The new age of interracial relationships
It feels like the generation we now live in now is obsessed with relationships. Every social media outlet seems to idolise those in publically exposed relationships and in particular those couples who are from different races. In countries such as the US, less than 50 years ago interracial marriage was illegal and even though the law has changed there are definitely still a lot of issues interracial couples encounter in today’s time, especially in the UK.
I believe in the UK especially, there is a different attitude towards interracial couples not because the concept is new but because of the way the society in the UK perceive it. The UK had mass immigration post war and those immigrants gave the UK the diversity and vibrancy it is renowned for today. But with that comes their cultures and beliefs which unfortunately comes hand-in hand with any interracial prejudices they may have. Immigrants born in the 60’s and the 70’s are typically the parents of the ‘new generation’ of late teens and those in their twenty somethings of ethnic minority backgrounds.
Whether the explosion in interracial relationships in recent times is either a cause or a by-product of the intrigue in interracial relationships shown in the media is debate for another blog. But from experience I can comfortably say that interracial relationships encounter more hurdles than same race couples. So before embarking on a long term interracial relationship, it is important to understand the issues you may encounter.
Without a doubt, family issues are the most obvious and probably the first issues an IR couple may encounter. The family play an integral part of your relationship whether you like that or not and ignoring this fact will only hinder your relationship in the long run. As sad as it may be, it is important that your parents are on-board with your relationship regardless of the race of your partner. From experience there are two main issues of why interracial couples encounter issues and they are parental issues and cultural issues. Parents may be against an IR because of the mere fact of race. The idea that you must marry from within is a strong principle in some ethnic backgrounds and most times that is the core issue. However I feel, in today’s generation parents suffer from a fear of the unknown and that the mere race of their child’s partner is not the sole issue, it is the fact that they may hold certain racial stereotypes which causes them to fear certain races. Also, the fact that marrying from within may give them a sort of safety blanket in terms of what to expect from their child’s partner and family.
What you cannot ignore also is the perception of the outer family members. The immediate family may be understanding and/ welcoming towards your IR but those not in that circle may not be so understanding and that is where the pressure comes from on the parents. I am aware of some Asian families where one side has ‘disowned’ another because a daughter of the other side married into a black family. Surprisingly, this really happens and quite more often than you imagine.
Issues regarding the contrasts in culture is another very important issue with interracial relationships. In Handle with Care, the relationship between Ola and Pria is a prime example of the cultural issues interracial couples encounter. Culture is define as: the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society. People of different races are most likely to have the most diverse of backgrounds and hence culture. This is gives rise to a possible culture clash. Issues regarding what kind of wedding to have or parenting, family and lifestyle contrasts always have to be considered when assessing possible issues with an IR. Another issue which I feel is not really given much attention is religion. Difference in religion is a major hurdle in terms of child upbringing. What religion will the child have? Will they have any religion? Is there a possible compromise? This is a major issue in terms of cultural clashes because in some races religion plays a core part on family life and a clash will cause certain integration issues for family members.
Another issue you may have in an IR is the perception of the public on your relationship. When going out to eat or buy some new clothes you may receive what you believe are prolonged stares and looks. I am a 20 year old black male and have been out in public with girls of different races and the contrasts in reactions is always entertaining. I generally think that couples in general are looked at for a few more seconds than others. I have been out with black females and get prolonged looks by members of the public and none has ever made me feel uncomfortable. People will look for small while and you can read their facial expressions; some just are clearly admiring a couple walking together. However, I have been out with asian girls and the feel I get is very different. For example, I noticed people would look at us for longer, maybe alert their friends to have a look also. This never really bothered me as I realised there was much more intrigue with IRs but in the past, I have experienced an asian man swear at an afghan girl I was with and the most likely reason was because she was with me – a young black man. People see an IR couple in public and the first thing they notice is the racial aspect which is quite bemusing; you would think we are at a time where the colour of a couple is not the focal point.
Your motivations and intentions
One thing for sure is there is certainly a trend of increasing interracial relationships and it seems the media support this through the public adoration of couples like Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. It also seems that people think that interracial couples produce the most attractive offspring further supporting the kind of trend I think we are experiencing; this new age of dating. I have been told that some girls who date interracially get asked if that it is a phase. This isn’t hard to believe because I have been approached by girls on nights out who meet me and open with lines like ‘I have never been with a black guy before’. There certainly is a type of fetish for some to date black boys – for the mere fact they are black and therefore must be well-endowed – abiding by racial stereotypes.
There is also a group of people who purposely date outside their race for ‘self-hate’ reasons. Their distaste for partners of their own race leads them to look elsewhere and this is a somewhat puzzling concept. When embarking on a long term IR it is vital to assess your motivations behind getting into the relationship and if a main reason is the race of the person and not other non-race characteristics then maybe long term dating isn’t for you.
Could things ever change?
The whole idea of basing partner preference on race highlights the impact of modern day racial stereotypes and the sad thing is that even though on the surface things may have changed there are still deep irremovable issues that will always hinder IR couples and that in my opinion must be accepted by those willing to embark on one. If you are in an IR, it is vital to be aware, helping you to tackle the issues you will encounter as this will be better for you in the long-run and saves you wasting time with a partner who is clearly not prepared for the issues you may face. I think the only time that things could change is when the generation of the current twenty somethings have their own children who will then have their own children. The deep routed cultures brought by the older generations become diluted within the UK and as the decades pass, UK culture will become more alike across people of all races.
Written by @Iffs – www. thoughtsofholmes.wordpress.com