The Real Silent Twins
Potential geniuses impacted by systemic racism.
Who are the Silent Twins you ask?
Some have heard the story and most have not. In recent media (podcasts, articles, YouTube) they have been portrayed as real life horror twins that were creepy and potentially dangerous. Their images have been used in exploitive ways and there are even alleged negotiations about their story becoming a major Hollywood feature.
What is it we need to understand more about June and Jennifer Gibbons born on April 11th, 1963 to parents Aubrey and Gloria Gibbons in Barbados. Shortly after the family immigrated to the country of Wales in the United Kingdom.
Growing up June and Jennifer were inseparable.
Being the only black children in their neighborhood they spoke only to each other along with their younger sister Rose. During their time in school they suffered from obvious bullying for not only being black but also for speaking different. It has been documented that the twins developed cryptophasia which is a language specifically within twins where only the two understand one another.
Although there may be some truth to that due to the circumstances but what most fail to realize was that the twins spoke in their cultural native tongue of bajan-creole blended with the queen's english. Add the fact that they spoke in a hyper tone that was fast paced so no one understood them.
That's a whole lot of seasoning.
Not to mention that both twins had speech impediments.
This caused them to communicate in non-verbal ways and brought them closer to each other. So close they became extremely isolated towards other children and would not speak to anyone else that psychiatrists sent them away to separate boarding schools in an attempt to break their isolation because they were unsuccessful in getting them to communicate with others.
Lets dissect this for a moment.
There's no way to speak on June and Jennifer's story without discussing the systemic impact of racism. Especially during these times of the 1960s-1980s. You have to ask yourself would young white female twins face this similar treatment?
There hasn't been a history of violence nor strange behavior patterns from the twins that would indicate any red flags. There were no reports of abuse from within the home that anyone is aware of as their mother was a housewife and father a member of the Royal Air Force.
Even at young ages, the girls tested for above average intelligence. They suffered from bullying and racism so bad they had to be released from school early on a daily basis.
Some would even make the claim that the twins should have been treated as prodigies who maybe could've extended innovation and not treated as outcasts.
When they reunited from boarding school they isolated themselves in their bedroom and began creating plays and recording them soap opera style. Storytelling became an outlet for expressing themselves so much they started writing novels and self-publishing them on their own, going into the late 70's/early 80's.
Apparently most of their writings were good literature but never got any recognition from major publishers due to their content being "too disturbing".
Interesting being that white writers, mostly males get rewarded with accolades and riches everyday for similar types of writing.
Due to the frustration of being slowly casted out, not being able to make their parents proud in any type of way along with the constant rejections of their writings, they resorted to a life of petty crime which resulted in theft, burglary and arson.
They were eventually sentenced to 12 years to Broadmoor Hospital in England which is a high security psychiatric hospital. The average non-black delinquent would get only about 2 years probation during those times. June and Jennifer never had any run ins with law enforcement up until they were older. No prior records or anything. Even these times were considered minor.
Again, if they were not black would this have happened?
Would their sentence be so severe?
Would there have been a bit more understanding?
One could only imagine what type of ptsd was created for young black women who committed small crimes being locked in with murders and criminals suffering from extreme mental health disorders.
The most acknowledgement they received during their time in Broadmoor was from an investigative journalist named Marjorie Wallace who served as a social services correspondent for the UK Sunday Times. The one responsible for publishing the book about them in 1986.
As they gotten older the June and Jennifer became hungry for individuality. They felt they may have been better living separately as individuals and not as twins as they developed a codependence on each other.
They each had their own diary they would write in. They had an agreement that if one died the other would speak and live a normal life and thought this was necessary.
Jennifer was the one who believed she needed to sacrifice herself.
Jennifer was younger by ten minutes. She felt June was the prettier one and convinced herself June was better than her. Jennifer also developed a heart inflammation condition from a high dosage of antipsychotic medicine called tardive dyskinesia. She died shortly after their transfer to Caswell Clinic in England which was more open and low security. Her death remains a mystery to most a there was no evidence of drugs or poison in her system.
By 2008, June began living quietly and independent without supervision near her parents in West Wales. Her sister Greta wanted to file a lawsuit against Broadmoor Hospital, blaming them for Jennifer's death but their parents Aubrey and Gloria stated "it would not bring Jennifer back".
The main thing that must be considered about June and Jennifer is what they could have been with the proper treatment they deserved. They weren't inherently violent or creepy, just misunderstood. They weren't mental, just needed special attention.