One of my favorite interracial couples, Iman & David Bowie / Image via BruceWeber.com
The idea for this post came to me last week during my annual trip down to Cancun with Mr. Mongoose and his family. While this is my seventh trip to the beautiful Mexican city (my first two times were with a BFF and the last five times have been with Mr. Mongoose), this trip made me much more aware of how we may appear to outsiders.
So, as you guys may know, I am Haitian-American and Mr. Mongoose is third generation American of Italian/Norwegian descent. Being in an interracial relationship up here in New Haven and NYC is so 10 years ago—it’s so common that we are not even close to being considered an anomaly anymore. In fact, a new census study last year showed that the rate of interracial couples in the US is at an all-time high, with one in ten couples considered interracial (and this is any mix, not just black and white couples). But sometimes when traveling to other places (whether that be a different state or different country), I notice that our type of relationship isn’t nearly as common. Now, luckily for us, we’ve never gotten any nasty or rude comments (or at least none that we’ve been aware of), but sometimes we get the “stare.” It’s more of a “well then, an interracial couple” stare than a hostile one, but still a stare nonetheless. Mr. Mongoose is usually completely oblivious to any sort of looks, while I find myself a bit more aware. And, not going to lie, I definitely feel like some sort of circus attraction sometimes (not too often, but it also depends on where we are). Despite that though, I’ve never really felt mistreated or hated on.
But sometimes these stares gets me thinking that only 50 years ago, it would have actually been against the law for Mr. Mongoose and I to have even considered getting married. It boggles my mind that there was a time when such a limitation on love was implemented, simply because of the color of our skin. We could have literally been beaten and jailed for having the audacity to be in a relationship. I feel so lucky to have been born in this era—and while of course things are far from perfect and people still get discriminated against for the type of relationship they are in, it’s still not nearly as terrifying now as it must have been for interracial couples back in the day.
At the time I was growing up in Queens, NY in the 90s, my neighborhood was a diverse melting pot. Remember how I mentioned that when my bridesmaids are together, we look like a U.N. summit? Well my tendency to seek out friendships with people from all different backgrounds had no doubt transferred over from my childhood. Growing up, my friends were black, white, Hispanic and Asian. My first crush (in kindergarten!) was half-Italian and half-Haitian. In high school, even though I often found myself as the only black person in quite a few classes, no one treated me differently or made me feel like an outsider, ever. I truly cherish where and how I grew up—it was like some idealistic utopia that you only read about in novels. And now that Mr. Mongoose and I are getting married and will eventually have a family of our own, I can only wish and hope for the same experience for our children as they grow up.
I really am looking forward to having children that will be of mixed race, but I find myself worried sometimes over certain things. For one, I hope they will never feel like outsiders. I hope they can be proud of their unique mix and learn to embrace both races (despite only being able to check off one “race” box when filling out those dreadful forms). I hope Mr. Mongoose and I can find somewhere to settle down that is as safe as it is diverse, so that no child or family stands out for looking different. And while there may be a chance that our kids will look NOTHING like either of us, it will be amazing to know that they will get the “best” of us like any other couple, traditional or otherwise
Are you in an interracial relationship or born of interracial parents? Has your experience been mostly positive or negative?