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The following Featured Post comes from a test Dialogue Group.

1. Racism in the family
Fri, Aug 20, 1999 - 6:55 PM/EST
jeanne

Hi, gang - I've never participated in something like this, so please bear with me...

Here's the dilemma I'm facing: My boyfriend (of 2 years) is black, and I am white. That isn't really MY dilemma, but it seems to be one for my 70-something parents. MY dilemma is that their reactions to this relationship utterly stunned me (and continue to stun me). I understand they are from a different era (I am 37 years old, by the way), of a different mindset, etc., but I am completely baffled that we could hold such absolutely opposite points-of-view on this matter. My parents (who have never even met my boyfriend) and I have discussed the issue (albeit my mother simply cries), and it is clear that neither of us will waver in our beliefs. I believe they are wrong, and they believe I am wrong. On the surface, I'm o.k. with this and can rationalize my way to peace with it. But really, it sickens me, and I'm having a tough time understanding how we come from the same gene pool.

2. response to Jeanne
Sat, Aug 21, 1999 - 3:07 PM/EST
robin

Several years ago I went through a similar experience as you are going through now. Our ages and our parents ages are very close, so I understand exactly where you're coming from.

What you have to think about is: Where are you planning on going with this relationship? Is this a relationship that will proceed to marriage? If it is, and it is so distasteful to your parents, is it really worth alienating them from your life, possibly forever? Are you planning to have children with this man and if so, how do you think your parents will react to the grandchildren? Also how does HIS family treat you?

Obviously your mother has some strong issues with this relationship. People from her era have a difficult time accepting these types of relationships and I doubt if she would be able to change at this late date in her life.

Do you think that you might be causing your parents undue stress with your involvement with your current boyfriend? My parents met my boyfriend and when they did, I could see them visibly cringe at the sight of him. It was such an alien thought to them, that I could be involved with someone from a different race. I honestly don't think they were ever the same! Although that relationship didn't work (much to their relief, I'm sure)I did meet and marry a man of hispanic origin. They were more accepting of him than the black man that I was previously involved with. Haven't quite got that figured out yet!!

3. I feel your pain...
Sat, Aug 21, 1999 - 3:21 PM/EST
misslynx

My father, who is less than open to the idea of interracial relationships, is meeting my White boyfriend tonight for the first time. The important thing to remember is that their hang ups have nothing to do with you. My parents and I have come to a tentative understanding, and it looks like things will go well tonight. If they don't...well...expect another posting. ;-)

4. Response to Jeanne - interracial relationship
Sun, Aug 22, 1999 - 1:05 AM/EST
cett

Jeanne... I have had a relationship with a black man in the past, several years ago, and I myself am white. In my case, it wasn't traumatic because I've never been particularly concerned with my family's viewpoint on my relationships. Not that I don't love my family, but my love life concerns me and my most personal thoughts and emotions... so I can't really say that I can totally feel what you're feeling... however, here's some input that might help (I hope)..

Have you ever sat down with your folks and peacefully spoken about your personal needs and desires in a relationship? Can you explain to them that, regardless of color, this is a human being who treats you well, who understands you and is by your side? Would they rather see you with a white man who abuses you? Or someone of a yet different ethnic background who, for example, may not be showing any interest in family relationships, thus alienating you from your background? What matters is how your partner treats you, how your partner stands by you, how your partner understands and tolerates every situation in your life.. including your family and the "ties that bind". Can you tell your parents in a peaceful, relaxed, and loving atmosphere, that your feelings for them won't change by integrating another culture into your life, and that this man who stands by you is not black or white, but just a human soul?

Some humans have black skin; some have yellow, red, or white skin... some humans have pimples, others have none... some are tall, others are short... it's all just the package. Would your parents throw away a gift they received, the content of which they really love, just because they don't like the paper it was wrapped in?
Hope this might help a little bit.
Sue

5. Moving on...
Sun, Aug 22, 1999 - 4:45 PM/EST
jeanne

First of all, thanks to Robin, Sharmin, and Sue!

I'm really not too concerned about my parents anymore. They are, I think, typical and generally inactive racists. By that I mean they would never object to having a non-white friend, co-worker, etc., and they are as appalled as any other "normal" human being by hate crimes they see in the news. They just don't want their daughter sleeping with a black man. It kind of makes me laugh now - maybe because I've realized that's all I can do.

