Tag Archive: mixed race


WendyandXylon

[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’.]

Marriage and Melanin

“You are the most beautiful girl I have ever seen.

We will make it through this.”

The words were written in irregular handwriting outside the lines that sought to contain them. They were written in red, scrawled like the love in his heart, across a page torn haphazardly from a notebook. They were courting words, wooing words – words meant for me, words meant for a heart that cracked a bit more every time it beat, and pounded anytime he was near. They were words written for a heart coming face-to-face with the way people often view inter-racial relationships.

We met in December 2007, when the South African sun was being chased away by a thunderstorm. We met at my work. I was a TV producer and he was a guest on the show. Xylon was early. He was also funny, entertaining and easy to talk to.

A few months later Xylon took me for lunch but neither of us ate. We talked about friends and the cold drinks and the way our bosses spoke. Then he took a deep breath, and said I shouldn’t laugh, because he’d never done this before. Then he told me that he liked me, and asked if I liked him, and I said I did.

I’d love to say that we then went on to live happily ever after but we didn’t. I took Xylon home to meet my parents and they told me they didn’t approve. They didn’t like him because he is coloured and I am white.

It’s been 8 years since I found the note saying we would make it. We’ve been married for four of those. It wasn’t an easy path to marriage for us. Both of us had to step back and give my parents the time and space to accept our relationship (you can read that part of the story on my blog here). In that time, we learnt to talk about real issues rather than just surface issues, we learnt how keeping our hearts from each other can destroy a relationship, regardless of the tones of melanin involved.

When I first started dating I cared about the race thing a lot. I worried about how people would look at me differently if they saw me dating someone of different colour. I’ve found that the more time passes the less I think about it. The more Xylon is just a person to me, the less the colour of his skin suit matters to me.

From time-to-time we talk about adopting across colour lines and I am always surprised, considering my parents were the ones that opposed us, how resistant his family are to us bringing home a black baby. I’m reminded of my parents and of the grace they needed to see that love is not a colour and character isn’t a shade of skin.

I’m not colour blind. I notice the skin colour of others. I love the way when I hold my husband’s hand pale ivory skin sits harsh against his dark caramel skin. I pity any photographer who tries to light balance a photo with us in it.

I don’t love the way other people sometimes stare, point or comment. But I try to remember that I sometimes stare at inter-racial couples out of curiosity, and unless I’m with Xylon they would probably think I’m judging them. As my husband would say, “everyone has a story”, and until we hear it we won’t know his or her heart.

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

[Wendy van Eyck writes at ilovedevotionals.com for anyone who has ever held a loved one’s hand through illness, or believed in God despite hard circumstances or ever left on a spontaneous 2-week holiday through a foreign land with just a passport and a backpack.]

caleydaniels2What a shock some of you reading this will get when you discover that my dad, yes, my biological father, is coloured.

“But you look so white!” many have noted. Well done. It is true – I am a mixed baby, although I got the paler skin of our mother while my brother has many a time been compared to a Mexican. We’ve heard some interesting guesses of our ethnicity over the years: Portuguese, Brazilian, something Mediterranean. So let’s clear it up: what/who am I?

Being born into a democratic country, racial discrimination is something I have heard more about than experienced personally, although there are one or two incidences that have stuck in my memory. I distinctly remember being stared at in a restaurant while travelling through some backward town on our way to the Cape, no doubt due to the shades of our faces. I recall being disturbed by this as a 5 year old and asking why everyone was looking at us. My dad winked at me and said it was because they had never seen such beautiful people in their lives. It’s only now, nearly 20 years later, that I realize how blessed I am to have so tame an experience as my only one of racial discrimination.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a small town and attend an international school, so the first time I realized that my parents are of 2 different races was in grade 3 when a fellow 9 year old curiously asked me, “Caley, why is your dad coloured?” The heads of the other girls we were sitting with snapped around to look at me, as if they would now be able to see a distinctive difference in my features now that they knew I was not white. The defensive response “He isn’t,” flew out of my mouth for no other reason than to make them stop staring. But it made me think, ‘Why is my dad coloured?’

I didn’t talk to my parents until a few years later when someone told me that people who don’t “stick with their own kind” create “half-breed children who aren’t accepted by society”, as if anyone who was not of one race was something less that human. This was probably the harshest word spoken against me, or at least the one I took the hardest because it came from the mouth of a friend, and it was enough to make me talk to my parents about it. I think another reason it hurt so much was because I was brought up post-apartheid so, naturally finding no fault in cross-cultural friendships, I was shocked to find that people could still be pretty ignorant about that stuff.

