I grew up in an interesting environment. When we first moved to Beachwood, we were one of the first African-American families in a mostly Jewish suburb. When I graduated, there were more families but it didn’t affect my experiences. I was the only African-American in most of my classes. My favorite band was Duran Duran (and they were plastered all over my walls).
I wasn’t white enough for some of the white people and I wasn’t black enough for some of the African-American students. My family members said (somewhat derogatorily) that I’d probably “marry a white boy.” My step brothers didn’t want anything do to with a black woman and my stepmother once told me that “there were no black girls” of her son’s caliber.
By the time I left college, I was actually scared to date outside of my race. On one hand, I’d face ridicule from my family. On the other hand, I truly felt I had to prove to my step family that black love was real. The result is I put unnecessary restrictions on my potential suitors and cared more about what other people thought about me than how I decided to live my life (because I was the only one living it). In my mid-40s, I decided that the man who was right for me was for me – regardless of race or ethnicity. Here is where the happy ending should go but this is actually where the story ends. No riding off into the sunset with Mr. Right and a story that ended with a question mark and no happily ever after.
When Aman Kaur contacted me, I was immediately intrigued. She has a podcast devoted to Indian Interracial Marriages. What a great idea! First of all, so often we literally want to reduce the world into black and white but those are no true constructs. There are African Americans, Jamaicans, Haitians, black living in Europe not to mention populating most of an entire continent made up of 54 countries with different cultures. What is white? Is it American? European? What is ‘white culture’? Yes, there is definitely more than just black and white. Let’s no forget Hispanic (and all that it entails), the wide variety of Asian cultures and so much more. When you add in religion, there are a ton of options and mixtures.
The Indian culture is rich and diverse. An interracial Indian couple faces many of the challenges that I feared I would face had I brought home a white boy. LOL! There are expectations. There is a fear born out of a child following a path the parents had so careful prepared for and imagined.
One thing that impressed me was the closeness of many Indian families. That saying that you don’t just marry your mate, you also marry their family (and their friends for that matter) is often true. Reaching out and embracing family is critical (and the family has to embrace the mate too).
Speaking to Aman was a fabulous experience. It opened my eyes to the fact that there really is a whole world out there. And that world is rich, diverse and worth getting to know.