For 2 years I kept their feelings from Mark (my boyfriend) because I kept hoping they would "come around." We (my parents and I) have discussed the issue repeatedly, and it's always been rationally and lovingly done. We simply don't have a meeting of the minds over this, and I'm o.k. with that. I've never pushed them and I don't plan to.

Actually, I LET my parents' feelings affect Mark and me. I was so ashamed of them yet so hopeful they'd change their minds that I kept all of it secret from Mark. That was the worst. It felt like I was lying to him, all the time.

A couple of months ago, I asked my parents to speculate about whether they EVER could accept Mark, and the answer was no. So, I finally told Mark about it, and he, sadly, was unshaken. (I say "sadly" because it IS sad that someone in this country can become so accustomed to bigotry that he is unshaken by constant reminders of it.) Anyway, now that I'm not keeping anything from Mark, I don't feel too affected by my parents' racism. I mean, I know it's still there, but at least now I can make fun of the stupid things they say with my best friend - Mark.

I wonder, though, what kind of effect this might have down the line. I like to think that as long as Mark and I keep communicating honestly that we can overcome any obstacle, but I wonder if that's too simplistic. I really have no idea what's out there, but enough about ME. :-) Thanks for all your shoulders!

6. to jeanne
Mon, Aug 23, 1999 - 2:58 PM/EST
del

Hi everyone,

You have the right attitude. I'm going through the same thing with Mark's (my boyfriend's name too!!) family. (He's white) and they refuse to meet with me. I used to think that it was something about me but it is wasn't.

I don't know if they (your parents/Mark's parents) will ever come around but I think that you have to cherish what you have with Mark.
It is nice to find someone who treats you with love and respect.

Cheers,

del

7. Good for you Jeanne!
Mon, Aug 23, 1999 - 7:32 PM/EST
robin

Hi Jeanne - I'm glad to see that you have such a good handle on your relationship with Mark. I hope everything works out for both of you and your families. I'll keep you in my prayers! No one ever said interracial relationships are easy; those of us who have been, or are involved, in them are the ones who truly understand what they're all about. There are wonderful, loving, caring individuals in all races and when you find that special person it shouldn't matter what their ethnic orgins are! (Of course, that's if we lived in a perfect world....... ;-)

8. Parents
Mon, Aug 23, 1999 - 8:26 PM/EST
suzannejan

Hi, this is the distaff side of the conversation. I am the parent of a daughter who was married to a member of another race. When she first broght her young man home, we weren't horrified, we had never raised her to look at peoples skin. However, we were concerned because we knew how the majority people respond to inter-racial marriages. When we were sure that she could handle whatever came and that she really loved him. We sat down as a family and had a long, frank talk, gave them our love and support. They are now divorced. It lasted 7 years, it broke up not because of race, but spousal abuse. His family is lovely, and still consider my daughter as family. I can't say the same about him, the first time I heard the verbal abuse and witnessed the slow-------quiet way, he tried to destroy her relationships with her friends(of all races), and her family, I admit I turned him off as a person. He called me at work one day and told me my daughter had never amounted to a "pile of ----" before she met him. He left the marriage with a new house, most of the furniture she owned before marrying him and a new car. Oh, Yes and the rings! Do I blame race, no, he would be an SOG if he was green with pink stripes. Will I be more giving to her next relationship or trusting, I don't think so.

9. Cultural Differences
Mon, Aug 23, 1999 - 8:30 PM/EST
qazem

One of the other comments refered to a persons age as a factor in racism. I find that to be true. Many times older folk were raised to "stick with your own kind" and that becomes ingrained into their make-up. I think it's wrong to try to change older peoples attitudes. Focus should instead be placed on the under 50 age groups. Realistically speaking the young generation can perpetuate bigoted attitudes unless we work to not focus on the persons color or ethnicity but on the character of the individual.

When an injustice is perpetrate within the confines of a relationship one of the first words out of the mouth is a reference to the persons race. When the children hear this garbage they become confused. As they grow older society forces them to choose an ethnic identity. Love is not dependant upon race but more upon attraction to a personality type as well as physical preferences. Be that as it may one still has to be aware that the culture one grows up in will have an effect on the relationship whether you embrace or reject it publicly. What is important is how you realy feel in the recesses of your soul because it will eventually manifest itself.

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