Monday, August 8, 2011

Interracial Couples

I grew up in an area where interracial relationships were not the norm. To be honest, this could be in part because the area was predominantly white. And it's most likely due to other reasons as well. For many people the 'rule' is 'Thou shalt not date outside thy race'. But it's not limited to a small Virginia town. Interracial couples from all over the world often face scrutiny, discrimination, hatred, and more. My question is, why?

I've heard many people say that they will not date anyone who isn't the same race. Some say it's because they just aren't attracted to people of a different race. Ok, I can understand that, even if I think you shouldn't say 'never' just because it hasn't happened *yet*. They might walk down the street tomorrow and fall head over heels for a person of a different race. Anyhow, I'm getting off track. There are also people who believe that dating someone of another race is "wrong" or "disgusting". I do not understand that.

Say you have a daughter and there are two potential suitors for your daughter. One suitor is just wonderful. He treats her well, he's nice, polite, loving and respectful. He's just an all around great guy and she loves him. But he's a different race. Then you have suitor number two. Suitor #2 is not a nice guy. He's mean, petty and abusive and your daughter is afraid of him. But he's the same race as you. Which would you rather your daughter be with? Wouldn't it be wrong and disgusting for your daughter to be with someone who is cruel and abusive?

Beyond the fact that it's ridiculous to judge someone based on their skin color, there's also a little phrase called "None of your business". That's right, it's none of your business who other people choose to date. If dating outside your race isn't for you, that's fine, don't do it. But you do not have the right to tell everyone else they can't. You do not get to choose for me. I do.

As I've mentioned before, I happen to be in an interracial marriage. We've gotten it all. We've gotten dirty looks, nasty comments, whatever. What I found to be very effective against those dirty looks is to give them my very best "May I help you?/What the @#$% are you staring at?" look right back. Nasty comments can be a bit trickier, depending on the context. Sometimes it's best to ignore them. But for that rude lady 5 feet away who keeps 'whispering' to her husband and the entire world about how gross it is, there's a strategy that might not be the most mature, but it's very satisfying. Kiss/hug/lock hands with your date/spouse/significant other. Then smile at her. I promise, the look on her face will be priceless and she will usually shut up. Like I said, it's probably not the most mature way of handling things, but it's fun. Anyone in an interracial relationship knows that the looks and comments can get old and annoying and it's hard to ignore it all the time.

However, sometimes the situation is more serious and can be threatening. A few months ago my family and I went out to lunch. As we were eating a group of men arrived, but not just any men. White supremacists. Yes, they still exist, and yes these men proudly displayed their feelings on their clothing and jackets. The majority of the group simply ignored us. But there was one man who had the coldest eyes I have ever seen and they were full of pure hatred. Throughout the meal he glared at not just my husband and I but at our children. That's the first time I have ever been truly frightened of someone who doesn't approve. To glare hatefully at two adults is one thing but to stare at young, innocent children and infants as if you want to murder them is quite another. It's disturbing on so many levels. Needless to say we left as quickly as possible and I didn't breathe easy until we were miles away.

I just don't understand that kind of unfounded hatred and I don't think I ever will.

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