Craig Eisele on …..

February 19, 2012

A Little About Interracial Couples

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mr. Craig @ 7:57 am

Discussions of interracial relationships often center on couples made up of a white person and a person of color. While that kind of interracial pairing is commonplace, many interracial couples don’t include whites but instead two members of racial minority groups. In the United States, such couplings date back to the time when the first Africans were shipped to the Americas during slavery and brought into contact with the indigenous peoples already living here. As immigrants from Asia, Latin America and elsewhere traveled to America, interracial relationships composed solely of minorities continued to rise. Also, international conflicts, such as the Korean War and the Vietnam War, led to interracial pairings composed of black GIs and Asian women, although the women in question were often powerless or exploited. Today, intermarriage between members of ethnic minority groups continues to thrive without catalysts like war as the driving force. So, why aren’t such marriages discussed more, and what distinct challenges do individuals in these relationships face?

Why Don’t Interracial Couples of Color Get Much Attention?

The reason intermarriage involving two people of color hasn’t garnered much attention is because historically, in the U.S., racial discussions have employed a white-black paradigm. Due to slavery and its legacy, race in America has typically focused on whites as the proponents of racism and blacks as its targets. Thus, Asians, Latinos, Native Americans and other groups have frequently found their experiences excluded from discussions of race. Accordingly, when interracial marriage is the topic at hand, not much focus will be placed on Asians who marry Latinos or even blacks who marry, say, Arabs because each of these pairings lies outside of the country’s traditional black-white racial narrative. That said, times are definitely changing, as indicated by popular culture. Slang terms such as“blaxican” and “blasian,” the child of a black person and a Mexican person or the child of a black person and an Asian person, respectively, are widely recognized in racially diverse states such as California. Moreover, movies and television shows increasingly feature interracial couples of color.

Intermarriage Between Minorities in Popular Culture

In 1991, the Mira Nair film “Mississippi Masala” broke ground by depicting an interracial romance between a character played by Denzel Washington and an East Indian woman. In “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle” (2004) Korean-American actor John Cho plays a character in love with his Latina neighbor. Coincidentally, Cho also plays love interest to African-American actress Gabrielle Union on ABC’s “Flash Forward.” Additionally, in 2005’s “Hitch,” Will Smith romances Cuban-American actress Eva Mendes.

When interracial couples of color aren’t being portrayed on the silver screen, we can turn to celebrities themselves to spot the trend. Chicano musician Carlos Santana’s wife of more than 35 years is a biracial black-white woman, and African American comic Dave Chapelle’s wife is Pilipina. Actors Russell Wong and Tommy Chong, who have Chinese and European ancestry, both fathered children with black female partners. Latina actresses Jessica Alba and Eva Longoria both married men who are racially mixed black and white.

Observing Family Customs

During an appearance on PBS series “Faces of America,” Eva Longoria discussed explaining the Mexican-American customs her family practices to her biracial NBA star husband Tony Parker. When two people from racial minority groups marry, they may have to negotiate how to integrate the customs of both into their home, especially if the individuals come from immigrant backgrounds. Does each partner understand the cultural practices of the other? Is each partner comfortable observing these traditions or with their children observing them?

Which Languages to Speak

Which languages do you and your significant other speak? Can your partner communicate with your family, or vice versa? If English isn’t your native language or your partner’s and each of you have non-English speaking family members, it would help you both to learn some common expressions in the other’s language. Once children enter the picture, which languages will they speak–your partner’s native tongue, yours, both, or solely English? Would you be comfortable having a child who didn’t speak your native language? How would your family members feel about having a grandchild, cousin, niece or nephew who couldn’t communicate with them? These are some of the questions people of color from immigrant backgrounds who marry members of other ethnic minority groups must answer.

How Will Your Children Racially Identify?

When biracial children have one white parent and one parent of color, it may be easy for them to identify with the minority parent because traditionally, in U.S. society, anyone racially mixed with heritage other than European was classified as a person of color. But if you are Pakistani and your mate is Puerto Rican, how will your child racially identify–as Asian, Latino or nothing at all? Ultimately, the decision belongs to your child. During their early years, however, you can help foster their sense of cultural identity. If strangers tend to assume your child is Latino, is it okay if your child assumes such an identity, even if you are Pakistani? If your child is exposed to one set of family members more than the other, is it okay if your child begins to ethnically identify with the relatives seen most often? Research indicates that biracial children flourish when taught to recognize each culture that makes up their heritage.

Horizontal Racism Between Interracial Couples of Color

Just because two members of ethnic minority groups couple up doesn’t mean they’re immune to racism or won’t be at its receiving end. A Korean-American man may romance a Mexican-American woman, all the while entertaining stereotypes about what he believes Chicanas are like. The family of the Mexican-American woman may object to her relationship with an Asian man.

When two people of color from different racial backgrounds enter a relationship, it’s necessary for them to learn as much as they can about the other’s culture and confront any stereotypes they may be harboring about the other’s ethnic group. Never imply that your ethnic group is superior to your significant other’s, or inferior, for that matter. You may think that Chicanos know the best way to prepare rice, but remember that’s just your opinion, and one that your Asian boyfriend may feel insulted by. It may also be necessary to decide how best to deal with family members resistant to the idea of you getting involved with “one of those people.” Educating relatives about your significant other’s culture may not only lower their resistance to him or her but encourage them to respect your mate more as well.

Wrapping Up

As immigrants from all over the world find themselves living together in American neighborhoods such as Los Angeles’ Koreatown, which also houses a considerable Latino population, the chances of them becoming romantically involved increase. Interracial couples of color may not fit into the black-white binary emphasized in American discussions of race, but they do exist and face unique challenges. It’s necessary for individuals in such couples to navigate not just mainstream American culture and the culture of their parents but their significant other’s culture as well. They must identify how best to pass down their cultural heritage to their children, while respecting their mate’s culture. Moreover, racial stereotyping in such relationships is just as damaging as it is in interracial couples involving a white person and a person of color. Avoid it at all costs.

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2 Comments »

  1. […] A Little About Interracial Couples « Craig Eisele on ….. You may think that Chicanos know the best way to prepare rice, but remember that's just your opinion, and one that your Asian boyfriend may feel insulted by. …. All Africa News Headlines · Sudan: Police Storm Khartoum University's Compounds February 18, 2012. [Sudan Tribune] Khartoum – Sudanese police in the early morning of Friday raided dormitories of the University of Khartoum and arrested over three hundred students in anticipation of a new protest they planned to stage … https://craigeisele.wordpress.com/ — Sun, 19 Feb 2012 04:57:52 -0800 […]

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    Pingback by Top USPS Headlines 12:18 | Chantler 411 — February 19, 2012 @ 12:18 pm

  2. […] A Little About Interracial Couples « Craig Eisele on ….. You may think that Chicanos know the best way to prepare rice, but remember that's just your opinion, and one that your Asian boyfriend may feel insulted by. …. All Africa News Headlines · Sudan: Police Storm Khartoum University's Compounds February 18, 2012. [Sudan Tribune] Khartoum – Sudanese police in the early morning of Friday raided dormitories of the University of Khartoum and arrested over three hundred students in anticipation of a new protest they planned to stage … https://craigeisele.wordpress.com/ — Sun, 19 Feb 2012 04:57:52 -0800 […]

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    Pingback by Top USPS Headlines 1:57 | Chantler 411 — February 19, 2012 @ 1:58 pm


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