It’s 2012. Are We Really Still Having This Conversation?

Ever since I started blogging, I read a lot of other blogs. It comes with the territory. Today while I was skimming through some of my favorites, I came across a post on Babble claiming that “many parents still object to interracial dating and marriage.” I had to check the date. Maybe Babble has been around longer than I thought. Maybe they have archives since before the digital age. Nope. It was dated 2012, not 1912.

The article was discussing the results of an Anderson 360 study that was recently discussed on Huffington Post.  Both writers on Huffington and Babble reported that some parents in the study objected to their children dating or marrying outside of their race. Both writers go on to say that these parents in the study indicated interracial marriage would be problematic because:

         The couples will face more challenges as a result of marrying outside of their race (Sullivan,                         para. 3).


In case you don’t know, I’m white. And I’m married to a black man. If you ask Gus, he’ll say that his daddy is black and his mommy is pink. I’m scratching my head trying to come up with any challenges we might have in our marriage as a result of the fact that my skin is a different color than my husbands. The only thing I can come up with is that I will probably be the one to get skin cancer. And you can die from skin cancer. So that could be problematic. Other than that, I’ve got nothing.

Now, I can understand parents being concerned with their children marrying outside of their own culture. For example, a child from a fundamentalist Christian family is going to have some additional marital challenges if they marry an individual from an Orthodox Jewish family. These are two very different cultures and bridging this gap certainly provides unique challenges outside of your average marital woes.

However, the authors in Huffington and Babble do not say culture- they say race.

It may just be a play on words, but it sends a very powerful message. Race is simply about skin color. Culture refers to a way of being and existing within a group. Race is not synonymous with culture. When individuals assume that being a particular race is the same as belonging to a particular culture, they have stepped onto a very slippery slope. A slope that usually ends in broad generalizations and stereotypes. You may be assuming likeness where there is only difference.

So, here we are.  I think Gus is right. I am a bit pink. I think I’ll start wearing more sunscreen.


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21 Responses to It’s 2012. Are We Really Still Having This Conversation?

  1. Tianana says:

    Very well said. Race is a cultural construct that has been used to divide. We need to remember that we are all human and with the high divorce rates there are plenty of issues that people need to deal with that have nothing to do with the color of their skin. I often get lulled into a false sense that everyone thinks like I do and then an article or issue comes up like this one. And by the way, you are pink – Nutrogena SPF 70 is a great sunscreen.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Tianana. For a moment when I saw the headline I thought I had unknowingly stepped into a time machine.

  2. Melissa says:

    Great post! Wow I can’t believe the closed mindedness of people in today’s day and age you would have thought we move past this by FAR! I totally agree with you on all points. Culture yep I can see where that could cause some issues to be worked out but race …wow just wow. I have a few issues with babble in general so….Happy Sunday!

  3. Yes, there are still parents who think that way. Sadly, my in-laws are among them. And my husband’s only really serious girlfriend before me was from Cameroon. Obviously I was his second choice. Not a great feeling.

    What is surprising, though, is that this article seems to be talking about parents whose kids are still YOUNG. In other words, people who are probably still pretty young themselves. It’s hard to believe that the world is changing so slowly.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Ugh…That can’t be a good feel at all:( It didn’t dawn on me about the age factor with the parents, but I re-read it and you’re right. They are pretty young.

  4. Amber says:

    Lately, I feel as if we’ve gone back in time. The crusade against women’s rights, the discussions about interracial marriage, and all these other crazy things just blow my mind.

    Welcome to 2012, folks, we still can’t get things right!

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      That’s so funny that you say that about going back in time. If you look at the earlier comments, I said that I felt like I have unknowingly stepped into a time machine. And I just don’t get it…why are we here again? Didn’t we already do this?

  5. Great post! I dated a black man in France, so I don’t really know what interracial relationships are like here but there was major static over there. I definitely agree that if you take away racism and prejudice all you’re left with is skin pigmentation and that doesn’t matter at all! BTW, cute photo of you too! Looks like a very chill wedding.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks, Shasta. It was very chill. Completely our style. We got married on the beach and then jumped into the ocean.

  6. Rach says:

    Do you know this Shel Silverstein poem:

    “When You Turn Off the Light”
    Small as a peanut,
    Big as a giant,
    We’re all the same size
    When we turn off the light.

    Rich as a sultan,
    Poor as a mite,
    We’re all worth the same
    When we turn off the light.

    Red, black or orange
    Yellow or white,
    We all look the same
    When we turn off the light.

