Growing up my Grandmother made sure my Barbie was a beautiful shade of caramel brown, like me. Her “boyfriend” happened to be my crush from the Beverly Hills 90210, Dylan. As a child I never worried that they weren’t the “same” and I certainly had never heard the word “interracial” at that point. Love seemed a lot simpler then.
I say things were simpler then because while my dolls never encountered stares, or comments or cultural differences – their real live versions do. I know this because my partner and I -he being of German ancestry and I of African American ancestry – met on a very popular dating site. I grew up thinking that it was safe for me to love whoever I wanted, but from our first year dating we noticed disapproving glares and comments from strangers. It caused us to avoid certain places and even caused us to leave a few restaurants. This hurt my feelings at first, but I became comfortable with ignoring the side glares and comments— until I had my son.
I thought for sure that things would get better in our “post racial” America. Interracial relationships are growing according to Pew Polls. What about Kim and Kanye? Didn’t we just celebrate a bi-racial president? Sadly enough, we still receive the glares of disapproval from a multitude of judges.
I remind myself that interracial marriage was illegal and physically violent in my grand parents’ and parent’s lifetime. Our type of love didn’t become legal until 1967, and half a century later there is still scrutiny and disapproval when it comes to “dating out.” (I can only imagine the obstacles Gay and lesbian couples face.) My son isn’t old enough to notice the disapproving glares, but as a Momma Bear, I worry about his future.
If nothing changes in 2035 — I fear for the heartache he will face should he choose to love someone that society may deem as an inappropriate love interest for him. I worry even now that people will judge him because his parents are of different ancestry. Does dating outside of one’s race really matter so much? If so, why?
The truth is, we didn’t choose each other because of our races, but if we did would that be okay? It has been quoted of love by William Shakespeare, that “love is blind.” Our love, like many others, is far from perfect but love sees no faults, no wrongs, no imperfections in the one close to their heart. There’s a Mexican proverb that adds to this quote. “Love is blind, but not the neighbors”, makes it clear that although you see no wrong in your love, others may.
My partner and I had long discussions and made a conscious decision that as parents, we would not determine a race for our son. When we learned that assigning my race would automatically determine my son’s, we deferred. At one point the hospital staff ignored our wishes and insisted on listing my race as Black. It’s hard to believe that in 2016, we had to demand over-and-over that the hospital not list our races on his birth certificate.
How lovely it is to love and be loved in return, how cold it is to step outside and see disapproval on the faces of strangers about your choice of love. I’ve pondered with friends who are also dating “outside of their race,” why does our love interest concern or cause issues for strangers?
We are not exotic. Like it or not, our kind of love is on the rise since the 1980’s. While only 4.8% of marriages of Americans 35 and under were intermarriages in 1980, this increased to 13.4% in 2014.
We dream of a better world for our son, one where he grows up with the wide open opportunity of finding love like we did. How wonderful it is that love unites two individuals, not allowing the race factor to play a role. We are but one race in many colors, the human race. You might consider our family interracial, but we do not, so stop staring and let interracial love be.
Cassie Murphy is a new mother and after 6 years of working in customer service has decided that the world could benefit from a huge dose of kindness.