Mixed Matches, Part 1
Dating is hard enough as it is. Would a relationship with someone outside of your race make things even more difficult?
Since dating is often the antithesis of easy, especially when you have 13 hours of homework every night and messy roommates to deal with, who would even think of making it more complicated?
That is often the question that surfaces when the topic of interracial relationships is brought up. I don’t know that they’re morally wrong, people say, but there are more challenges to deal with. It’s definitely harder than dating someone of the same race. Since the question comes up, it is obviously one that worries quite a few people. Are their concerns valid? Let’s break down the issue in black and white. (Gosh, I’m clever. Or nauseating.)
One evening, when I was about 6 years old, I had a striking revelation about my family. I was hanging out with my mom and, for some reason, when I glanced at her I was surprised by what I saw.
“Mom,” I began with interest, “Why is my skin brown, when yours is white and Dad’s is really dark?”
“Well,” she replied. “That’s the way God made you.” She paused for a moment, contemplating the best way to explain genetics to someone who still talked to her dolls. “I guess it’s kind of like when you see me drink coffee,” she continued. “If I have a cup of black coffee, and I add some cream to it, it turns to a light brown. Kind of like the color of your skin.”
I pondered this response for a moment while I stared at my mocha-colored arm. Finally I looked back at her and smiled. I was happy with that answer. I liked my skin, the color of coffee mixed with cream.
So, through my charming little story, you obviously realized that I am the product of an interracial marriage, where my dad is the coffee and my mom is the cream. “Big deal, so what,” you say? Exactly!
Interracial dating, marriage and children are growing trends in the United States. A 2000 Newsweek investigation found that one in 19 children born in America are of mixed race. Lynette Clemetson, “Color My World,” Newsweek, 8 May 2000. Quoted in Webber, Robert E., The Younger Evangelicals. Baker Books, 2002. America is truly becoming a melting pot.
As interracial relationships become more prevalent, one has to wonder why. Is it because our society has finally rid itself of racism? Have we evolved to a higher level of acceptance and understanding? Has our society finally gotten its morals straight? Personally, I’m skeptical of all of those ideas. And besides, even though there is more interracial dating going on, most people I talk to are still concerned with potential discrimination that will result from a mixed-race relationship.
My parents were married in Minnesota in 1977. They promptly moved to a small city in South Dakota to finish their nursing degrees. Since it was a small, Midwestern place — the city’s boasting rights are grounded in its corn palace — my parents may have expected trouble from a few people. But no one cared that they were an interracial couple. People were about as interested in their mixed-race union as cows are in passing cars. And this was almost 30 years ago.
I can personally say that I have not experienced difficulties from anyone because I am bi-racial. Racism obviously still exists in this country — in some places more than others — but many interracial couples are not ostracized. However, one would never know this since the idea that interracial relationships are difficult and opposed is often subtly perpetuated by the media.
If you take a good look, many of the television sitcoms and movies that have portrayed interracial relationships do so in a negative manner.
Most of the time, if a movie has an interracial couple their difficulties are the main focus of the film. Movies such as Save the Last Dance, Guess Who and Jungle Fever all focus on extreme challenges the characters face in their relationships because of their different skin colors. The couples in all of these movies are forced to struggle through societal shunning and cultural differences.
Basically, it may be harder for people with godless, morally undefined worldviews to reject racism as ethically unacceptable. Unfortunately, some people with Christian worldviews often manage to personally justify racist attitudes as well.
Copyright 2012 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Denise Morris Snyder is an associate pastor at CrossRoads Church in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. She previously worked as an editor for Focus on the Family and a writer for David C Cook. She has her Master’s in Old Testament Biblical Studies from Denver Seminary. Denise got married to a Canadian this past summer, which means she is now freezing in Canada. Send BBQ chips to warm her.