Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Want to hear some horror stories about being in a mixed race relationship?
I came up with these examples as I began to write a response to a blog article about the trials and tribulations of mixed race dating. And you know what? After fourteen years of marriage that was the best I could do. Maybe I'm forgetting some, maybe old age (and fourteen years of marriage) is starting to affect my faculties. Maybe stuff goes on that I don't see, but I really couldn't come up with anything else.
There are so many reasons why your family and others might take issue with your prospective partner. People will sum up your partner and make whatever assumptions they want based on their own personal biases. I confess that I may have had a thrillseeker moment when friends back in Australia first asked what Nyani was like and I replied: "Well he's unemployed, has a shaved head, tattoos, lip ring and he's black." I could just as easily have said "He's intelligent, well travelled, his Dad works for the UN and he's in the process of getting his commercial pilot's licence." Either way he's still the same person, but there's always room for judgement.
It's funny, I've reached this point in the blog and I feel like I should be putting in a few disclaimers - to be honest I've written and deleted several paragraphs that sound like the sort of thing I would have written back in my foreign service or consultant days: studies show...some people say that...of course in certain cases...however...But I've decided to leave all that stuff out. I'm going to stick with my experience, because ultimately I can't speak for anyone else. If you're living in a country where people are murdered for such a choice then yes, you definitely need to think twice, but after fourteen years of mixed race marriage living in countries that aren't like that, what do I think?
I think that both partners being the same race doesn't guarantee that you'll have a happy, blissful marriage, nor does both being heterosexual or both gay, or the same socio-economic class, or religion, or intellect. I think that all marriages take work and worrying about what other people do or don't think will drive you crazy.
What's more, worrying that people have issues with skin colour can cause you to forget all the times when people thought it was totally cool - like all of the kids T used to go to school with in Australia who thought Nyani was great (admittedly that may also have had something to do with the fact that he used to turn up to school events on his Harley Davidson clad from top to toe in leather...) One of my favourite stories is about one of T's classmates who when asked how his first day of school was, couldn't come up with anything other than 'TEYA'S DAD SHAVED HIS DREADLOCKS OFF!!!!'
If you love the person you do what you need to do to make it work.
Photo credit: Danilo Rizzuti