Tag Archive: mixed race relationships


gradidges

When Brett asked for some volunteers on this topic I sprung at the chance but it has taken me a while to get some words down as I wasn’t sure what to say or what aspect to focus on or what I really wanted people to get out of this post… To be honest I am still not 100% sure but I hope either way it will challenge you to think deeply about race, relationships and your own prejudice.

My name is Kathy and I am married to Philippe. I am white. Philippe is coloured. [Brett: While we realise that in Americaland, calling someone ‘coloured is highly offensive, in South Africa it is the descriptive name of one of the diverse groups that make up our beautiful country and so it is helpful to know that, especially if you are from Americaland]

We will be married 5 years in June. Our relationship was pretty whirlwind… we met, went on our first date 1 week later and within 3 months were already talking about getting married, got engaged after 6 months and married a year (almost to the day) after meeting.

When my Grandmother met Philippe for the first time she said to me “You do realise he isn’t white?” To be honest I had noticed! But mostly our friends and family were supportive. We got used to the stares by strangers (and there are stares) by giving them something to stare at (mostly long kisses!)

The differences in our upbringings were not too huge… We both come from families with 2 parents with similar values and beliefs and we both have siblings (Philippe a few more than me). We both attended university and actually met while both doing our Masters.

I, however could attend any school I wanted and was never given hassles about the colour of my skin. I, however could go to any beach I wanted and was never asked to leave because of the colour of my skin. My family could live wherever they wanted and not only in a “coloured” area.

I think back to my preconceived ideas about coloured people (with a bit of shame) and how I asked him if he was ever in a gang or was there gang violence in the area he grew up in?  Embarrassing really!?

Being in an inter- racial relationship has taught me on the one hand that it really is true – we are all the same. It has also taught me on the other hand- that we are not. We are not the same in how we handle situations, how we relate to people, how we think about situations such as politics or race. BUT I don’t think those things are due to differences in race. I think they are due to differences in upbringing, education, life experiences and family interactions.

And here is another BUT…

BUT In South Africa where privilege is very tied up in race because of our history, race does ultimately have an impact on your socioeconomic status, your education, your life experiences and even your family set up. And so does result in differences and sometimes divisions.

In our marriage, we love to joke about “it’s cos you are coloured” “it’s cos you are white” and we can because it is our safe space. But we also tread carefully around race when we are fighting/ arguing because an attack on race may be misinterpreted as an attack on the other person’s identity, culture and family. What we try keep in mind is that these differences are not necessarily race related but upbringing, family and personality differences…

Marriage is hard work and an inter-racial marriage is at the end of the day just a (more colourful) marriage. Coming into marriage I unconsciously felt my (and therefore my family, culture, races) way of doing things was the right way. I have to consciously remind myself that my way isn’t necessarily the right way.  And I don’t always get it right. But it feels like a good thing, a positive thing- to think outside my small box of past experience. And it is a great thing to navigate life and all these new experiences with the love of my life, even if he has more melanin than me!

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Kathy also wrote a piece about her son which i want to include here as well:

My name is Kathy and I am white (a particularly pale white!) and I am married to Philippe who is coloured. We have a son who is… (Pick an option)

a) coloured b) white c) white/ coloured d) who cares!

One of my most vivid rac(ial)(ist) moments with my son was when I took him to the local Dischem to have his immunisations. As I got there I turned my back to the queue to fill in the sign in sheet (so I didn’t lose my place in the queue).  While I had my back turned with my son staring over my shoulder at the people already waiting this old lady says to her son (in not her inside voice): Wasn’t that a white lady? How does she have that child?

Needless to say her son was VERY embarrassed and apologised profusely and explained his mother was a little senile… Out of the mouths of… senile old ladies???

I also get asked a lot “ What nationality is his dad?” I think this is people’s polite way of asking whether his dad is white/ black/ coloured/ indian.

I think our sons (racial) identity is one of the things that I think about a lot. In South Africa being coloured is a distinctive racial group. This is different from other countries where coloured is more a term used for people of a mixed race. In SA coloured people have a separate culture, language and identity. And although us white English SA’s often complain that we don’t have a definite identity or culture, we do.

In raising a child you realise that your identity is pretty tied up in your race and culture. And I am aware that knowing your identity and culture are important factors in feeling secure in who you are. Luckily as Christians we have a new identity and culture. And as a family we are trying to create our own traditions that merge our different cultures and identities and create a safe place. A safe place where he can grow up secure in the knowledge that although he doesn’t fit neatly into a census check box he is loved, he is our son, he is Gods son and he has a place in this world.

 

[For other stories on Mixed Race and Culture connections, click here]

[For other conversations on all different aspects of Race-related things, click here]

marciaflorian

Marcia’s Point of View

Initially when Florian and i started talking, the race factor did cross my mind but didn’t bother me at all. Florian is such an amazing guy, our personalities just clicked right away…

I think we get the best of both worlds and culture. Sometimes i even forget that we’re interracial. I don’t really think about it.

Do race and ethnicity matter when it comes to relationships? apparently, race is mattering less these days with the exception of about 20% of people who still seem to can’t get past the fact that different races can fall in love. I must admit, sometimes when we’re out at the mall or just out for dinner, i’d notice a few people staring, but that doesn’t faze me at all.   Florian is so cool, calm and collected about US, OUR RELATIONSHIP and OUR LOVE that just by seeing us through him gives me the assurance that this love was meant for me. In the beginning of our relationship, i was a bit nervous about telling him some things that probably would be difficult for him to grasp, like the fact that the hair on my head is a weave and that he should not, under any circumstances run his fingers through my hair !!!, Is not allowed to wet my hair and pull on it !! Lol… But later on in the relationship, we reached a level where i felt he was ready for the revelation… hahaha… Now i have my weaves lying around everywhere in the apartment.

