I am a 19 year old African American woman, so I have many prying, or curious, friends and family that want to know all about my dating and college life. When they ask me who I am dating, their ears immediately perk up to the sound of his Hispanic last name when I state his name, and I immediately notice the surprised look on their face. They expect me to be dating an African American man and are taken aback when I state otherwise. This is something that I have grown use to this last year with my boyfriend.
The school I attend, The University of Texas at Dallas, is very diverse but has a small Hispanic and African-American population. The only affiliation my boyfriend and I had in common, and how we met, was through Greek life. We both had joined historically white Greek organizations—that being said, our organizations are very diverse because of the diversity of our school.
I am one of three African American women in my sorority, and he is one of four Hispanics in his fraternity. There are historically black organization and historically Hispanic one, too. I am sure they are friendly to each other, but outside of Greek life I do not notice many Hispanics and blacks with relationships as close. That could just be because there are so few of us compared to other races.
Because we are at such a diverse college with a small Greek life, on campus we have not really encountered any huge confrontation or uproar due to our relatiomship. Most of the time we even forget our relationship is considered abnormal. A big part of the reactions we get are from when we step off of campus to go to the mall or a restaurant.
Of course there is all of the staring when we hold hands in public, and the approving nods and smiles from strangers as they pass as if to tell us that they are also forward thinking citizens of US. Sometimes I get the occasional black guy that will give me a dirty look as if I am trying may hardest to offend him and every other black man in the area, which I am not. But overall I have found most of it to be nothing but positivity.
Of course it comes with so many uncomfortable and probing questions like “Do you not like black guys?” I have no problem with black guys, but I just so happened to have fallen in love with a Hispanic guy.
“How do your parents feel about it?” My parents have told me that they just wanted me to be happy, and if I was, they were. His parents felt the same way. Both pairs were surprised at first, but have been warm to each of us.
Another topic that always seems to come up is our future children. “Your children will look so adorable; mixed babies always are!” Although we do not see kids anywhere in our near future, sometimes we do think of what they would look like. They make it sound like I am dating him just for a mixed kid. I never understood this, because I cannot even think about procreating with someone I did not love. As a mother, I know that whatever my kids look like, I will think they are the cutest kids on the planet. So, I am in the relationship for him, not for their looks.
That being said, there are things that I do slightly worry about the future. Will my daughter have a quinceañera? How would I pull it off? Will I be able to make things like tamales perfectly or semi-good? What other traditions and holidays would I learn by messing up? These are some of all the different things I wonder, but, luckily, I have a man kind enough and patient enough to help and teach me along the way. As a romantic, I feel that everything will work out.
We both come from different cultures, but I believe it makes our relationship stronger and balanced. I have learned so much! He has taught me how to salsa and much of the Mexican culture as I have taught him mine. And although we have different cultures, we share some of the same core values: family, our faith, and hard work.
Two people that are so different can still be so similar. Although we cannot be completely similar, respect and being aware of sensitive topics that we might not agree on help smooth any disagreements that may happen. But is not this the same with all relationships?
Going into an interracial relationship, I wish I would have known how easy it was. I had heard so many horror ‘meet the parent’ stories that I had braced myself for the worst. I had expected so many differences between us to show up later in the relationships but that has not happened.
My boyfriend has been nothing loving and caring, and we both express mutual curiosity for each other’s backgrounds. Interracial relationships circle around learning; you get the opportunity to dig deeper and deeper into the traditions of someone else. All of the stares from strangers are worth being with the one you love.
If there is only one thing you take from this article, I want it to be this: being in an interracial relationship is the same as being in one with someone of your own race. Like every relationship, two people that love each other are trying to be more and more connected. The only difference is how others see you, but you are in a relationship with your significant other, not them.