01 August 2008

Inter-racial Relationships

Does race matter to you? I ask that question as since I am temporarily in the US at the moment I have noticed just how polarised the various racial groups are. It would appear that people are frowned upon if they are in a relationship with someone of another race. 

I am interested in those people who have stepped outside of the norms of their community and decided to have a relationship with someone who is racially different (that has to be an oxymoron, doesn't it?) from themselves. Also there are those people who would rather die than have anything to do with anyone other than in their own racial grouping. You know those who would banish their sons and daughters if they even dreamt of 'involving yourself with those people'.

Now I am not American. I probably don't understand the dynamics and the history of racial division in this country. I probably will never understand it as my parents came from the Caribbean and then moved to England, so my perspective is different. But my personal view is that divisions are stupid and non-productive. It is important for us to recognise that in the whole scheme of things we are homo sapiens. Any categorisation into racial groups is meaningless.

Of course, there are those that have benefited from an unfair advantage created by their ancestors. Of course, life is unfair and will always be so, but does that mean we should cut off certain people who we perceive to be different from us? Does it mean we should be sheep-like and follow what our parents tell us to do because their parents did the same?

Young people are getting smart. They have access to information in seconds that would have taken weeks if not months to acquire. Internet technology, web-cams, multi-tasking mobile phones have revolutionised the way people communicate across the globe. That in itself should tell you that times they are a-changing. Things are different. Young people are more likely to have friends from other racial groups than say 40- 50 years ago. That helps to break down barriers. Yet, in the USA, you watch and notice how many people still live in polarised ghettos whether they be white, black or anything else.

So do you believe that you should only have relationships within your racial group to preserve 'our identity'?

I'm just sharing my opinions on what I see and would be glad if you could let me know what you think on this matter.


Anonymous said...

One question I have is if you say:

… my personal view is that divisions are stupid and non-productive. It is important for us to recognise that in the whole scheme of things we are homo sapiens. Any categorisation into racial groups is meaningless…

Why, then do you label your blog: BLACK WOMAN THINKS... - THE VIEWS OF A UK-BORN BLACK WOMAN?

Why not, “woman thinks” or even “human being thinks”?

Why do you feel the need to identify as a member of the black community?

Here in America there is a trend to identify oneself as an hyphenated American. African-American, Mexican-American etc. I think it is just another way to fragment the nation. Accent the differences instead of the similarities. I am human. I am woman. I am American. That’s enough. Maybe more than enough, we can stop at human as far as I’m concerned.

But it is human nature to identify, classify and group. It is a survival tactic. “They” are like me; therefore I will be safe with “them”. If you had to judge each person based on his or her individual views, morality, behavior, it would be too much work. (ha!) Information overload. Much easier to “profile”.

And so it goes…

But to answer your question:

I’ve never had a relationship with a man outside my ethnic group but I have no objections that would keep me from it. I do know that when my daughters started dating, my hopes for them were for a happy and yes, easy life. I hoped my children wouldn’t be gay – not because I am against gays, but because it is a hard thing to be gay in this day and age. (better than ever before in history, perhaps, but not easy) I hoped that they would date someone in a similar in socio-economic category and I hoped for the same race. Once again - because it’s easier. I mostly hoped they would be happy. I would support their choices.

Raising mixed race children is difficult and hard on the children. (This is what I’ve come to believe after many psychology and women’s study courses and after much discussion with people who’ve faced these issues.) But it can be done and perhaps it is the mixed race children of the world who will finally say, “Hey, we are human. What more do you want?”

Inspire said...

I agree with most of what anonymous said.

I am a woman. I am American. Can you guess my race? And, does it matter?

Not in my view. I think that perhaps American society is less fragmented than you might believe. Ten years ago, if someone had told me that we may have a black president in my lifetime, I would not have believed them. Now, of course, we are on the verge.

I also believe that the only way for the human race to survive is to become race blind.Race simply does not matter in regards to our survival, and the fragmentation that it causes is a threat to our survival.

on a personal level......

Whomever my son marries, or has a relationship with, I have only one criteria for acceptance......that they love each other.

Who cares what color their skin is?

Original GRITS said...

You always ask the hard questions, don't you?

I've told you before that I have a mixed race daughter so that fact alone would imply that I am all for mixing races, wouldn't it?

