Whitney is White and Tomas is Black. They were as surprised as anyone else when their children were born with sharply different skin tones.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on April 13, 2022. It has since been updated.
Kalani and Jarani Dean are beautiful twins but with a rare distinction. Kalani was born with light skin and Jarani has darker skin. It's rare to see children with mixed-race parents get the skin-tone color of just one of their parents. Their mother, Whitney Meyer, is white and their father, Tomas Dean, is Black. Whitney is hoping they become a symbol against racism, and become a reminder to love everyone equally. "Kalani was as white as can be. I was just in denial because you know the odds of this? I would never think I would have a black and white twin. That's why I asked if she was albino because she was just so white," said Whitney, reported TODAY.
It's common for children to be born with a skin tone that's a mix of the skin tones of both their parents. In rare cases, children are born with a skin tone that's closer to one parent, but Kalani and Jarani appear to have taken on the color of each parent, making them unique. Tomas was just as surprised as anyone else. "I was like, 'Yeah, she's a little light,' but I thought maybe babies are that way when they're first born. But then a couple of minutes later, her sister came out a little darker. In a million years, I never thought I'd have a girl with blue eyes. I didn't think I could pull that one off! I hope that a lot of people can see that color really isn't a big thing. What's important is love. Mysterious things can happen and life is a blessing."
Whitney said no one believes that they are twins, even if she dresses them the same. She added that they have similar facial features including their smile but the color of the twins throws people off. Intriguingly, Kalani looks much like her older Caucasian brother, Talan, and Jarani looks like Meyer's 2-year-old son, Pravyn, who had drowned. The twins are two years younger than Pravyn.
It's always been a mystery to scientists how genes interact with each other when considering that there are so many genes that control skin tone and eye color. “The physical traits you can see in a person are just a very small sliver of the genetic diversity across human populations,” said Dr. Bryce Mendelsohn, a medical geneticist at the University of California, San Francisco. “A lot of times we only focus on the things our eyes can see, but what we see is a tiny tip of the iceberg of the actual genetic diversity in everyone.”
Khristi Cunningham of Ohio knows what it's like to raise twins with different skin tones. Cunningham is the mother to fraternal twins, one having a lighter complexion and the other a darker complexion. Her husband is Black and she's White. On hearing about Whitney's babies, her first thought was, “Get ready for a lot of conversations with strangers!" She was happy to share the story of her kids with the media because she said it was imperative to talk about race in the country. "We did feel that we were obligated to share our story with others. We felt we were given these two beautiful children for a positive purpose — that purpose was to educate those who are ignorant to the fact that these things are possible, and to initiate a conversation on race in America," she told TODAY. Cunningham said being of a particular color is no accomplishment. "No one on this Earth gets to stand in line to pick their skin color. It is only by chance we are brown, or black, or white," she said.