variation in those families that resulted from the sexual relationships between white slaveowners and their slaves. So the next time you see a story that claims that this is a “million to one” occurrence, don’t believe the hype.

links for 2006-10-27

Latino Muslims: the media’s latest obsession?

by guest contributor Tariq Nelson, originally published at Tariq Nelson

quran koranThere have been soooo many articles about Hispanics/Latinos (particularly Latinas) and their interest in Islam. Nothing else to write about? Why not yet another article on Latin Muslims? One has to wonder why so much emphasis has been put on Latino Muslims in the media lately.

I suppose since the biggest media issues have been Muslims and Mexican illegal immigration, this would be the perfect hybrid story. It’s just that they’ve gone there so many times…

With her hijab and dark complexion, Catherine Garcia doesn’t look like an Orlando native or a Disney tourist. When people ask where she’s from, often they are surprised that it’s not the Middle East but Colombia.

That’s because Ms. Garcia, a bookstore clerk who immigrated to the US seven years ago, is Hispanic and Muslim. On this balmy afternoon at the start of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, she is at her mosque dressed in long sleeves and a long skirt in keeping with the Islamic belief in modesty. “When I was in my country I never fit in the society. Here in Islam I feel like I fit with everything they believe,” she says.

Garcia is one of a growing number of Hispanics across the US who have found common ground in a faith and culture bearing surprising similarities to their own heritage. From professionals to students to homemakers, they are drawn to the Muslim faith through marriage, curiosity and a shared interest in issues such as immigration. Continue reading

Did anyone watch Madonna on Oprah?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Did any of you see yesterday’s episode of Oprah, where she interviewed Madonna about the recent adoption controversy? I only had time to watch half of it on the old Tivo, but I plan on posting my thoughts tomorrow after finishing the show tonight. In the meantime, here’s a very critical take on it from The New York Post.

If you saw it, what did you think?

links for 2006-10-26

Harold Ford Jr: Where the white women at?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

UPDATE 10/26/06: I completely forgot about the incident earlier this month where the Corker campaign actually darkened a photo of Ford, in the same manner as that infamous Time magazine cover that darkened OJ Simpson’s mugshot. Thanks dcase for the reminder! Also, the latest in Ford racialiciousness (thanks Tariq for the tip!) comes from Memphis mayor Willie Herenton, who “sees Ford as getting a full pass on the racial front because of his light skin. ‘He can go places and do things that I can’t,’ says the mayor. As for Herenton himself, who faces reelection next year, ‘I’m just too dark.’” I can’t wait to see what’s next in this racial soap opera of a senate race.

Congressman Harold Ford Jr.’s bid for the Tennessee Senate seat has been quite a racialicious ride. Back in March, we reported that he felt the need to reveal that his grandmother was white — perhaps in a misguided attempt to appeal to white voters? Things then took a bizarre turn when his aunt refuted that claim, declaring that Vera Ford was simply a light-skinned black woman.

A few months later in July, we told you that Gawker received a gossip item about Ford having dinner with a white woman and another interracial couple. The email claimed that passersby were “upset at the jungle fever” and that Ford was a “Southern sellout.” What’s even more despicable than the blatant racism in the gossip item? It was sent to Gawker by high profile New York public relations firm, Rubenstein PR. And the whole thing was an attempt to get press for the restaurant Ford was dining at.

According to MSNBC, his opponent Bob Corker has begun airing a commercial that seems designed to appeal to people’s fears of miscegenation. “In the ad, a young white actress playing the stereotype of a “dumb blonde” talks about meeting Ford, a 36-year-old bachelor who is black, “at the Playboy party.” At the end of the ad, she winks and says to the camera, “Harold — call me.””

I don’t know if it’s funny or sad that the “he’s coming for our women!” tactic still works in 2006.

Here’s the video of the ad, which I found via DiversityInc:

Brand-new “Addicted to Race” episode out now (#45)!

by Jen Chau and Carmen Van Kerckhove

A brand-new episode of Addicted to Race is out! If you haven’t already, please subscribe to our podcast in iTunes. Click here to launch iTunes and subscribe today, it’s absolutely free.

THE DANGERS OF POSITIVE STEREOTYPES
In this episode of Addicted to Race, we share with you the recording of last Tuesday’s live show. On the show, we discussed the dangers of positive stereotypes. Why are we so quick to agree with positive stereotypes about our ethnic or racial group? How can we begin to see that these positive stereotypes exist at the expense of other groups? Are positive stereotypes just as harmful as negative stereotypes? Thanks to everyone who listened live and called in! We’ll be doing another live show next month – stay tuned for details.

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Duration – 1:00:33
File Size – 24.4 MB
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6th Erase Racism Carnival is out now!

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Head on over to Taking Place to check out the sixth edition of the Erase Racism Carnival. vegankid has collected posts covering a variety of topics; american vernacular to childrens books, team mascots to team players. A couple posts from our new blogs Anti-Racist Parent and Race Changers are also included. Thanks for that! :)
Autobiography of a Face is hosting the next edition of the carnival, so be sure to submit your posts. If you are interested in hosting a future edition of the carnival, please get in touch with vegankid or Rachel.