Most people involved in an interracial relationship have experienced public disapproval by way of harsh glares, unforgiving comments or other reactions. Some countries have restricted cohabitation or marriage of interracial couples. Until 1967, it was illegal for interracial couples to marry in many U.S. states, especially in the South.
Despite legal support, interracial couples can face daily opposition from outsiders who still view such relationships as unnatural or disgraceful. It can be an uphill battle combating the offensive remarks and insults that are doled out with unabashed viciousness. As difficult as it is to deal with public opposition, how can you face disapproval that comes from your own family?
That is precisely the issue that my cousin and I are dealing with in my family. I am currently in a long-term relationship with an Irishman. I have always dated outside of my race and my parents have supported me and openly accepted anyone I have dated. Typically, they worry that my partner’s family won’t accept me or approve of the relationship. However, my current boyfriend’s family and friends have welcomed me with open arms and have shared in our happiness. It can be very difficult to be in an interracial relationship when you are subjected to public disapproval accompanied by comments or glares, however, that same rejection from your family can be even more hurtful and devastating.
There are whispers in my family as to whether my cousin secretly married her fiancée. No one will confirm the marriage for fear that it will anger my grandmother. You see, my cousin is Black and her fiance is Caucasian. My grandmother does not condone the mixing of races under any circumstances but especially in relationships. She grew up in Alabama (US southern state) and lived through intense racism and segregation. Although my cousin’s parents and (future) in-laws are accepting of the relationship, they understand my grandmother disapproves and will never accept the fiance into our family.
To an extent, I understand why my grandmother is so resistant to interracial relationships. She has endured blatant racism and hatred for being Black. She couldn’t attend any school she chose or live in any neighborhood she wanted because of our country’s segregation laws. My own father had to deal with segregation issues and was one of four students to integrate an all-Caucasian school in the South. Although I am far removed from the struggle for civil rights, I too have been subjected to racism and vividly remember being called the “n-word” by a fellow classmate when I was only 8 years old.
Despite the racism my parents and I endured, I was taught to judge the individual person. If I decided to judge and hate an entire race or culture based on the actions of one ignorant person, I would have missed out on interesting colleagues, amazing friendships and a loving Irish boyfriend.
While I understand my grandmother’s disapproval, I cannot condone her decision to hold hatred in her heart and perpetuate the segregation ideals that she had to suffer. At the end of the day, I choose to embrace my relationship. I have a boyfriend who cherishes and respects me; I could not ask for more and I will not give it up or keep it a secret from anyone. I have concluded that I am responsible for my own happiness and neither society nor my family will determine who I should love or marry.