Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Interviewed by a Student in Minnesota...=)

Last year I was interviewed by a student from Australia about interracial marriage. This year I was contacted by a student in Minnesota. She is a high school senior, writing a trend paper on the increase of interracial marriages in the U.S. I'm so honored to be a part of her senior paper. 

Following is the interview:

From your personal experience, do you think interracial marriage is a representation of race relations in the U.S.? If so, are these relationships positive or negative?

That is a very good question. I’ve never been asked that specific question before. From my personal experience, I would have to say, no. We have such a long way to go when it comes to race relations and I think interracial marriage is more representative of opening minds in all areas. If people accept each other when it comes to race, religion, education, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, etc.; then ignorance, racism, hate, and homophobia will become a thing of the past. It really encompasses being open about everything. My marriage is an example of that. Yes, we are a black and white couple, but really, we are just a couple like everyone else.
It doesn’t matter what the mix is, it just matters that love and happiness are involved. I don’t see anything negative about two people in love. The more love we have in the world, the more positive things will be, for everyone.

According to the Pew Research Center, interracial marriages have a higher divorce rate compared to same-race marriages. What are your opinions of this, and why do you think this is the case?

I’m sad to hear this is the case, but do understand. There are so many other factors that go into interracial marriages besides just the day to day, year to year “issues” that same race couples go through. In interracial marriages there are: cultural differences, non-acceptance by family, friends, and society; religious differences, etc. If a couple does not have the foundation and strength to get through the tough times, let alone deal with the issues that I listed previously, this can make for an extremely difficult road. 

However, even though my husband and I have dealt with every obstacle imaginable, we were determined to not only make it through, but to come out stronger on the other side. It takes commitment, communication, partnership, work, and of course…love. Because we had more obstacles to deal with as an interracial couple, the daily life obstacles are that much easier to handle. It becomes a “win/win” eventually, and is so worth it in the end.

In your blog, The Many Shades of Love, you were interviewed by an Australian student that asked you about your daughter. Overall, how do you think having parents of two races has affected her, or, how is her upbringing different from a child born of a same-race couple?

We raised our daughter to embrace both sides completely, from being close to all of her relatives, to learning and living both cultures. When someone asks, “What are you?” She responds with, “I’m human.” I can’t think of a better answer.

She grew up in a diverse area and has always had friends of all races. She hasn’t had many negative experiences but the few she had were heartbreaking for us as parents. She received a piece of hate mail because of her mixed race and she has been called the “n” word. Because of how strong she is, instead of being hurt or horrified, she was sad for the person spewing the hate.

From the time she was a baby until now, we have dealt with all sorts of things when it comes to the race issue with her and me. She and her dad never got questioned, but I always did. People would say to her, “Oh, your mom is white?!,” when I picked her up at school. Or, people assumed I was the babysitter, or that she was adopted, and my response was, “I was in labor with her for over 20 hours, I’m soooo her mom!” It’s a fascinating thing to have to prove you are someone’s mother. When our daughter was entering kindergarten I had to choose one race on the form for her. I chose both black and white because she IS both. I got a call from the district and was told the form only allowed one. I told them if I chose only one then I was denying one of us. They apologized profusely and told me they had no choice because that is how the form was set up. I ended up choosing black and told them they needed to change their process. Fortunately, all these years later, we can choose multiple options on the forms when it comes to race. Progress.

Interesting enough, if you asked our daughter if she had any issues, she would tell you that having mixed race hair was difficult. It is very hard to manage and she always felt like she didn’t fit in when it came to that aspect. She wore extensions, straightened her hair, etc., no matter how often we told her hair was beautiful. Now, at 20 years old, she is all natural and embraces it fully. Something that seems small and superficial was difficult for her as a teen.

Are there any aspects of interracial marriage that you think would be beneficial to include in this paper, such as personal experiences, anecdotes, or obscure attributes of this topic that are not well-known by the general public?

Opening our hearts and minds to other cultures -- not only their traditions -- but to who they are as people, can create possibilities beyond what we ever imagined. When we look past the differences in skin color and concentrate on the similarities inside, that’s when we see; our skin might not be alike, but our hearts are exactly the same.

I would leave everyone with the following thought:

Cross those social lines. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you find on the other sideCrossing social lines opens minds!

There is nothing that makes me happier than helping students and opening minds. Thank you for writing your paper on such an important topic. Until we all accept each other and look beyond our differences, we will continue to be divided. You are now a small part of creating change. I wish you happiness and dreams come true during your next "steps!"

All my best to you,