I was asked by a friend what it’s like being in an interracial relationship and if I had any advice. Honestly I never used to think anything of it. As I’ve been told many times, (including that day) I am very naïve when it comes to relationships and other people’s perceptions mainly due to the fact I expect everyone to be as open minded as I am or think along the same lines!
I was born in Zambia to parents born and bred in Zambia. I’ve grown up in England and I’m catholic. Si’s parents are from Pakistan. He grew up in America and has spent his adult life in England. Oh and he’s catholic too.
I always thought I’d marry a white man and have mixed race babies. That may still happen but as it stands there’s a possibility it may not happen. I’ve grown up mainly around white people so it made sense that I found white guys the most attractive. Saying that, race has never been an issue for me. If I find someone attractive with a personality then that’s it. It doesn’t matter where they’re from or what colour they are as long as they treat me right and make me happy.
When I met Si I thought, he’s not an idiot, he has aspirations and makes me laugh so there should be no problem (also helped that he ticked most of my overprotective dads check list or at least the one I thought he’d have). I’m not quite sure when I noticed the stares but it was pretty soon after we started going out in public together. We’d notice black people looking at me with an inquisitive look on their faces as if to say “do you know you’re holding an Asian boys hand, do you need rescuing?” The same happened to Si from Asians except his was more of a “ohh this is haram, do your parents know what you’re doing” kind of look. I can’t say looks have ever bothered me. At the end of the day we do not know any of these people and it is none of their business. We’d had some funny moments however e.g. people genuinely slowing down in their cars just to make sure what they were seeing was right. I know…
As much as I do not care what random people think of what I do, I do however care about how certain people (without going naming any names) perceive my actions. Sadly in this day and age there are people that do not agree with me a black girl dating a white guy and are even worse about a black person dating an Asian boy. There is a lot of prejudice out there and sadly we see a lot of negatives on the news and in society about Asian (generally muslims)which is really sad. Should we define one person based upon what you may have heard from others? No. If we did that then technically I should be aspiring to be a working wife who will have a generic job, get married to an African man who expects me to do all the cooking, cleaning, ironing and raise our children whilst he gets waited on hand and foot. Having two cultures make it very difficult. One society states that I am meant to accept that without question and the other society tells me to stand up for myself and do what makes me happy.
Don’t get me wrong, I want to get married, have a family and work but I believe in equality. I also believe that I should do my duties as a wife out of love, not because society states that that’s what I’m meant to do. The difficulty with interracial relationships is that when at least one of you has more than one culture, you pick and choose the best bits from both cultures and introduce your other half to a new culture which can be hard. Not only are you trying to find common ground on your beliefs but you’re also trying to learn how to deal with the obstacles of being in a relationship and handle the opinions of other people whether you like it or not. It’s certainly not easy.
I have questioned my choices many times just because of what other people think so to anyone nervous about telling their family that they’re in an interracial relationship or afraid to get into one solely because of what other think my advice to you is –
1) Don’t get into a relationship thinking it’s going to be all roses. All relationships are difficult at the best of times but when you have other people giving you their opinions it can make everything 10x worse and make simple situations become way more difficult.
2) Respect yourself and your worth. If you do then the person you’re with will do the same.
3) Stand up for what you believe in. Don’t be naïve and don’t argue for the sake of it. At the end of the day you have to remind yourself that you have to live with that person. If you can honestly and happily live with that person for the foreseeable future and they look after you well then that’s all that matters.
4) Get advice from different generations. Our parents generation are very stuck in their ways meaning they’re not open to the idea of change. They are however full of wisdom. Younger generations understand what it’s like to grow up in different cultures and go through some of the stuff you have to go through. Somewhere in-between all that advice you will find a good balance.
5) Learn who to bite your tongue with. Trying to convince older generations about what you’re doing and how it’s fine will never work. When it comes to your close family and friends be honest. They will give you the best advice even when you think you know what you’re doing. With parents however, watch how honest you are. They say they can handle it but they can’t!
6) Some days will be utterly amazing and some days will be utterly crap. Be prepared! Some relationships with the people around you are going to change but you have to be mature enough to make the effort with people even if they hurt you. You think you’re doing the right thing and will fight for it, those around you also think the same.
I could keep going on but this is a bit too long now.
I hope this helps!