Dating Florian allowed me to know about different cultures, particularly the German culture which involved food, religion and family structure. I have no worries about my family understanding our relationship because i come from a pretty much diverse family and being a product of an interracial relationship, my parents and family have embraced us most lovingly.

I can’t wait for the next chapter of our lives… Smiling face with heart-shaped eyesSmiling face with heart-shaped eyesSmiling face with heart-shaped eyesSparkling heartSparkling heartSparkling heartHeavy black heartHeavy black heartHeavy black heart️ With God’s blessing, we’re about to create MAGIC !!!

Florian’s point of view

I guess, my experience on being in an interracial relationship is somewhat different from Marcia’s. I come from a country without a history of apartheid or racial segregation, so, in general, it doesn’t really seem to me as a big deal. Growing up, I was always taught that despite our different looks, inside we’re all the same. I carried this strong believe throughout my life and so when it comes to how I treat people or who I date, race is never a factor. When I started dating Marcia, I did realize though that there are at least some differences. Until after 2 months into this relationship, I didn’t know what a “weave” was. She explained it to me and also told me that the lavish hair that many African American celebrities from Beyonce to Naomi Campbell wear is not really their own. This was quite a revelation! Even to this day, I’m sometimes startled when I open a drawer in the bathroom and find her scalp in it (of course, it her weave ). So, I had to realize that – for an African woman – taking care of your hair is quite a process. Skin care, on the other hand seems to be easier. Occasionally, I found myself envying her a little for her soft and flawless skin. I also don’t seem to be able to spot any change in color on her skin. One day when we came back from the beach, she asked me whether her skin is red. I looked at her and replied: “How do I tell?”

I do notice occasionally that she does have a different view on our interracial relationship. Often times we catch people on the street staring at us. She told me one day that she thinks the people stare at us because they have a problem seeing a black woman with a white man. I always thought the guys were just staring at HER because she looks so smashing. Maybe it’s a little of both…

Overall, I think, my experience of this relationship confirms what I learned as a child: Despite our differences in appearance and the fact that we come from completely different cultures, we have really a lot in common. I can only encourage people to not consider race as a factor in choosing someone to share your life with. If you disregard a large majority of people based on race or ethnicity, you might just miss out on the person you’re truly most compatible with. And I consider myself extremely lucky that my right match is this amazingly beautiful and wonderful woman that I am so in love with.

 

marciaflorianoneyear

 

wedding selfie

[Disclaimer: while in Americaland, the term “coloured” is a strongly negative term, in South Africa there is a unique group of people who have come from a heritage of different cultures but now have developed their own distinct culture. They are neither black nor white, nor are they mixed race, and they would call themselves ‘coloured’.]

 

We’re no different than any other couple.

Well, we are. Roxanne is from South Africa and colo(u)red and Greg is from America and white. The biggest differences we see between the two of us are our height and the fact that we spell words differently. So for this article, as we are writing it together, we will overcome inter-racial issues by spelling words both ways.

Recently, we were at a wedding where Roxanne introduced Greg to someone as her fiancé. This (white) man looked at her and then looks at him and the following conversation transpires:

Him: “Aren’t you colo(u)red?”

Rox: “Yes”

Him: “Don’t your parents mind?”

Rox: “Not at all”

Him: “Well, well done on you guys being progressive.”

Rox: “um… thanks?”

Thankfully, we don’t often have conversations like that but unfortunately there are still many people who think it is “progressive” for people to date cross-culturally.

We don’t.

One of Greg’s pet peeves is when someone says that Rox is “marrying up” as if the colo(u)r of his skin makes him a better person. He obviously feels that’s a load of horse manure.

Occasionally, we see someone do a double take in the mall, or someone asks an ignorant question, but actually, because we accept each other it doesn’t really matter whether strangers accept us or not.

We met, we fell in love. We have decided to get married. The fact that we are different colo(u)rs has not affected us in the least.  Actually, our oddness is so similar that it makes our cultural differences (which truthfully aren’t huge anyway) seem even less.  And our families love each of us individually and as a couple – why should race stop us from loving each other?

Yes, we have occasional disagreements but generally those are to do with us both being human beings more than the colo(u)rs of our skin.

While planning our wedding there have been a few cultural differences but those have been fun to discover. We will now have an American rehearsal dinner and a Colo(u)red catered reception – keeps everyone happy and celebrates both our heritages.

We love God. We love each other. And we love being able to celebrate being different with one another.

[To read the next story of mixed race and culture connections and meet Marcia Wells and Florian Adler, click here]

[For other conversations on all different aspects of Race-related things, click here]

biracial family selfie

mixed

As we have started talking about different aspects of Race on my blog, one area that quickly came to mind was that of mixed race/culture relationships.

Hard to believe that this was illegal when i was growing up. And that it was normal for it to be so.

And even when it wasn’t, it took a bit of a while for it to become more of a regular [less stared at] thing and so i imagine that even now [as the country is still in a place of transition with a long ways to go] for some people who are in relationships with people from different race/culture groups, there are some different stories to be told – with some elements that are fun, some painful and some just confusing or interestingful.

So i took the opportunity to ask some of my friends who are in mixed race or mixed culture relationships to share a little bit of their journey and this is what happened:

Meet Beth Lee Jooste and Ockerd Ojay Langeveldt [engaged]

Meet James T Davis and Sherrell Nesmith [dating] who wrote this one together

Meet Roxanne Rhoda and Gregory Jewell [engaged] who wrote this together

Meet Marcia Wells and Florian Adler – black and white and south african and german

Meet Wendy and Xylon Van Eyck- married 

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