ABC News “Stirs Up Issues of Race”

Here is the title of an ABC News story: Parents Give Birth to Ebony and Ivory Twins.

The subtitle: Cunningham Siblings Are the Face of a New Biracial America Where 1 in 7 Marry Outside Their Race

AND YET, the title of the header of the page that this article is on (you know, that text at the very tippy-top of every website, above the bar where the web address of the site resides) says this:

[It reads: “Twins, One White, One Black Born to Biracial Parents Stirs Up Issues of Race – ABC News”]

Here are relevant parts of the article:

At 17 months, Triniti and Ghabriael are chubby-cheeked twins, born 11 weeks early at three pounds each and now healthy and a joy to their parents. […]

Triniti has ebony-colored skin and all the classic dark features of an African American, but “Gabe,” as his parents call him, is ivory-white with steely blue eyes and blond hair. He’s now 10 pounds heavier than his sister, but it’s their racial identity that gets people scratching their heads.

“People ask, ‘How did it happen?’ Are you sure they are twins?” said Cunningham, 29. “We get a lot of stares, and I am sure people make comments behind my back.”

Their mother is white and their father, Charles Cunningham, is black. […]

Geneticists say racial differences involve many genes and are more complex in determining looks than those for eye color, but the startling difference between the twins raises an interesting question about how mixed-race families are viewed in a country that is increasing biracial.

Even the Cunningham’s pediatrician was baffled by the black and white babies. “She asked if they were identical twins,” said Cunningham. “That was the last time we went to see her.”

Having a black and white twin is “no big deal from my viewpoint,” said Dr. Ronald Bachman, retired chief emeritus of the genetics department at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in California. [[…]

Because the United States is such a diverse country racially, couples can carry an assortment of genes from multiple racial backgrounds. Skin color, according to Bachman, is determined by “multiple genes, not a single gene.” “An assortment of genes go into the egg and sperm to get skin color,” he said. “This family is no different. The twins are just like siblings in biracial families.” […]

When the story of their black and white twins was told on the blog, Mixed and Happy, some readers reacted negatively.  “They asked if we’d had genetic tests done,” said Cunningham. Another remarked, “How can you do this to your kids?”

Here is why I am annoyed about ABC’s title that says that the twins “stir up issues of race.”  No, they don’t.

The Cunningham’s pediatrician – that jerk stirred up the issue of race.  A geneticist feeling like they have to tell a news agency that the Cunningham family is “no different” than other families – that shit stirs up issues of race.  People who comment on the blog Mixed and Happy by saying racist spew like “How can you do this to your kids” – that asshole is stirring up issues of race.  People on the street who ask a mom “How did it happen” when she sees that mom’s children – that nosy stranger is stirring up issues of race.

YOU, ABC NEWS, referring to the twins as having “startling difference[s]” – you are the ones stirring up issues of race.

So, I suggest, ABC News, you not make it seem like somehow these parents bringing these children into the world stirs up race issues.  Because the only reason there are “issues” is because there are racists.

Also, ABC, for future reference.  When you aren’t white, issues of race are basically always “stirred up”around you because you simply exist in a world that privileges white people and white skin tone.  While this may make it appear that somehow you, the non-white, are stirring things up regarding race, it is, in fact, the people who want to see anything outside the category of “normal” as somehow inciting “issues” or “playing the race card”.  And by “people”, I mean you, ABC.  I’ll say it again – you are the mainstream media organization stirring up race issues in this case.

Which leads me to my final question: what are the “issues” that this brings up?  That people in this country are bigots?  Or that people in this country are having “mixed-race” babies?  I think you should clarify that.

For more on what I think about saying that these children in particular are “mixed-race”, see an earlier post I did on a family in Nigeria where the child did not look like hir parents.

[NB: second day in a row now where I have violated my self-imposed hiatus on analysis.  I can’t help myself!]


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