Saturday, 7 April 2012

"They were at this very politically correct nursery - when Daniel drew a picture of himself, he had to make himself look black"

Black and White Twins, published over 6 months ago, is weirdly trending on The Guardian and is one of their top five stories this Easter weekend.

The section about how the boys' mother describes their time at nursery caught my attention:

"Alyson got used to the comments and the stares, the sniggers about their parentage and the "stupid things people said" when her boys were babies; but then, when Daniel and James went to nursery aged three, the twins' skin colour plunged the family into controversy. "They were at this very politically correct nursery, and the staff told us that when Daniel drew a picture of himself, he had to make himself look black – because he was mixed-race," says Alyson. "And I said, that's ridiculous. Why does Daniel have to draw himself as black, when a white face looks back at him in the mirror?"
After a row with the nursery staff, she gave interviews to her local paper and TV. "I kicked up a fuss, because it really bothered me," she says. "Daniel had one white parent and one black, so why couldn't he call himself white? Why does a child who is half-white and half-black have to be black? Especially when his skin colour is quite clearly white! In some ways it made me feel irrelevant – as though my colour didn't matter. There seemed to be no right for him to be like me."
Daniel and James are listening politely, but with slight resignation, while their mum relays the story – it is clear that, though they are aware that they are unusual, it is Alyson who is keenest on telling their tale. They don't remember the nursery incident, they say; but nod their heads as Alyson says she took them both out of it in protest."

Blogger Charmaine describes herself as "bored by this drudge" and I think she does a pretty good job of taking apart some of the assumptions and lazy thinking in the article before getting disheartened that she can't go on (read more - Black Feminists)
James (left) and Daniel Kelly, twin brothers. 
Photograph: Martin Godwin for the Guardian














The incident in the nursery certainly seems strange, though of course we only have one side of the story. I wonder what the staff were thinking if they told Daniel's parents how he had to draw himself?