What Does Your Family Think?
What did your family think?
When people learn that my wife and I are an interracial couple (she’s Black, I’m White), frequently this is how they respond.
I’ll tell you what my family thought:
— Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner
— There Goes the Neighborhood
— That’s just great. Now we’ll have to stop telling all those racist jokes at dinner.
Hopefully, you are able to discern that the above list is intended as sarcasm. My family thought nothing of this kind. Indeed, just the opposite. My family embraced my wife wholeheartedly. She quickly became one of us, beloved by all (and, frankly, beloved more than me). Do my family members see that she has a skin color different than their own? Yes, of course. They’re all near-sighted, but they’re not blind. Do they care? No. They’re just excited that she’s part of our family, that I’m happy, and that my wife and I have a 7-month old son who’s so cute and so cool, we still can’t believe we got that lucky.
When people ask this question about family, I become disappointed and discouraged. I’m disappointed that they assume that my family or anyone’s family harbors racist beliefs that would cause them to care. And, I am discouraged that this still is a question people would have on their minds in this day and age.
On the other hand, I’m not naive. I live in this World, not a parallel universe. I see what happens. I read the news. I know that racism still is with us. I understand that there are still people who are against interracial relationships. So, I recognize why people might think that family members might harbor negative feelings about interracial relationships.
But, here’s a question I have? Why ask the question? What is the questioner hoping to learn?
Is it to receive the answer “my family was against it” so that you – the questioner — can confirm your own beliefs that everyone’s a racist?
What if the questioner believes everyone’s a racist, but the answer I provide is that “my family doesn’t care” or “my family is just happy for me?” What then? Will you change your world view? Will you be happy for me? Or will you simply be pissed off that you didn’t get the answer you were looking for? And, if that’s the case, what does that say about you?
Are you asking because you’re in an interracial relationship or considering entering into one, and you’re afraid that your family will react negatively, so you’re seeking some support, some evidence, that families can accept crossing the racial divide. I understand that. And, if that’s the case, I hope my example provides you some strength and peace of mind. On the other hand, just because my family does not have any negative thoughts about interracial relationships, doesn’t guarantee that every other family will think and act the same way. Your family may consider my family’s views unimportant and irrelevant, and offering up the example of my family may not get you anywhere with yours.
Point is, I’m not sure why it should matter to you what my family thought about my wife and me being an interracial couple. What should matter to those of you in interracial relationships is what you think about that relationship, what your spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend thinks, and what your family thinks.
Hopefully, all that thinking is focused on how happy you are in the relationship, irrespective of skin color.
Hopefully, the collective thinking is that differences in skin color are no different than differences in hair color or eye color.
Hopefully, your family has embraced your spouse or significant other because that person is a good person who loves you and that’s the most important part of this whole equation.
And, hopefully, sometime soon — very soon — no one will ask again “what does your family think?” Because there won’t be anything — at least not anything racial — to think about.
About Alex Barnett:
Alex Barnett is a lawyer-turned-comic. He and his wife are an interracial couple, and they have a Biracial son. Alex can be seen performing at venues all over the country. You can also see him performing with the Comedians at Law (www.comediansatlaw.com) a group of 6 lawyers-turned-comic)