What if I went on to tell you that she is the product of a rape? Would that lead you to believe that I am opposed to mixed race relationships (and that I probably carry a bitterness against blacks)?

I am too open minded for that kind of thing to be true.

Well, she is the product of a rape by a black man but even with that, I am neither for or against mixed race relationships. I know, hard to believe, huh? My belief is not in color, race, sex, heritage or any of the other things that only serve to divide us as human beings but in love.

I believe in love, plain and simple, without discrimination.

My parents were children of their time and were conditioned to be racists...not overtly or in a mean way but just in their beliefs. They believed that the races should not mix and they were totally against gays, too. Hell, if one of us kids had brought a Jew home as a suitor they'd have shit. But that is because of their time and being raised in the South (they'd be in their late 80's if they were still alive, btw.)

Anyway, all of that to say that I just don't have the same prejudices that seem to be so prevalent, even in this day and age. My daughters have dated blacks and whites, gone through sexual experimentation with same sex relationships, and all I have told them through it all is just to be happy..don't settle. Date a black man or a woman, I don't care, but don't settle for some non-working, sorry, no good person in your life. Those are my prejudices...sorry humans.

I've rambled enough but I think you can see where I'm coming from...or, at least, I hope you can.


Anonymous said...

Just to clear the air here, the word ethnic -- the first definition means heathen. You may want to reconsider using that word when you refer to yourself, but it's your choice.

My Autism Insights said...

Ten years ago, I dated a man of a different race. Nine years ago, we got married. Seven years ago we had our first child and then five years ago, another. Most of the time it hasn't made a huge difference in our day to day lives. On occasion there have been misunderstandings because of cultural differences, not so much between us, but with extended family. But we knew there would be those days. It remains to be seen if race will be an issue for my kids as they move further into the social arena. as for whoever they bring home, I don't care so long as the person treats them well.

Anonymous said...

===So do you believe that you should only have relationships within your racial group to preserve 'our identity'?===

When i was a teen, i used to have that kind of idealistic, but, now, when i have more broaden understanding of love and fate about whom i be, whether he's black, white, or yellow... i don't care anymore...

ppl don't give a shit about my love life, neither do i, so why should i put a heavy pressure on this kind of problem, (well, i never see this as a problem actually) (^_^)

Trisna's last blog post..Better Tips to Get Rid Off Insomnia

isabella mori said...

i live in canada, was born and raised in germany, and am married to a japanese-canadian (yes, we hyphenate, too). most of his relatives are in a mixed race marriage.

our daughter went to a daycare that was like the united nations. we are lucky - vancouver is one of the most multicultural places in the world.

a few years ago, we vacationed in louisiana and texas. it was mind-boggling: white people here, black people there; gay people here, straight people there; poor people here, better-off people there. VERY segregated. needless to say, we didn't feel very comfortable with this.

currently i do quite a bit of work in a part of the city where i am a minority as a caucasian.

it's pointless to disregard one's cultural background and, yes, colour. it's also pointless to place too much emphasis on it. having immigrated twice, once to south america and once to canada, i learned that my background and history always come with me. the trick - and the joy! - is to integrate it into a tapestry of diversity, where colour and culture are but one of many unique characteristics that each one of us has.

foongpc said...

I don't believe in restricting relationship with our own racial group. Love cuts across racial lines. Btw, thanks for leaving comments on my blog - I enjoy reading different opinions from different people.

The pale observer said...

Great and thought provoking dialogue. I am a Canadian and can relate to what Isabella said above, with regard to being shocked at the segregation in America. I am white, was raised in suburbia by parents who did not have openly racist views, until my boyfriend was black. We married and had a child. They told me hundreds of times it would not work out. He was well educated and smart. He became a drug addict and I left him. They 'told me so'... however I do not believe his being black had anything to do with it. I moved to Ghana West Africa with my son 11 years ago and eventually met and married a Ghanaian man. Here I meet hundreds of people in mixed relationships - there is even a support group for non-Ghanaian spouses og Ghanaians!! The truth is that 90% of the relationships fail. A much higher failure rate than the global 48%. I believe it has much more to do with cultural difference - which are vast between Africa (Ghana in this case) and North America or the west in general. My relationship here broke down as well after 5 years. I am still in Ghana now, living as an expat. I believe that experience has taught me that we must be much less idealistic when choosing a life partner. Cultural affinity does play a part in our make up, and can be one more hurdle in what is already a difficult compromise - relationships. My son has been raised without question about his racial identity. He has always gone to International schools as an expat where race is irrelevant and everyone is mixed, speaks numerous languages etc etc. However as he is reaching puberty, these issues are surfacing for him. All of a sudden he is resenting his hair, which changed a few years ago from being wavy to afro texture. This is not spurred on by me or anything in our home. I am now at a loss for how to guide him on these issues and he does not ask... It does make me question alot about race relations and the world I've brought my son into!!!


