Meet the Sisters who are Changing the Conversation about Race
The story of Lucy and Maria Almyer shows us that the discussion of race is relevant even in one’s immediate family. Lucy has fair skin, blue eyes and red hair. Maria has darker skin, brown hair and brown curls. They aren’t just sisters. In fact, they are non-identical twins.
The Daily Mail covered the story of the girls, 18, from Gloucester UK, in an article last week. Lucy told the Daily Mail, “No one ever believes we are twins. Even when we dress alike, we still don’t look like sisters, let alone twins. Friends have even made us produce our birth certificates to prove it.”
When I read the article, I couldn’t help but wonder why it’s even the subject of a news story in the first place. Why is this so fascinating to us? Why is our immediate reaction to not believe the fact that they could even be related?
We haven’t gotten to a place yet where “biracial” is as common an identity as identifying oneself has having German or Japanese ethnicity. However, in the UK and the US interracial relationships are more common than ever before. An article in the Telegraph states that from 2001 to 2011, the number of people who identified themselves on the census forms as “mixed” or “multiple” ethnicity went from 660,000 to 1.2million, making it the fastest growing category. In the US, the 2010 Census shows that multiple-race population grew faster than the single-race population, by 32% from 2000 to 2010.
Mic.com picked up the story and attempts to reconcile our reactions as a reflection of today’s society that still doesn’t fully accept or understand the multiracial landscape. The author writes, “Yet even with multi-ethnic people becoming more visible in society, there remains a broad misunderstanding of who these individuals are and how they experience their racial or ethnic identities.” He adds, “The Aylmer twins underscore the need to move beyond understanding racial and ethnic identities as static and singular, and more towards examining them along a spectrum of possibilities. It’s also important to remember that despite what society might dictate about white skin or dark skin, we need to believe multi-ethnic people when they share who they are with the world.”
Clearly the girls aren’t fazed by what others may think of them. Lucy tells the Daily Mail, “Maria loves telling people at college that she has a white twin – and I’m very proud of having a black twin.”
Interracial relationships and biracial children should no longer shock our society. Stories such as these can help shed light on the complexity and beauty of our ethnic dentity.