Biracial Portraits

Multiracial/Interracial Relationships

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Dear FRONTLINE,
Marriage is such a challenge in general that I would be hard pressed to say that an inter-racial marriage is any more difficult. The challenges are different and not being prepared for them is the issue. The thing I would say is that for the person who is not used to dealing with racism or rejection, they will have the biggest adjustment to make.

Marriage is all about coming togther as two separate people to become one. While race in America is one of the thorniest issues because of our history, there are other "differences" which require the same compassion and sensitivity in order to overcome. The same good principles work in an inter-racial marriage as work in any marriage.

I believe that one of America's solutions will be the sons and daughters of healthy mixed marriages. They will have the unique perspective of having seen both sides as human beings. They will be able to stand on either side of the divide and relate to the people on each side in some way. They will identify with either side in someway and will not feel as strange about walking on either side.

The challenge for the parents of mixed children is to build their sense ofthemselves so that they can be healthy emotionally and feel good about who theyare. With that they will handle themselves as mature, secure individuals. But doesn't that ring true for all children? That is any parent's job.
Stephen Peele
Cincinnati, Ohio


Dear FRONTLINE,
THANK YOU PBS!! Multicultural life is usually addressed on TV by the trashy talk shows that speak of the horrors. I have found that my life does not resemble anything I have ever seen on these shows. They are vile and offensive to people that live life on the race line.

I am a white woman married to a black man. We have two beautiful, healthy children and a solid marriage. My own heritage is mixed in that my father is from an old American family with some notable ancestors. My mother is of Russian Jewish decent. My husband's family is as well mixed, in that his family is divided with some being southern baptists, and his father being islamic. My father is a right wing conservative and my father-in-law is a militant black activist. Our two worlds could not be more different, politically or religiously. Yet, we are loved. Our families respect each other, they both respect our marriage, and most importantly, they both cherish our children.

I know I am fortunate to have a supportive situation, but I fail to see why race should have anything to do with it. Many people assume that since my family is bi-racial, I am the exception for having a solid family life. This is a misconception. I think when people talk of the family fueds, of the problems, they would exist even if race wasn't inplay. In short-many people have hard childhood, bad family relations, and other unhealthy situations, EVEN WHEN RACE ISN'T AN ISSUE, so why should multicultural families be any different? We all have problems, but when it happens in a multicultural family, race is always to blame.

We are, above all, human. Not black, not white. My African-Scotish-Italian-Russian-Catholic-Jewish-Baptist- Islamic children will have their problems and issues, I am sure, but they will be no different than the problems of the Black child, or White child, up the street. They know who they are and they know they are special.
Michele Burnside Pettes
Austin Texas


Dear FRONTLINE,
Well done. We are a mixed racal couple raising our 7 children of assorted colorsand appearences. Some people think we adopted, some think the mother is a nanny,some agencies even questioned the legitimacy of our birth records! The kids have to deal with the color comments in school, but we explain things at home, and everything seems to be working out OK, especially since there is a growing Hispanic presence in our area now.
F. and D. P.


Dear FRONTLINE,
Multiracial Relationships. I think they are fine, as long as both members understand the consequences of their decision. This is a big revelation for me, considering I am a Black man born and raised in the south during the Civil Rights Era.
G. Vaughner


Dear FRONTLINE,
I personally have nothing against such liasons or against the offspring of such unions. I also believe that those blacks who shun mixed race couples and children are the exception rather than the rule in black America. When I was younger, mixed race women, we called them redbones, were very desireable to me. I believed that they inherited a biological trait called "hybrid vigor" as a result of their mixe parentage. Today, I know that this phenomenon occurs in plants and animals, but no in Homo sapiens sapiens.

As a student of anthropology, I am studying this move in the scientific community to abandon the term "race" to describe human diversity. For example, variation within African American populations is so great that there are blacks who can easily pass for white, yet they are thought of as black through reminants of the "one drop rule" whereby at least one recent ancestor was of African origin. So, children of black-white pairings are considered to be black in this country.
Rodney A. Nicholas
Philadelphia, Penna


Dear FRONTLINE,
There's no such thing as an interracial relationship, when there is only one race of human. It's not like the human species is made up of multiple races. We differs only by the amount of melanin in our skin. The conflict is more cultural, and prejudice being the root cause. It is strange to me that the people said a melanin deprived person is "fair skinned", so a person not deprived of melanin is "unfair skinned". Where is the line or boundary that you cross from "unfair into fair skin". So, you see the problem is not with race per se, it's with fair and unfair skinned people.
George Aaron Jones
Lakewood, CA


Dear FRONTLINE,
I dated a black boy in high school, and neither of us went to our respective senior proms because we were afraid of being scorned or attacked. This was in 1976 in upstate New York, so we are not talking about fifties and deep south, here. We broke up after I went to college, but I still miss him sometimes. We shared a lov of photography and an interest in poetry, among other things.
NPG
Fayetteville AR


Dear FRONTLINE,
Enjoyed "Secret Daughter", although I agree with the NY Times, I think which said it was a little longer than it needed to be. As a black man in an intragender, interracial relationship, even I still have a reaction sometimes to seeing other interracial couples (same sex or opposite). I'm still dealing with society's baggage that says there's something unnatural about such relationships, while wanting to embody an openness of mind that encourages us to tear down the wal between us? I hope that my reaction to other interracial couples is not some transference of self-loathing (a little stronger term than I'm seeking) onto others.
C.T.
Richmond, Va.


