Twins with Different Skins: Race, Ethnicity and Family Lineage

I’ve been looking for a platform for a while to share a very personal story.

This week I have been lucky enough to feature as a contributing writer on WrongSpeak publishing, by author Adam B. Coleman.

I first published a version of this story anonymously some time ago. 

As a beginner blogger, I was too nervous to link to it on my own blog because of the sensitive nature of the topic.

When I wrote the first version of this article I did so with other people in mind.  I wrote it from a place of fear: fearful I was going to offend someone, or that unintended meaning would be found in my words…mostly fear that I would be judged.

I’ve since realised that this is my story to tell, all I can do is tell it from my heart. 

It’s perhaps a narrative that is not often heard within the mainstream media, and it’s one I feel is important to share.

I want to thank my family for their support and encouragement in sharing this story, which is also theirs to tell.

Dad, which box do I tick?’ asked my brother when he reached the ethnic monitoring section of his first job application.

‘Which category best describes your ethnicity?’

It’s an easy question for many people, but one that’s never sat comfortably with me, because I tick a different box to my twin brother. 

Born in 1984 in northern England to a white mother and a mixed-race father, my brother and I grew up knowing little of our Caribbean and Indian ancestry on our father’s side.

I have blonde hair, green eyes and white skin, my brother has black hair, brown eyes and brown skin….

Click here to read the rest of this article.

Me & my bro in simpler times

12 thoughts on “Twins with Different Skins: Race, Ethnicity and Family Lineage

  1. Thanks for sharing this. It’s interesting to realize how complex your family’s history is and how interwoven your experiences are with the issues of today. I love this: “I need a box that says ‘Northern British girl, with Indian, Caribbean, English and Scottish ancestry and strong familial links to South Wales through upbringing and marriage’.” I hope you find that box.

    Liked by 1 person

    • But that’s the truly interesting thing, it doesn’t go the way one might expect. My brother’s skin is actually darker than my dad’s and that’s what I find fascinating. As a society we’re conditioned to believe we belong to this group or that group based on what we look like, but the differences between my twin and I demonstrate that these distinctions are constructed by us. If they’re constructed, they can be deconstructed. I’d like to see what society would look like if we paid more attention to our similarities as people, rather than differences in our appearance.


    • I agree and have wondered more and more lately what purpose they serve. It has never made sense to me why we’re expected to define ourselves by such narrow categories given the breadth of complexity in any single human being. Thanks for your kind comments, it’s always a pleasure to hear when people enjoy reading.


  2. This is so interesting. I can understand how difficult it is to explain such a difference to people. Many have a very ordinary and unexpanded mindset. It’s wonderful how your brother grew up with no discrimination. Darker skin colors are usually targets.
    And since you have some Indian ancestry, I’d say same pinch. I think having a multiracial ancestry is liberating. There’s a mix of so many diverse cultures. Thanks for sharing such a personal story. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading Terveen, glad you enjoyed it. We do feel very lucky in our family, and I’m grateful for the perspective our ancestry has given me, one that I can hopefully pass on to my own children.

      Liked by 1 person

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