The common factor in these 2 incidences is that they both made me feel ugly, and as if there was something wrong with me because I was different in some way to the rest of my peers. I don’t know if other mixed kids would agree, but I think of it now as an attack on my identity and something that almost made me ashamed of the heritage my parents had suffered to let us have.

I believed this more and more firmly as I went through high school, and I began to look back at that moment on the playground with contempt; why would people point out the coloured side of my family, asking why my dad is coloured as opposed to asking why my mom is white? As if “white” was the “correct” race to be and everything else was questionable. It made me extremely protective of my dad to the point of referring to myself as coloured when people asked me. But that’s wrong too; I cannot deny one race group because I am truly both of them: my father’s coiled-haired, dark-featured daughter, my mother’s pale eyed child.

This sense of uncertainty I had about what race I am has hardly bothered me too deeply because it has never been an issue in my family. Our parents brought my brother and me up as Christians, so we know that our true identity is in Christ and not in the box marked “other” on official documents. We weren’t raised in a “white” or “coloured” culture, but instead in one that honours Jesus. Although I moved away from that in my early teenage years (hence the shame and the offense and the extreme pride), I find now, being in a relationship with Him and walking with Him constantly, that my love for God has made me love who He has made me.

To answer the initially posed question; I am…  living, following the example of my legendary parents, by the belief that we are all of one race: Human, and every diversity we have thereafter is something to be celebrated. I am also everything that God says I am: loved and precious and redeemed by the blood of Jesus and forgiven and covered by His grace.

I am also part of a family that can aptly be referred to as the multi-culti-crew. What heroes.

Caleydaniels

[For some stories of couples who are involved in mixed race or culture relationships, click here]

[For more stories and conversations about race from a number of different perspectives, click here]

bethandbethguy

Hi brett. I saw you put up a request for inter- racial relationship stories: here’s a bit of mine:

in 150 days i’m marrying my best friend and the love of my life. He is coloured and i’m white and we are the best for each other.

When I look at him I don’t see my culture or his – I see two people working out life with a different approach and mentality… this goes beyond our cultures and the bounderies it sets us in. We met here at a christian art school and couldn’t be more different in personality. He is waffle and i’m spaghetti… our first year of friendship was filled with misunderstandings, fights and frustrasions which we think back on and laugh at now. I couldn’t understand why he was so rigid and he couldn’t understand why I was so scatterbrained. I look back now and see we couldn’t be more right for each other.

It’s actually quite funny when you go to his house everything is quiet…. when at my house it’s the complete opposite. Many people would have thought it was the other way round. You see, culture has a big part to play in the way you grow up and many times shapes your view on life… but i’ve learned there is ultimately one culture that should shape me and that is kingdom culture where we understand who we are in Christ which supersedes the limitations of this world.

Many people ask me how my mom feels about it, and she couldn’t be more delighted. She loves him as her son and i believe it’s got alot to do with what she imparted to me that I can love beyond borders, colour or culture… I believe from when i was young that I knew in my heart I was born for nations and was going to marry cross culturally. It has not always been easy but like every couple we worked through the same relational stuff. I do believe some people find cultural differences bigger than others, but in my case it wasn’t difficult. With his family i feel so at home and part of his family…

Some funny moments: When I was speaking to an afrikaans girl and replied, “rerig” and before I knew it I said it like a coloured “rerig”. It was so funny, needless to say, I quickly corrected myself but was hosing myself on the inside.

He loves fast cars and hip hop and loves his sound booming from his speakers, he has an impecable taste in fashion , and loves to dance – these are things he grew up with and i would never want to change. We have been best friends for 5 years and now we’re getting married! I feel like the most blessed woman alive.

About 5 years ago he had this gold chain. He used to wear it over his ties. The one day I saw him wearing it and I teased him about it.. . Last year I asked him so what happened to that chain and he told me how this girl went up to him the one day and teased him about it so he stopped wearing it… of course I had forgotten about what happened but as he told me his story I realised that that girl was me…

 i have not noticed any moments of being judged or stared at… when i’m walking with my friends they’ve said that people stare – mostly because it challenges them on their boundaries and they are unfamiliar… but i honestly can say i’m blind to it when it happens…

[To read more stories on the topics of mixed race and culture connections, click here]

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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