What do the blue/black/white/gold dress and the Aylmer twins have in common? One might not see any direct correlation at first but it all boils down to one surprising factor, the relativity of race.
Lucy and Maria Aylmer are twins from Gloucester, England. They’ve become an internet sensation based on the perception that they are twins of “different races.” Fox 8 News in Cleveland and CNN went so far to announce, “one is white and one is black.” In reality the girls’ mother is half Jamaican and their father is white. The sensation that this story has become says a lot about how we in America and across the world relate to the idea of interracial families. Interracial couples and marriages are becoming more common and thus changing the face of the typical American or Brit. Instead of commending people like the Aylmers who are promoting diverse families and ignoring the more dominant trend of people marrying their own races, the internet has been treating the family as a spectacle. Gawking at teenage girls and pointing out their obvious visual differences is unproductive for promoting multiculturalism or diversity. If Americans are serious about creating a safe place for families of mixed backgrounds to flourish, then we shouldn’t be drawing attention to the Aylmer twins at all – we should accept the twin’s visual differences as a natural occurrence as our world is becoming more integrated.
How does this relate to the blue/black/white/gold dress fiasco?
Black, white, and brown are words not identifiers. Race too is merely a word and a human construct relating little to a person or group of people. The internet had a shockingly similar reaction to the optical allusion in the blue/black/white/gold dress phenomenon as they did to the Aylmer twins, belittling their situation to an issue of color. People went crazy on Facebook and Twitter trying to uncover the real colors of the infamous dress. Was it gold and white or black and blue? Once it was discovered that the true colors were black and blue people tried to understand why they couldn’t see it as such in the original photo that was posted. The internet turned to Photoshop to correct the first image so that we could see the truth in the colors. This hyper-sensitivity about seeing things for what they really are, uncovering the truth behind what we see, a kind of “figuring it out” is exactly the kind of burden the internet and media outlets have inflicted on the Aylmer sisters. Headlines that read “One is White and One is Black” only works to dismiss their diverse background and boil down their experiences to a binary issue of black versus white. People seem to have forgotten that the twins come from the same parents, the same gene pool. Lucy is no whiter than Maria and Maria no blacker than her sister Lucy. When the media labeled the sisters as black and white, they did a disservice to interracial families by insisting that what really defines us and relates people to one another is the way that they look not what they share in terms of blood relations.