This semester I’m taking a course on Cross-cultural counselling. Part of the coursework is a weekly journal reflecting on anything I’ve learned, thought about, or found challenging from the course material. I decided to post parts of these reflections in a weekly series called “Many Villages”.
Mixed race couples represent 3.9% of unions in Canada. I was startled to see such a low number. In a small way, I’ve created a blog environment that attracts interracial couples, and I read blogs of other mixed families. In our circle of friends, there are 8 interracial couples. So I sometimes forget that we’re a tiny, tiny minority.
As a result, I find this statistic very surprising. Granted, my world is a bit skewed: I live in an extremely diverse city. I think our status as the first interracial couple in our circles to be married, encouraged other friends and couples to seek us out or introduce us to others.
To be honest, I don’t care much what the percentage is. I’m not for interracial marriages in the sense that I think people should seek them out. The only thing that would trouble me is if this statistic is low because some people find interracial marriages upsetting or even, abhorrent.
I won’t say that I’m colour blind. I can see as well as you that Varun has deep chocolate brown eyes, bronzed skin and thick black hair. I know that I have freckles and dirty blond hair. When our hands are intertwined mine look downright pasty. I can see that. But, it doesn’t make any difference. When my husband comes home from work, I run to hug him. I don’t see a “foreigner”. I see the man who works hard earning for our family. I see the man who loves, cherishes and protects me. I see the man with whom I share hours of fun; a man who is quick to laugh at himself, even when his English falters. (Taken from a post I once wrote)
And so, it makes me sad to learn about the distrust and skepticism that some have of interracial marriages. While we didn’t learn anything in class this week specifically about Canadian attitudes towards interracial marriages, we did watch a video consisting of interviews by young adults who have mixed racial backgrounds. Their experiences in Canada have ranged from good, to neutral, to terrible. I was shocked to hear of the mockery they received, the mistreatment by officials and teachers and the deep questions of identity that they wrestle with, often alone.
Surely, this treatment of children born of interracial marriages reflects a deeper issue: many in our society are uncomfortable with races mixing.
To be honest, I’m not quite sure.
I can think of a few historical, political or religious reasons that certain races might not favour mixing. However, I think it’s largely an issue of fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the other. Fear of losing control. Or maybe it’s pride. Pride in one’s own country. Pride in the superiority of one’s race.
I’m not sure.
Whatever the reason, it’s heartbreaking that this prejudice is taken out on the children of interracial couples. The children I know from interracial marriages are just like every other kid: they drool, they’re cute, they scream, they giggle, they get into trouble. They look a little bit like Mom, and a little bit like Dad.
I have to admit, I cringed while watching that movie. I imagined our children and the questions and taunts they could face. Our family will not be the 2.5 kids, white picket fence, blonde-hair-blue-eyes ideal. As of today, our family will be one white mother, one Indian husband and one Indian child.
Interracial marriage, adopted child, transracial adoption.
If we choose to grow our family biologically, we’ll have mixed race kids and at least one fully Indian child*. To me, that sounds awesome. I long for the day when their laughter fills the house and I can tuck them into bed. I won’t be thinking about the colour of their skin or their genetic purity; I’ll be praying for their little souls and how I can mould their characters.
It’s my hope that as a generation in which interracial marriage is up by 33%, we can be a generation that welcomes the children of those unions. That we will look on them as human beings, deserving respect like everyone else. I’d like to live in a world where interracial families are just that: families. Perhaps a bit more exotic, maybe even with an interesting dish to bring to the church potluck, maybe needing extra encouragement when cultural differences cause tension. But at the end of the day, families.
*I use “Indian” in this post as short hand. I don’t mean to say that Indian is a race, or that one of our children will be more Indian than the others.
I’m curious, what do you think? Have you received negative feedback as someone in an interracial marriage or as a person of mixed races? What attitudes to you perceive today about these issues?