Not half sister, full sister


Trianna Downing, Managing Editor

When telemarketers call and ask for Timaria Downing, I instantly correct them.

“It’s not Timaria Downing,” I say. “It’s Timaria Hammond-Downing. She has two last names. She’s my half-sister.”

I’ve never understood why I am so quick to correct them; it’s not as if it’s some big secret or something they should concern themselves with. It’s simple really – Timaria and I share the same mom but have different dads. Therefore we’re half-sisters because we share one of two parents.

Maybe it’s because people do treat our relationship as if it is some big secret or an issue they need to concern themselves with when really, it shouldn’t be. The relationship between my sister and I is what a healthy relationship between sisters is supposed to be.

I’ve tried to get this point across to the people I associate myself with. However, some of the people I surround myself with have a hard time understanding this concept.

When Timaria graduated from high school in 2010, my family – which consists of our mom, my sister Morgan, myself, and my dad – and Timaria’s family – consisting of her father, her step-sister and half-brother – and her father’s girlfriend attended the ceremony.

I was young at the time, but I wasn’t stupid. I heard the whispers from the other families.

“Which one is her dad?”

“Are the twins her step-sisters, half-sisters, or sisters?”

“How many kids does her dad have?”

It was that day I realized people did not see the relationship that I had with Timaria, but rather the relation we had to each other.

From that day on, similar circumstances occurred where I found myself explaining my relation to Timaria. For example, when I show pictures of the three of us to friends, Timaria’s dad has a lighter complexion, while my dad has a darker skin tone, resulting in our differing skin tones.

This is what people continually feel the need to point out.

But if it’s not the questions of whose dad is who, or the reason for our skin tone difference, it’s people trying to pry into our business about our family situation.

“Is her dad not around?”

“Does Timaria and your dad hate each other?”

“Do you and Timaria get along?”

The first question is not only annoying; it’s rude. There has always been the stereotype that African-American fathers are deadbeats and neglect their children. The truth is that this claim is just a myth.

According to a report by the National Center for Health Statistics in 2014, black fathers spend equal if not more time with their children as opposed to white and Latino fathers, whether living with or without their children. While 16 percent of black fathers who do not live with their children under five years old played with their children daily, only 10 percent of white fathers did.

But whether Timaria’s father is or is not around is not anyone’s business. Their relationship and situation is between Timaria, her father, and my mother. I don’t even know what their system is, but it’s not my responsibility to know anyway.

As for Timaria hating my dad or vice versa, well that is also a bogus question.

When Timaria was five years old, my parents got married to each other. Timaria knew the difference between her real father and her step-father, but to make it clearer, she called her dad Daddy, and my dad, her new stepfather, Daddy Gerald.

And from what she has told me and the exchanges I’ve seen between them, Timaria loves Daddy Gerald. He went to all of her track meets, her orchestra concerts, and dance recitals. He took her on her college tours and even helped her find the college she would be attending, Roanoke College. She has always introduced him as her dad in front of all her friends.

Therefore, the answer is no. Timaria and dad love each other very much.

Having an older sister has been such a blessing in my life. Not only do I have someone older looking out for me and filling me in on the secrets of living a successful life, but I have someone who I can talk to when talking to Morgan gets boring. I have someone’s apartment I can crash at when the house is too cramped, and I have someone who keeps me in line when it looks like I might get into trouble.

My name is Trianna Downing. Hers is Timaria Hammond-Downing. Though what separates us from being sisters is a father, our love for each other does not.