If a lime tree can bear an orange, what box to trick?

Posted on août 14, 2010

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They are black. She is white. They are of a darker hue with dark frizzy hair. She is a blue eyed infant with blond loose curls. This is the story of Ben and Angela, two black parents who gave birth to a white baby called Nmachi, which means « Beauty of God ».

Nmachi and her family. She looks white but is she white?

Over a week ago, while checking my emails, I caught this attention-grabber title form Yahoo Québec: « Two black parents give birth to a white girl. »

At first, I thought that « black parents » probably meant « mixed parents » (a slight difference to be defined). After reading the article, I realized they were indeed talking about two born and bred negros (sorry about the term) who have welcome a white girl to the world. Apparently it has nothing to do with a two-timing. Even if that were the case, as the father points out, Nmachi would have looked different. (Note that Nmachi is not an albinos either).

None of the two parents have knowledge of white ancestries in the family, but some scientists seem to believe that there is some European blood behind it. It has yet to be proven. Meanwhile, this case intrigues experts but also makes Ben and Angela aghast.

Already parents of two black children born in the U.K., Ben and Angela need to ensure that while remaining proud of being British, their progeny does not turn up their noses at their Nigerian origins. Dilemma.
With Nmachi’s birth, a third unknown value has been added to the equation.
The parents are mainly anxious about the railleries their family is, and will be victim of.

Ignoring people’s ignorance is easier said than done. Growing up, Nmachi will have to face a lot prejudice from either side. We live in an era where everybody pretends to believe in multiculturalism because it is the « it » thing or simply to not displease the mass.
Meanwhile, the identity of an individual – whether racial or cultural is like an unfinished book. It can’t be shelved nor defined.
I have always hated the categorization of human being, a plague that holds sway our verdy documented society. You have to put up with it while filling an application form for scholarships or even worse, when you have to submit a questionnaire at work.
At least, I have always known what box(es) to tick. What about Nmachi?

Journalist from The Daily Mail: I ask about those forms we all have to fill in, specifying ethnic background. Will there be a doubt as to which box to tick?

A family friend No. It’ll be « Black, African », certainly.

Ben, the father: No. If her skin stays this colour she will be white. But then, she’s not white either, is she? And there isn’t really a box with « White but with black parents ». And her background is very much black African. Oh dear . . .

Daddy, can I suggest you try the « human race » box?

Twice as famous but not as unique

Nmachi is not the only baby to draw looks for having called into question the definition of race and genetic code. Before her, the press echoed other memorable cases:

1. United Kingdom – Kian & Remee


In 2006, a mixed-race man and a mixed-race woman left the hospital with twins. On one hand they held a mixed-race looking girl with cinnamon skin, dark chocolate eyes and black hair. On the other hand was a white-looking baby with vanilla flavored skin, blue ocean eyes and golden hair.

2. United Kingdom – Lauren & Hayleigh, Miya & Leah


In 2001, Alison and Dean became the parents of twin sisters. One looks like any other white baby and the other simply looks mixed-race. Non-contents with this first affront to nature, the family did it again in 2010 by adding another set of twins made of another mixed race girl and another white girl.

3. Australia – Martha & Daniel


Carole Fraser, a mixed race woman married to a white man gives birth to twins. One came out looking mixed-race while the other looks white. The most incongruent in the story is that Carole knew it in her bone that she would have children of two different races! Is it a new trend?

4. South Africa – Sandra Laing


In 2010, the big screens projected the story of Sandra Laing, a mixed-race looking woman born to white parents. Sandra gave the runaround to the administration which changed her race four times… on papers. Can you picture a family night out at the movies or at the restaurant during the apartheid?..

Other interesting family pictures…

What is nature trying to tell us?