10.09.2008

Ice cream



The first time I ever heard someone describe me and Max as an "interracial couple," I stood up a little straighter in a moment of surprise. Of course, I knew that Max's pigment was darker than mine--sort of the color of Häagen Daz 's Cappuccino Commotion ice cream with a hint of cinnamon, while mine was more like your run-of-the-mill vanilla--but, in truth, I had never thought of us as different from one another.

Perhaps this is because, to me, our similarities have always stood out far more than our differences. The essence of who we are as individuals-- our attitudes toward important issues, world views, priorities, interests, likes, and dislikes--are, fundamentally, the same. Almost from the moment we met, it felt as if Max and I were one. And I suppose it surprised me to realize this oneness didn't radiate outward so as to be evident to strangers.

The man who first called us out as "interracial," wasn't doing so in a derogatory manner. To the contrary, he, an African-American, and his Latina wife spotted us in a line of people waiting to go on a four-wheeling excursion in Grand Cayman. And because we were the only other interracial couple, the pair decided Max and I would make suitable companions for the duration of the tour. It was an odd feeling to be singled out for such a reason, but I think it made them feel more comfortable. And regardless of the whos and whys, we enjoyed a lovely day and made new friends.

However, their obvious wariness toward same-race couples reminded me of a conversation I had twenty-five years earlier, when I was just a teen. At the time, I had caught the attention of a young man, who happened to be black. My parents liked my friend immensely, but father discouraged me from dating him because he worried about the reaction of other people. Dad said that while he didn't oppose interracial couples, many other people did. As a result, life for those in mixed marriages was so much harder. And while the conversation didn't completely stop me, it did give me pause for thought. I grew up believing that there was a built-in barrier, an inherent complication, for interracial couples,making life more like an uphill battle.

It's funny how life turns out, isn't it? Little did dad or I know back then, but years later I would be introducing an Egyptian man into our family. And despite initial concerns and reservations, my parents ended up loving the man I chose almost as much as I did.

Also, as it turned out, my father's perceptions about interracial couples weren't so black and white after all--at least not for me and Max. Perhaps it is a sign of the times, but we have never once felt stigmatized because of our relationship. We've never even observed a sideways glance in our direction. Day to day, our marriage is far from an up-hill battle. Instead, we cruise along on a nice, even slope.

Even though Max and I come from different races, cultures, and religions, our life has not been soured. It's been oh so sweet--like a vanilla and cappuccino ice cream sundae with extra whipped cream and a cherry on top.

13 comments:

Cheryl said...

Aw. Love this post!

Alice said...

Great posting!

As I read it, it said ice cream but then there's a pic of you two drinking and I thought, huh?

Excellent analogy - and miss you guys!

swenglishexpat said...

Diane, you could not be more right. A person is a person irrespective of colour, creed etc. Deep thoughts, great words!

American in Norway said...

I totally agree... Although Bjørn & I look almost like brother & sister, we still come from different cultures...some times it has caused minor problems but I wouldn't change it for the world...

kissashark said...

If only everyone saw it this way! My father was born and raised in Germany and as a child I never ever recall any conversations about where people were from or their skin color, but once we moved down south I relaized not everyone holds those same values.
Great post!

G in Berlin said...

Diane, I think it's wonderful that you and Max have felt this way and had no negative experiences. But one of my closest friends in NY is a white woman married to an Iranian man and she has felt much discrimination. So much so that they use her last name in general, rather than his. To be fair, the discrimination was in the Midwest, where they moved from,but it's real. And it certainly isn't personal, because like you and Max, they are warm and wonderful and very friendly.
But perhaps that discrimination is rather against a Midde Eastern man than against an inter-racial couple?

meno said...

Interesting what your dad said, about its being harder to be an interracial couple.

I wonder if that's even true. And i can't wait until a time when no one even notices.

A Touch of Dutch said...

I agree! Excellent analogy ;-) A great post, Diane!

Connie said...

Beautiful story! I was lucky to have been born in raised in a mixed race/cultural area (big city in Florida). It was normal. True, bias and prejudice happened, but no more than any other form of human orneriness. It wasn't until I was an adult and traveled that I met people who thought segregation was 'normal'... not negative segregation, simply, no mixing.

I'm glad that my kids are growing up in an international community.

Andrea said...

I think you guys make a super cute couple and not because you look differnt simply because you're a cute couple.
I come from a very 'white' town and when I moved to Philly at 18 it was a bit weird to sometimes be the minority among the melting pot of cultures.
After awhile I found myself going, 'Oh you're black!' 'You're from Pakistan!' in my head like it was a shock- I had never noticed it really among my friends in college. They were just Dara and Sarah and people I thought were cool :) No labels just people.
Now having an interracial family via my little Taiwainese daughter - I do find that I get looks (especially here where Americans adopting Chinese girls isn't common) As I ate lunch with my husband at his office (full of TONS of people from all over the world) with my dd sitting next to us, a co-worker came up and asked, where's her mom from?
With me right there (was I supposed to be the nanny? which I have gotten several times actually). That was an interesting moment. When I look at my daughter I just see Chickadee, not her beautiful Han Chinese eyes or her olive skin, just Chick.

I wish everyone could see it the way you do!

patches said...

Excellent post! I think some geographical areas are more accepting than others. I have never understood the desire some people have to constantly point out racial or cultural differences in a negative fashion.

Fundamentally, all of humanity, lives, loves, and suffers loss.

I'm glad you and Max have found each other, and hope you share many great years as a couple.

TamWill said...

Great post and lovely pic Diane!

Jill said...

This was such a great post - I've been thinking about it for a few days. It really bothers me how people first look at race, ethnicity, color before they look at a person. I see it all the time - especially here where everyone stares at the "white" girl.

You and Max are a gorgeous couple - regardless of your racial differences - which by the way, I didn't notice. My first thought when I saw the first photo of you guys was, "what a cute dog!"