Kelly said...

As an American, I am sad that this is what you noticed, but I can't say you are entirely off base.

of course, it is not the blanket belief system, but there are many that frown upon mixed race relationships.

For the most part, I think it is generational, but there are some young people taught to be racist.

I have not had a relationship with anyone of another race, but I have dated other races. I come from a family that frowns upon it. I'm white, and I've always been attracted to darker complected people, I have dated Latino and Black men. It never went beyond a couple of dates, but I think that had more to do with the behavior of those particular men than anything.

As I've gotten older, I have challenged my family so much that they have started to shift. They don't frown so much on the children of friends of mine that are biracial, they do feel bad for the challenges they might face though.

As for the divided community lines. For the most part, that is true. At least where I am from. There are some areas that are mixed and some that are starting to be, but for the most part, it is divided.

It is an "us" and "them" mentality. My neighborhood is starting to change. There are a few Black people in the area. It amuses me to hear my mom point it out when she sees someone walking down the street. She tries to seem like it's nothing, but I can tell by the tone that it makes her a little uneasy.

I can't really say why we are like this. There is a lot of history, which I am sure most are aware of to some degree, but it didn't involve me or most of the people around today, so it shouldn't affect our opinions of each other.

Will it ever change? Who knows. But I do agree, kids are smart and they are seeing things adults can't see. They make friends with other races and don't think twice. The parents might flintch...in fact, on one side of my sister is a Bosnian family with a little girl the same age as my niece. While the child is obnoxious and badly mannered, they let her play with their daughter all the time. There is a Black family on the other side with a little girl a year younger. They never invite her over, even when she is hanging on the fence trying to talk to them.

Make what you will out of that...I see it as racial...


Zee Harrison said...

Thank you so much to everyone who has responded here. I will respond in phases as there are so many comments - I will respond in the order they have been presented above - just a couple though today!

Please note there are 2 'Anonymous's' and so I respond to Anonymous 1 first:

You are are quite correct. Why on earth would I hate racial labels and yet call myself 'black' woman thinks? I mulled over this point before I started the blog and even discussed it with a fabulous intellectual who I have virtual conversations who I met via this blog. He gave me some lovely pointers to mull over to my lament that I might not bother with this blog anymore because 'black' is not solely who I am. It is such a miniscule part of my cultural heritage and that maybe I have pigeon-holed myself into a corner by focusing on 'black' and 'atheism'. His response to me was just what I needed to hear. Basically, how would people find me: Zee Harrison, a black woman who was a non-theist? What would you type into your search engine to find me?
The other questions are: how many 'black' people do you know who feel confident enough to state they do not believe in any form of the supernatural and actually blog about it? I stand forward as someone who is confident enough to air my views and hopefully at least one person may feel able to share their own deeply hidden disquiet about the damage religion has done to the hearts and minds of the people of this world. Equally, I also welcome those who feel I am wrong. I have chosen not to censor any comments (unless I have been asked not to publish)and so all views are welcome.
I am frank and open and some people, yes, even black people, may view me as a supporter of other races but I am actually a supporter of human beings. Full stop.
I agree with you that the labels are unnecessary or should be but unfortunately we are not at that place yet. Labels will be with us for some time and we must be aware of them as we use them and realise that they have a limited lifespan.

I must state that there were periods in history when to be gay was lauded as being a higher lifestyle - I may just write a post about that.

I wonder about Barack Obama. I have SERIOUS reservations about what him being elected into the White House will actually mean. I fear there will not be the so-called change that everyone is hoping for. There very rarely is.

It pleases me when I hear people stating they prefer their children to make their own decisions about their future partners.

