“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” – Maya Angelou
Interracial couples. Let’s chat about the beauty that is two people of different colors, different faiths and different backgrounds coming together.
(To my beloved desi moms, you probably won’t want to read this post but I encourage you to try to get through it with an objective perspective, and leave me feedback, if you want.)
As I watch my parents, and family, open up to my Gingerbeard, I know that this isn’t the case for most families. While writing blogs about my personal experiences, I get to hear a lot of stories from other people, including friends, who happen to be going through challenging times with their parents. They don’t know how to communicate with their parents about their feelings or how to explain to their significant others what it’s like growing up in an overprotective culture, and what they can expect for the future. Here’s to hoping I can offer some advice from both sides of the table.
First of all, if you are in an interracial relationship, please take a minute to embrace yourself and your union. To me, it’s absolutely beautiful and endearing that you have been able to assimilate to a different culture and way of life; being open to loving someone who comes from a different world means exposing yourself to the unknown and that should absolutely be celebrated. There are so beautiful interracial couples out there, and I believe each of those stories should be celebrated.
While we fall in love with love all over again, let’s also figure out how to share with our parents what we’re feeling. If you’re like me, being Indian and trying to have an interracial relationship is just plain hard. No matter how you try to look it, getting through to our parents to explain this person of a different color is one roller coaster no one is running to jump on.
Before we ask our parents to understand where we’re coming from, I think it’s important we try to figure out where our parents are coming from. If you’re a first generation Indian, like me, our parents were most likely raised in a different country and came to America to offer a better life to their children.
What we, as their children, fail to understand is that our parents lived in a time where they did everything their parents told them to do, without questioning it. They lived the way their parents wanted them to, married the person their parents thought was the best match, and spent their money according to their parents wishes. For most of us, this is a concept we cannot fathom.
It’s nearly impossible for me to imagine a world where I would still be looking towards my parents to make every decision in regards to mylife. For our parents, this was the exact case. When their parents said something, they did it, no questions asked. This means that our parents also have certain expectations of us, their children, to act in a similar way. No one told our parents that coming to America meant they would have children who would question their every decision or wouldn’t listen to their wishes. Growing up in America, and figuring out how to assimilate to this culture was as much a shock for them as it is for us.
It’s also important that we remember this when we’re sharing our love stories with our parents. Instead of saying, This is who I love, and I’m going to do what I want, I truly believe that if we approached our parents a bit less aggressively and more open-minded, they would hear what we’re really trying to say. When our parents get upset with us, and aren’t willing to hear our side of the conversation, it’s most likely because they haven’t been able to talk about their feelings and perspectives. I have learned, from my own experience, that if I let my mom talk, like talk to her heart’s content, first, then she’s more open to listening to what I have to say afterwards.
From my point of view, it’s pretty advantageous to hear all of her objections first, before trying to explain to her why my thought process is different than hers.
In addition to actually listening to our parents, it’s vital to help explain to our significant other what they are about to experience when we bring them home for the first time. Before I introduced my parents to Gingerbeard, the first thing I did was talk to him about what he could expect when he met my family. For someone who is experiencing his first interracial relationship, it was important for me to explain to him why my parents were so over protective of me, why I had never introduced them to any boyfriend before, and why I needed to know what his intentions were before they met. We also had to have the very difficult conversation of marriage early on.
Imagine trying to explain to your boyfriend of 5 months that he shouldn’t freak out when my parents talk to him about marriage; that it’s not a big deal to me and, there is no way I’m going to be able to prevent them for saying God knows what else. I also feared that my super Hindu parents were going to scare away my super Christian boyfriend, and I had to find a way to prep him, in case my parents said anything about religion, God and faith.
That first meeting helped me understand the bigger picture, and it was more than I could have imagined. When my parents and my Gingerbeard met for the first time, the only person who was left astonished was me. My parents, who I thought were going to completely embarrass me, were absolutely amazing and sweet towards Devin. They talked to him about his job, a few questions about his family, and when it came to God, my parents surprised me by saying as long as you believe in a God, that’s all that matters.
That’s all that matters.
Having faith in your family, your significant other and your God. Somehow the universe finds a way to make all things right, and in that moment, I was able to understand all the years of conversations with my parents about interracial relationships. I had a faint idea where they were coming from, even though I didn’t quite agree on their stance, and because of those conversations, I found out that they were open to a tattooed, Gingerbearded white man because he was the man I chose. That meant everything to me. It would mean everything to any person who is in my shoes.
If you’re Indian, and from a pretty conservative family, being in an interracial relationship isn’t easy. You will have a lot of extremely difficult conversations, and there will be times that you will all end up in tears. Before you put your bullet proof vest on, please hear what your parents are telling you; they do have your best interest in mind. After they have listed all of their objections, take time to explain to them what your love is made up of, why this person is important to you and what your intentions are for your future together. Having a thought out plans helps, and it will solidify your case.
And after everything is said and done, give your parents some time to deal with the information you are giving them. If this is your first time expressing your love for your significant lover, please remember that it’s most likely your parents’ first time experiencing this type of a reality also. Just like you, they need time to process their emotions and feelings, and this experience will help you all bond in unity. At the end of the day, the only two words I have for you in regards to your family and your significant other are have faith. That’s all the world needs.
With much love,
Published by Vaishali Rana