National Geographic twins

A pair of fraternal twins—one black and one white—are turning heads because of their features.

Millie Marcia Madge Biggs and her sister Marcia Millie Madge Biggs, are featured on the cover of National Geographic because one looks like her white mother while the other, with brown skin, favors her father.

Any Black person who’s been to a family reunion has probably seen someone in their family who “looks white” but is clearly Black.

This apparently has never happened to anyone at National Geographic since the venerable publication wants to claim that one girl is “white” and the other “black” in their Race Issue.

The parents, Amanda Wanklin and Michael Biggs told National Geographic, they fell in love and were unbothered by the challenges they faced being a biracial couple. Amanda says, “What was more important was what we wanted together.”

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They started their family when they settled down in Birmingham, England. On July 3, 2006, Amanda gave birth to fraternal twin girls, and the ecstatic parents gave their daughters intertwined names.

While the girls have very similar feature, their skin and hair color stand out. Marcia had light brown hair and fair skin like her English-born mother. Millie had black hair and brown skin like her father, who’s of Jamaican descent. “We never worried about it; we just accepted it,” Michael says.

“When they were first born,” Amanda recalls, “I would be pushing them in the pram, and people would look at me and then look at my one daughter and then look at my other daughter. And then I’d get asked the question: ‘Are they twins?’”

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“‘But one’s white and one’s black.’”

“Yes. It’s genes,” she replied. Amanda said most people are just curious and not openly judgmental or hostile.

“As time went on, people just saw the beauty in them.”

Amanda, who works as a home-care aide, calls Millie and Marcia her “one in a million” miracle.

But according to statistical geneticist Alicia Martin, it’s not a rarity to see a biracial couple with fraternal twins who favor each of its parents.

Again, anyone who’s been to a Black family reunion could have attested this this fact.

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According to National Geographic, when a biracial couple has fraternal twins, the traits that emerge in each child depend on numerous variables, including “where the parents’ ancestors are from and complex pigment genetics,” says Martin, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Check out more on the story confounding National Geographic editors in their Race Issue, which also includes a story about how scientific ideas of race originated, and a letter from the editor exploring National Geographic’s own checkered racist history on race, and more.