A sign of a job well done, methinks!
Thanks again, both of you and I will comment on each comment left here as soon as I can.
Kindest regards,

Original GRITS said...

Zee...I love reading your blog and look forward to every post of yours with excitement, knowing you will make me think. I even wrote about you on my blog in my last post.

Thank you for always giving us feedback on our comments to your posts.

Keep up the great work...I love it!

EuroYank said...

Strangely enough, as an American now living in Europe, interracial dating and relationships are a "chic" status symbol in Europe, but in the USA it is NOT!
Europe has this IN THING with and it means you are cool if your partner is another race. In the USA it depends where you are. If you are white and date black in a black neighborhood you are cool. If you are white or black and mix in a white neighborhood you are more of a threat and shunned by the culture there!

MamaFlo said...

I'm a Irish-German woman married to a Mexican-American, we've been married more than 31 years. America is polarized but we're getting better, we just have a long way to go before we are as open as Europeans. I think that bi-racial children are the most beautiful children there are but they are also children that have a difficult time with their identity growing up and it's the narrow minded adults that make it so difficult because they are raising children to believe that race matters - yeah the human race matters and that's all.

Zee Harrison said...

This message was sent to me but due to some technical hitch did not arrive. I managed to receive a copy of the comment from the author and reprint it here.
Thank you, Ralph!

Fri, 01 Aug 2008 14:39:17 -0400

You already know where I stand on this subject, but here goes. By inter-racial relationships, you mean intimate relationships with the sex of your choice. But there was also once great danger in even associating with people just as friends. Once I was grown, and society had changed after the tempests of the '60s, it was no big deal, but twice in 1979 a couple lunatics made an attempt on my life.

It's much easier to do whatever you like in big cities than in small towns. Since cities are anonymous, it's usually a matter of how strangers will react to you on the street. How things work in families or the job may be different.

I know the gossip mill was running at my workplace a long time ago, but only one word of disapproval ever got back to me, and it was from someone I least expected. But whether this affected anything of importance is something I will never know.

Families are a whole different ball game. Again, with friendship, way back when, a friend of mine of Anglo-Saxon origin was once disowned by his family just for associating with Jews and Italians, let alone hooking up with black people, which also was to come. But with intimate relationships, the situation gets even worse. A friend of mine, of Hindu (Indian) background, was disowned by his rich family, coupled with violent harassment of him and his partner, once he took up with a wonderful young black American woman. I've known a lot of white racists to disown their children, but I've never seen anything like this.

A Jewish friend of mine, whose partner was a gorgeous black West Indian woman (he has a thing for black women as many Jewish men do--I don't know if this is known), could not convince his mother to overcome her prejudices. This woman was as nice and personally irresistible as you please, and would have loved nothing more than to become part of the family. In my experience, that's the way it usually is. These stupid prejudiced whites don't have a clue how much in common they have with the very black people they reject, who, ironically, are just like them in about every significant respect. I also find it inexcusable for minorities to treat one another the way they've been treated.

What about the reverse? Well, I once knew an Italian woman who married a black man in the early '60s, when that was a highly controversial--and in illegal in many states--thing to do, and she caught hell from her black female in-laws. I can't think of any other cases I know personally of the BLACK side of the family disowning their kids or snubbing their in-laws of another race.

There is something else to consider, esp. if you're concerned about unpleasant encounters in public. It's a question of who really cares, who really harbors an animosity and resentment that matters. As I see it, it's like this. If you're a black man with a white woman, you have to watch out for the white man and the black woman. No one else really cares. If you're a white man with a black woman, you're only going to get flak from a black man. No one else cares.

But as for what's happening in this country now, I can only speak from my daily observations. Washington has no white working class, which means, once you are off the job, if you are black you can only count on other black people to make your life a living hell. That means that in public places, only black people would harass you. Which means that a black woman might scowl when she sees a black man with a white woman. A black man might get uptight or start something if he sees a white man with a black woman.

Washington is a strange place, where the extremes of segregation and integration can be found simultaneously, not to mention the extremes of class differences. It's the center of world power superimposed on a Southern Jim Crow backwater and manifests all the contradictions of this scenario you can imagine.

