I’ve always considered myself very opened minded. I have a diverse life: friends of different cultures, races and backgrounds; I travel and love to get immersed in the local color. I pride myself on the respect I have toward others.
So when someone asked me would I marry outside of my race I was taken aback at the thoughts that came into my head: Would I be able to tolerate people’s stares, glares and otherwise negative behavior? What if I have children? How would I react if someone mistreated my babies? If his family did not like me (or my family did not like him) how would I cope? And finally, I thought, life is hard enough without having to put up with other people’s bigotry and ignorance. Not that all mixed couples today have a lot of trouble with these issues – some reportedly don’t. But let’s be real, some do.
Interesting. This subject made me look deeper. I found fascinating facts to be sure. Firstly, interracial and interethnic marriages are on the rise according to an USA Today article dated May 26, 2012 entitled “Census Shows Big Jump in Interracial Couples.” The data is from the 2010 Census which states that “one in 10 (5.4 million couples) are interracial, a 28% jump since 2000.”
So most would agree we’ve come a long way from the era of miscegenation laws that provoked the 1967 Supreme Court case of Loving v. Virginia where a white man won the right to continue to be married to his black wife. On the other hand, we have a long way to go; there are still race-related crimes being committed and not too many months ago a judge refused to marry an interracial couple. But when racial prejudice is not a factor, we have to be honest – maybe it’s just who we are naturally attracted to, who we grew up around, who happened to have qualities we’re looking for (whether it’s education, wealth or personality traits). If the person we are attracted to for these kinds of reasons is the same color as us then it can’t really be characterized as prejudice.
Prejudice, as we all know, is all about attitude, not preference alone. For example, I would not marry outside of my race because my race is better than…is a clear-cut case of racial prejudice. But how about someone who says, I would not marry outside of my race because I need someone to whom I feel I have a cultural connection to since that factor is very important to my happiness? Now that’s a different story.
I interviewed a friend that married a man of the same race but of a different culture. She graciously had this to say:
Q: Are you normally an open-minded person?
A: I consider myself open-minded. I have been like that for a long time.
Q: But when the idea of dating outside of your culture came to you, did you have any hesitations? Why or why not?
A: Yes [I had hesitations], because I had not ever given much thought to dating a man from the other end of the world – not being able to see him face-to-face on a daily basis. I always thought that it would be easier to date someone from my own country.
Q: What do you two do to try to make one another feel at home or comfortable?
A: We try to yield to each other’s customs, listen and respect each other’s feelings and not have our way all the time. This has helped us to feel comfortable around each other.
So that leads me back to my original issue – would I marry outside of my ethnicity or race? I really can’t answer a straight yes or no. I mean, I genuinely know that people can’t help who they fall in love with. But I know what I prefer – someone who has the same background as me for the same reasons I mentioned at the outset. But now, what if I fell in love with one of my beautiful friends of another color? Would I shrink back because of what other people might do? People, I ain’t no fool! I would embrace it with all of my heart and prepare myself for whatever challenges I might face.