On the fan page today I presented a man, Stan, 58, who reached out to me because he wished to connect with a like-minded black woman. I was a little taken aback by the comments and suspicion that arose. (I’m not judging it; I do understand where it comes from so please don’t think I’m attacking you ladies.) It became an issue about how older white men, say, in their 40s thru 60s and up who have previously made families with white or Asian women, seem to express their interest in black women later in life. There is little empathy for these men, many of whom were witness to segregation, integration, and outward hostility to people who opposed race mixing. I believe many of these young women who think these men should have risked violence or a lifetime of hard-scrabble in their career life for love have honestly watched too many Disney princess movies. It’s almost as if they believe every couple should have been like the Lovings, being happy to fight against every obstacle for the sake of love. It’s a noble and romantic notion, but not very practical. People get married for more reasons besides love and, like the old saying goes, “Love don’t pay the rent.”
Amidst the criticism of Stan, I commented:
You are looking into the prism of your own generation. The 1950’s was a VERY different place (Stan was born in the 50’s). Being in an interracial relationship could literally get you killed. Think about that for a second…being on constant alert for possible attack and racism. Would you be cool living a life like that? I know I wouldn’t. Kudos to the people like the Lovings who paved the way, but trust and believe the road was HARD. I just wish younger people could express more empathy about the way things used to be.
What we also don’t take into account in these conversations is that black women who were attracted to non-black men also pushed away those desires because they were impractical, and the social consequences of making those choices were equally harsh and potentially devastating. If you weren’t a celebrity and independently wealthy, you couldn’t just make the decision to say, “F*ck everybody–I’m going to do what I want!” Even if a white man wanted to marry a black woman, no doubt he would have faced opposition on both fronts–because that girl’s black family would NOT be having it. The couple would have had to go it alone with virtually no support, which can put tremendous stress on a marriage. Even the Lovings had the support of their little community in Virginia; they lived years without even knowing it was “wrong” for them to marry. They had a circle of support that most interracial couples didn’t have at the time. So unless you were Sammy Davis, Jr., Donna Summer or Sidney Poitier – celebrities who could live above cultural mores of their time – you were going to have a hell of a battle.
I’m glad we live in a time where adults are more free to make decisions based on their own happiness and pursue interracial relationships more freely. But let’s be real here–it’s a lot easier to do because a lot more people are doing it. Historical perspective is important. It’s also not a good idea to judge a person without having a full understanding of who they are. Here’s a copy of Stan’s letter to me. If, after you read it, you think him too cowardly in throwing his hat in the ring at his stage in life, then there’s really not much more I can say. I have no doubt that some woman who might be reading this in this man’s age group will be intrigued.
Stan’s letter (in full)
I live in Honolulu and I discovered you completely by accident today. I am so proud of you and what you have accomplished. So, even if your site was taken down, it has been reborn…and you will be better than ever.
Anyway, I am half Filipino and half Euro-American, and a public historian. I was born in the 1950s. I was called the “N” word by Euro-American kids in elementary school for being mixed or “hapa.” My Filipino American father decided that since he had Italian American friends who swore up and down that our family name was Italian, that we would lie about we were. So, I lied for about 25 years. Then I spent another 10 years finding out who I really was and getting up the courage to proclaim it in public.
I was born in LA; spent 10 years in the Bay Area; one year in Honolulu; one year in Vancouver; five years in the vicinity of Portland, Oregon; four years in Atlanta; 22 years in Texas; then decided to move to Maui in 2003, where my father’s family resided, so that I could reconnect with my roots. I was so elated. I wrote a series of essays about being interracial under the title of “Finding My Color Brown” before leaving Texas. To my horror, however, when I got there, I was shunned by Filipinos who pronounced me as “haole” or white, regardless of my real ethnicity. I had never married and was pushing 50, so, I went off-shore to find a Filipino bride with a matchmaker from Maui. The woman was in her mid-30s and pretty. She had a son who was born out of wedlock. It didn’t matter to me. I loved him when I met him. He was five. We married. It took almost three years to get her and the boy’s immigration papers but when she arrived, she hated Maui and returned to the Philippines. We tried twice. I filed for divorce and under the terms of the decree, I have supported her and the boy who I still love very much. He is 13 now. I will not abandon a teenager and I am the only dad that he has ever known.
Anyway, I am 58 now. I think that I look younger. I had African American girlfriends in Texas because I worked in low income communities there for ten years and I couldn’t date white women because I knew too much. I degreed as an anthropologist, studied architecture in grad school, and have worked as an architectural and public historian for 20 years. I left Maui for Honolulu in 2013.
I now direct the production of post-colonial histories that are inclusive and feature everyone–Asians and Pacific Islanders, African Americans and Euro-Americans for a really large transportation project. So, if an African-American attorney named Thomas McCants Stewart (1853-1923) was involved in drafting the early charters for the City and County of Honolulu, he must be included, even though his contribution as well as others like him, have been forgotten. I love my job.
I read and write a lot. This has caused me to see a whole decade fly by. Now I am overly cognizant of my age, my being lonely and in need of companionship, and intimacy. My work, however, causes race and racial issues to always be present in thought or in conversation. So, I need someone who recognizes the importance of history to the present and future and shares my passion of finding out what really happened to make things the way they are today. Then we can just hang out and enjoy being in paradise and enjoy what a racially mixed society really can be.
Anyone interested in reaching out to Stan can get his contact information via our private forum here.