There are a lot of interracial couples walking about. They are especially evident at cultural events, concerts, public music festivals. There's more than black and white, but I restrict myself to black and white because this contrast defines all the racial problems in the USA. Most of the couples I notice are black women with white men, and not just young people, even middle aged folks. Some are fairly plain, some are gorgeous (the women, that is, but then, it's hard to find an unattractive black woman in these parts).

Perhaps there is also an attitude change in the making, but again, haphazard observations are not statistically sound samples. I often see black women reacting favorably when they see a black woman with a white man, grinning from ear to ear, or sometimes intervening to compliment them. (I think black women are often just happy to see people--other black women especially--in love.) Lately, I've even seen black men smiling when they see a white man with a black woman.

This is not even to mention what you find with social groups organized through the Internet. Naturally, most Internet users for social purposes are younger people.

And yet Washington remains extremely socially segregated (outside of public venues where people are used to interacting) in spite of all this. Much of this is situational or habitual rather than maintained by ostracism and violence as it once was. I wonder how many people find this as perverse as I do.

I don't like exclusionary behavior. People in the same old rut are just boring.

Submitted by Ralph Dumain

Ralph Dumain said...

Just a few more notes.

(1) Obamamania is the most conspicuous case of political self-deception I've seen in my lifetime. The fact that so many people, including a large chunck of "progressives" and the "left" (whatever any of this means in today's America), have so willfully deceived themselves indicates that the American political system is at the end of its rope.

(2) One of the most ridiculous assertions is the claim to unify people. The American people have never been unified for one instant and never will. Furthermore, if you pay close attention to the subtext of what's being said when anyone makes claims about the "American people", even if a black person says it, the "American people" really refers to whites only. Obama's candidacy does not contradict my assertion; it confirms it.

(3) The person who objected to the expression of hyphenated Americans (Black, Italian, Jewish, etc.) is not being honest with him/herself. Being honest about really existing social contradictions does not make one a separatist. And liars who claim they are just Americans and nothing else betray what they are hiding with everything else that they say. Universality is earned through experience, not pretence.

ccch said...

I date whoever I want and that's especially more leaning towards my preference.
I grew up in Pennslyvania, the product of Caribbean parents. Moved to Europe with my caucasian husband and we're still here raising our biracial son as openly, with love as possible. My now ex after our divorce actively sought our black girls here, but fell in love with a wonderful blond woman who our son loves like a second mom. I'm still dating guys who especially have his colouring (blond/redheads)which I know implies I haven't gotten over him. I finally have, but I'm generally deeply attracted to a certain type of blond/redhead and am aware he (my first everything)has spoiled me for other types.
I'm saying all this to say that whenever I'm Stateside, I too am appalled at the self-segregation and kudos myself and my ex for deciding to stay in Europe, raising our son together, even though our marriage didn't work out!. It's not perfect here by any means, but no one raises a brow when I state my preference in men...

Inspire said...

Zee, I too have doubts about Obama. I supported Clinton primarily because I felt that she had a jumpstart, as opposed to Obama, who had no experience in international affairs, and very little in national affairs.

Then too, I lived in Washington DC, and I know that it is an insiders town. That could make it difficult for him.

Nevertheless, I am now supporting him. I hope he will rise to the occasion, and I believe that he is fully capable of doing so.

I firmly believe that McCain is just Bush in disguise, and I see him as a horrible choice for the future of this country.

The Fitness Diva said...

I've dated outside my race for years now, and it's not about the color of the person, but who I can relate to and feel easiest with. I tend to think and live outside the box in many different ways, and being with someone who doesn't judge, try to change or feel threatened by that is key for me.
I feel everyone else should do the same. Have relationships based on compatability, not race.

Ada said...

While American, my parents are African but they raised me to accept people and their differences, and I am married to my German born husband going on 10-years. Like stated already, some have a huge problem with this and feel it is there place to tell people what relationships to form, I could care less and encourage my children to free their minds.

Strappado said...

Colour doesn't mean anything to me. Culture is different, because it affect they way you behave. I'm Norwegian and I've had girlfriends from the other side of Europe and noticed that even this relatively short distance caused some misunderstandings(related to men/women issues), and realize that it would be more of them if I found someone in Africa or Asia, for instance. (I'd be more worried about the inlaws though)
And even if she grew up here, there wold be differences.