Dear FRONTLINE,
Currently, I am in an interracial relationship. I am a single, black woman and he is a divorced, white man who has three young daughters. (For the sake of confidentiality, I will call him Joe.) Our relationship has blossomed and despite my own reservations about the viability of the ‘long-term, Joe and the children have make plans for me in their lives. I have a wonderful rapport with the girls and treasure them. Our frequent outings as a 'family' are often met with curious stares, but (so far) have encountered no hostility. I feel that in Northern Virginia the stares would be a little less frequent than in Montgomery County, and certainly a world away from the open resentment and confrontation that visits to D.C. would bring.

In an effort to better understand our situation and my role in it, I continue to research resources on both interracial relationships and parenting/step-parenting. PBS programs like Secret Daughter and The Lovings help individuals like me better understand our interracial relationships, but more importantly these programs educate American society at large. The race issue in America continues to pervade daily life. For a person of color, almost every waking moment is touched by the circumstance of ethnicity. For each new experience, we carefully review an event/response checklist. We evaluate the reactions of people around us, we compare each sensory perception against our knowledge banks, and we steel ourselves for negative or invasive reactions to the fact of our existence. In passing on the street, we may be ignored or shunned by white colleagues or friends, who at a glance, recoil at seeing the black skin until they realize who is in that skin. We have learned to deal with the subtle rejections.

June Cross story was rich with history and documentation, and presented an emotional and heartwrenching study of both race and a mother/daughter relationship.I thank PBS for bringing Secret Daughter to the viewers and I thank June Cross and her mother for their courage and resolve at sharing their story.
C.N.


Dear FRONTLINE:
Thank you for a compelling broadcast. I have to wonder: Are interracial relationships ever successful, really? The pressure on such a couple must be enormous, constant, and perhaps as great today as 30 or 40 years ago. Is it truly possible for a love to be so pure that it never requires any support from society at large? Perhaps society is different in the northern or western states. I would like to think so, but I am not hopeful. No matter how accepting a particular social circle can be, there is always that tension among strangers, and there are always strangers. How do these couples survive? Can these relationships work?
K.S.
Hazard, KY


Dear FRONTLINE:
I have two daughters who are intelligent and beautiful African American young girls. I want them to live at a comfortable economic level, but as for their choice of mate it makes no difference to me. As long as their mate loves them and does not mistreat them, I could care less about race. Inside my house they would always be loved and welcomed. In fact, I have several interracial couples as friends and see no reason to even consider their race in deciding how I treat or feel towards them. The reality is that America sees in Black/White; white america needs to come to grips with the fact that they cannot always be on top and should not want to be. Peel of the skin and we are the same. I just hope that this country wakes up in my life time.
Bill


Dear FRONTLINE:
First of all I must commend June on a program well worth watching. I have a son who is mixed-raced (myself-black, his mother english). After we were married and returned to the states his grandmother, realized the different attitudes that were in American and persuaded my wife to take our son back to England to be raised. When they left he was only 2 years old. I have never seen him sense, just pictures, every now and then. I often wonder, what his life is like and what he is thinking about the black father he has never known. I really do miss him and plan to travel there in March of next year for two weeks to try and located him and his mother. After watching the program, I cried, because I could really relate in some way, with June.
Mitchell
Raleigh, NC


Dear FRONTLINE:
This program was very interesting to say the least. I am in an interracial marriage and have been for the past 14 years. Must husband and I have two children Eric nine years and Erica 15 months. We recently moved here from Anchorage, Alaska. Although my husband and I were both born in the south (he in South Carolina and me in Mississippi) our relationship has not always centered around race. We have the same issues to address as other couples, with an added twist. We have been teaching my son (and will do so with his sister as well) about both sides of his heritage for as long as I can remember, for the most part because we feel it is our duty to do so. While reviewing, "The Secret Daughter....," program my husband and I thought this encouraged another of our lively debates. While we could understand alot of the what the mother was going through in that day and time, we feel the opposite is true in our lives.

Although I must admit all the things that concerned June's mother are not thoughts that can June's mother lived in a world that was and in some cases still not accepting of interracial relationships. June's mother had no support system. The relationship she had with June's father was not even supportive. I have relatives that do not like our relationship but I always tell them and anyone who disagrees with our lifestyle that , "...They didn't ask my permission when they decided to marry so why in the world should I seek out their opinions regarding my choice of a soul mate? To be quite honest with you I think it was probably the best thing her mother could have done when she gave her to the black family in Atlantic, because as June said herself, she probably would have been messed up had her real mother raised her.

There are many people who wonder about what the kids will go through. Those are honest concerns, however, my belief is that it is I who must educate my child as to the ways of the world. We tell my son that there will be people who don't like him because his mother is black, his father is white and vice versa. I also tell him that they won't like him because he's not cute enough, skinny enough, fast enough, etc. In essence we let him know that there will always be someone who will not like you for some reason or another and that it is not always tide to race. We also told him that people don't have to like him and he does not have to like them either. Hell, if we all liked each other and the same things in life this truly would be a boring world. We have informed him that everyone has choices and with those choices come consequences.
A Viewer


Dear FRONTLINE:
I AM TOUCHED BY THE DOCUMENTARY AND THE PARTICULAR PERSON. MY NIECE IS OF PUERTO RICAN AND AFRICAN AMERICAN HERITAGE. I HAVE OFTEN WONDERED HOW SHE FEELS. I SEE NO DIFFERENCE FROM MY OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS, BUT THE PROGRAM MAKES ME WONDER, DOES SHE?
L. Crespo


Dear FRONTLINE:
Interracial love....why not? what's so bad about dating outside your race? it only becomes comdemnableif it is done to "whiten"or purify a race...relationships between people should never depend on such superficial elements as the color of one's skin....
rafael
Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico


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