Do Interracial Relationships Have Extra Hurdles?

7 Recently, a commenter here wrote that some parents may oppose interracial relationships due to a fear that their adult child will have it rough.

There are no inherent obstacles to being with someone whose physical features don’t closely match your own. That means the “extra obstacles” people are referring to are those that may be caused by people the couple come in contact with who hold less enlightened views about relationships between people of different phenotypes.

First, I think in this day and age many areas of the U.S. and many other countries, it’s an exaggeration to say that it’s inevitable to experience serious problems from others over being in an interracial relationship. I haven’t found that to be the case, and I know many others in interracial relationships who would say the same.

Second, I’m aware that on virtually any topic one can think of, there are individuals out there in the world who may hold very ignorant views on it.  I just choose not to allow such people or their views to contaminate my world. I refuse to permit the lowest common denominator in society (the unrepentantly ignorant) to influence my life decisions, including one as important as who I will spend the rest of my life with.

A relationship is between the two members of a couple. Therefore, it’s the couple that  ultimately decides what will or won’t affect their relationship. What is a hurdle for a couple is usually only what one or both members of the couple choose(s) to allow to be a hurdle between them. If they both have the attitude that they’ll put their relationship or marriage first, stay together come what may, face issues and surmount them together, and so on, I find that the problems they do face seem small. Also, the process of successfully overcoming these obstacles together tends to strengthen the relationship and makes it even easier for the couple to triumph over future obstacles jointly.

vlfringes-vlisco-fashion-2 My hubby’s parents actually told him growing up that he’d be completely disowned if he married interracially LOL. It’s funny, because I have trouble even picturing those words coming out of their mouths. His parents fell in love with me as soon as they met me, and embraced me as part of their family. I know it sounds too good to be true, but it  really was almost that simple. After meeting me for the first time, my guy’s father has since spoken appreciatively to him about how sweet and soft-spoken I am. He says no one better bother me if they don’t want trouble with him (he’s very macho…LOL). Everything wasn’t completely smooth sailing, however. Around three years ago, when his mother fully grasped how serious our relationship was, she started to feel threatened. I can’t get into my business, but suffice it to say that it was clear that both jealousy and my color played a role in how she acted out. Yet my fiancé standing by me, and making it clear that I would always be a part of his life nipped the problem in the bud. Of course, his father’s adoration and support didn’t hurt. Things have gone back to the way they were before, with my mother-in-law being friendly, kind and supportive once again.

In my case it worked out, but I’m definitely not necessarily suggesting anyone follow my example and get involved with someone whose parents seemed to have serious issues with interracial dating. Ideally,  that’s something you don’t want if you don’t want if you can avoid it. My guy didn’t tell me about his parents’ thoughts before we’d developed very strong feelings for each other. I think he may have assumed he’d abide by their warnings, but…he knew a good thing when he saw it and couldn’t pass it up. ;-)

Anyway, no relationship is obstacle-free. Some clashing between a family member or two and a partner or spouse are common. Sometimes it’s reconcilable and other times it’s not. I think the issue of color should also be kept in this perspective. Physical features are just that and aren’t an issue if people don’t make it into one.  If a set of parents chooses to make it an issue, it may be tempting for the partner who feels targeted to draw from the “racial baggage” when feeling that others are prejudging on that basis. However, more progress will be made if you can manage to avoid that. Try not to feel defensive and lash out or withdraw. Instead, reach out and get to know the parents and let them get to know you as an individual. Connect with them from one human being to another. As you grow closer and more comfortable with them,  then you may share information with them that they may have been misinformed or unknowledgeable about.

As for parents who don’t want to support their adult child’s interracial relationship due to fearing they’ll have extra hurdles: if you think the couple may have extra problems for some reason, that should be an incentive to be more supportive – not create an additional hurdle by being less supportive. If the child is “in love with,” say, a deadbeat or an abuser, it would only make sense for you as their parent to oppose and discourage the relationship. However, discouraging a relationship with a good person who happens to not share their phenotype doesn’t make much sense to me. The parent can be realistic and make sure their adult child is too – while making it clear that they love and will support them regardless.

Thanks to the male half of the beautiful couple featured above for sending me your lovely photos!

About Velour

I am a young woman who's Caribbean by heritage and American by birth. I'm married to a white man, whom I met during my teens. We've been together for nearly a decade. I have some female relatives and friends who are also married interracially. I share my experiences and thoughts in order to encourage and support other black women who are in interracial relationships or considering the possibility, and men who are interested in or in interracial relationships with black women.