But I wouldn't care about that if I liked her in the first place. In this day and age, marriages or relationships don't last forever anyway, so why should I worry about some possible problems in the future when problems may as well occur anyway?
My closest family wouldn't mind, as for the rest, I don't care, but apart from the novelty factor, I don't think there would be any issues.
I'm probably a bit naïve, but at least I'd want to check it out myself before emphatically saying "it won't work".

Me being an Atheist, she'd have to be non-religious too, and then she probably wouldn't be too concerned with tradition, which is the only obstacle I can see for my part (the non-whites here around who are either immigrants or children of immigrants, so tradition and religion seems to be fairly important)

On a side note, I studied in England and remember we had to fill out a form and tick white/caucasian, black, hispanic, asian etc. I just thought that was stupid, so I ticked "other". It was all very PC I am sure, but I don't understand how one is supposed to end bigotry with this constant focus on race. What's next? Labels on our chest?

ciara said...

i'm of mixed race, so are my girls, their dad's family has different mixed race...i'm still hoping for the time that race, religion, sexual orientation doesn't matter....but so have a lot of others who've been waiting even longer. will that time ever come? i sure hope so, but it hasn't come in hundreds of years even with what progress has been made in regards to it. this whole thing with race and such isn't new...it didn't start here in the u.s. it's been around for thousands of years.

all i have to ask? is why worry about whether someone raises an eyebrow when you state your preference?

Aniya said...

What an interesting post. I was born some kind of cocktail, (mother English, father African) and I have them to thank for that. I married an Italian, so what does that make my children? As someone pointed out here in Europe it seems to be the in thing, one way or another it's not a big deal to me, we are all the same, give or take ;-) Great blog Zee..

LADY ROOTS said...

Sistren Zee,


I decided at a very early age that I would not, nor would I allow any of my children to have a relationship with any one who was not of the human race.

Beyond that, it is all nonsense.

Bless Up,
Lady Roots
Yes, Honoured Sistren Zee, I know you are an atheist, but I am not and I want Jah to bless you!

Wendy said...

Hi Zee --

I agree with you. I grew up not just in the USA but in the southern US, where interracial anything is very much frowned upon.

My lifelong best friend is white and has a daughter of mixed race who is one of the smartest and most beautiful little girls I know. To say that her existence is wrong would be a tragedy.

Our polarization here is because of our history. Though I still see pockets of extreme racism in this country (like in virtually every country), with every generation I do believe it gets better and we get smarter.

The one thing that makes me sad right now (which I blogged about a few weeks ago) is how many are keeping the division going - people who say they are supporting the rights of other races but are really just fomenting hate among the different races. People like Jesse Jackson. I think makes a lot of money off of racial hatred, and that he doesn't really want to see anything get better. That makes as sad as blatant racism does.

The Vegas Art Guy said...

It really depends on what part of the US you are in. Out here in Las Vegas, it's no big deal to see an inter racial relationship. Ask the race hustlers (Sharpton & Jackson) why we don't have better race relationships between blacks and whites...

Bent Society said...

Keep it as it is Zee - your blog tells it as it is.

As you know the mainstream media is still very much white oriented (its changing for the better every day though) - as is the history in our schools.

I think that having clearly defined Black writers and thinkers is still essential for now at least. There are White issues, Asian issues and Black issues. This does not mean they should be secret or private/exclusive/excluding...Your blog seems to me to welcome all...while from time-to-time having a Black focus - no doubt because you are Black. White peoiple do that all the time - they just don't refer to themsleves as White unless they mean Far Right. But then in the Caribbean, and most of Africa, people don't refer to themsleves as "Black" - because they are the majority. So please keep the title as it makes perfect sense in the UK and USA at least.

Back on the main point - I'm White and my fiance is Black (Jamaican heritage Black British). We're expecting a child next April. We've worked hard, are socially intelligent (I hope), and live in a multicultural city (Nottingham UK). I now 100% that our child will be loved and nurtured by us and our families and friends and taught about Black and White culture and history equally in our home - whatever goes on in school.

My problem is with racists - such as the BNP -- that they can be a political party in my country and spout and publish their ignoranty evil poison against interacial relationships and mixed heritage children is what worries me - not any cultural differences between right minded people in our community.