James & Sherrell

American-African meets African-American.


We met at university; both of us were on student leadership for our respective halls. Sherrell’s from Durham, NC. James is from Cape Town, South Africa (Well, mostly). Naturally, there are a lot of cultural differences we’ve discovered along the way. For starters, we have different likes and dislikes, some of them diametrically opposite each other, ranging from the superficial, like our tastes in music and to how we like to spend our free time, to the more complex, like our outlook on life and how we grew up.


We’ve had our conflicts over these last two years of dating, but what couple doesn’t. The source of these conflicts, however, hasn’t been race, but things in our lives that we’ve needed to work on, things we needed to mature in. Our church has played a large role in that: supporting and mentoring us separately and together, providing us with examples of successful multi-racial couples, and giving us a place to worship with people of other ethnic groups.


That’s not to say we don’t have outside problems relating to each other’s backgrounds. Only recently, have we begun to meet each other’s extended families. They’re all from the American South, so there’s good deal of  apprehension based on history. Between each other, however, we’ve chosen to look beyond our races. That doesn’t mean we ignore where each other comes from – to do so would be an offense on our identities. Instead, we see our differences and choose to work from there. We choose to see what makes each other unique and celebrate it. Sometimes, it’s pretty goofy.  At other times, it’s a wonderful time of growth and learning.


Most importantly, though, is our commitment to God. It truly is the love of God that allows us to love each other as boy- and girlfriend and, hopefully, as husband and wife. This should be the linchpin of any relationship, whether you’re multi-ethnic, all-white, all-asian, or all-black. To accept each other’s cultural differences, skin tone, and perspectives, put God first, each other second, and yourself last.


[For other stories of Mixed Race and Culture Connections, click here]