    So maybe the way
    To make everything right
    Is for God to just reach out
    And turn off the light!

    — Shel Silverstein

    It’s so frustrating to me that more people aren’t getting this message. I agree with everything you wrote–cultural differences are tough, but race, really??

    I read something recently that said black families were more likely to have discussions about racism with their children than white families because many whites aren’t aware it’s still an on-going problem. I live in the south (not the Deep South, but “south” enough) and you can certainly see it. I suppose it *is* better than the 1950’s and ’60’s…but still.

  7. Sometimes, I’m really amazed at what I see. Seriously. People can be awful.

    I’ve embraced my pinkness and am a sunscreen addict.

  8. Leslie says:

    Hello! I am the writer of the story you commented on a few days ago, about interracial marriages. I agree that race and culture are two different things – but race was the context of the story, that the Supreme Court, which did not make the distinction, had to make a point of declaring these marriages legal, 45 years ago this year (There was an HBO documentary you may know of about it released in February.)
    This interests me not only as a writer, but as a Afro-wearing black woman married to a bald Jewish man. We have many things in common, being raised in the same city and having attended the same high school. But some of our culture is different, religiously, and the way we were raised. I know that it seems that discussing these things is turning the clock back. The point of the story I wrote was to acknowledge the law that, a year before my husband’s birth, would have made my marriage illegal, and to say that it’s not as big a deal now. Thanks for reading and writing. Your photo is gorgeous.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Thanks for commenting, Leslie. I appreciate you coming here to further the discussion. My marriage would have been illegal too:) I didn’t know about the documentary, but it sounds like something I’d like. I just wanted to point out that sometimes people use the word race when really they should be using the word culture. I think the misuse of the words is what contributes to stereotypes and misunderstandings. Thanks again for stopping by and being so diplomatic in your response:) And thanks about my photo, too.

  9. Sara says:

    My husband is African…I am white. ALL our problems are for two reasons: culture and the general husband/wife stuff. None of our issues have anything to do with race. But our cultures are so different – independent vs dependent, etc. so that’s why it’s hard. I hate when people use the words wrong.

    A little over a year ago, in our apartment complex, a young boy of about 10 asked my husband “Is that your wife?” He replied “Yes.” The (black) boy responded “You need to get a brown one.” I was pregnant at the time and very emotional. I asked the boy “did your parents teach you that?” He said “yes.” I screamed “well they’re WRONG!” and then cried and cried. Anyway, it was just depressing to know that no matter where we live, people are always going to have problems with us…and that sucks.

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      Whoa…I would have bawled my eyes out too!

      • Leslie says:

        I have decided in my marriage to the bald Jewish man who loves me and my large red Afro that I will no longer coddle stupid people. I will not hold my tongue to save their embarassment. If you have the gall to walk up to strangers and ask stupid questions, I will not shield you from the weight of your stupidity. It ranges from hostesses at restaurants who see us talking and standing together, are looking for a table of two, and ask us, surprised, if we are together, from the family friend of my husband’s who apparently thought I was my niece’s nanny and when I said I was her aunt, said the word very carefully as if it meant something different on my black planet than in the rest of the world. I am never rude. But I say “Yep, we’re the table of two! The only one! Standing here talking to each other!” or “I. am. married. to. her. father’s. brother.” They probably think I’m the mean one. But I refuse to any longer act like that’s OK. I am sorry that that child said that to you, Sara, and that he was raised by such dumb people. The adults…are the problem.

  10. Did you read the Associated Press article back in February about increasing rates of interracial marriage and children? It included some disturbing and really disappointing stats about the percent of people who still do not think interracial marriage should be legal or who wouldn’t be okay with someone in their family dating a black person. So although we’re making progress, there is sadly still a long way to go.

    By the way, just discovered your blog today and I am chuckling because I too am a white child psychologist (not practicing at the moment) married to a black man. And I too had the epiphany after having kids that Whoa! This is much harder than I realized! :)

    I remember hearing the “concern” when Hubby & I were dating about how “hard” it might be for us as a couple or for our children, since racism still exists. My answer was always that I would much rather that problems come from outside my relationship/family than from within it!

    • Mommy Psychologist says:

      I didn’t read the article. I’m sure I would have been just as equally disturbed. I feel really fortunate that we live in L.A so we get to exist within a pretty big melting pot. I realize it would be different if we didn’t live where we live.

      Maybe we are related? It seems that we have entirely too much in common!

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