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Peter and Mary's Story -- Mary's View

Peter and Mary's Story -- Peter's View

Dom & Tina - Tina's View

Preparing For a Life of Being "Us"

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Dom & Tina - Dom's View

Tina and I worked at the same D.C. metro area company. A couple of young computer geeks, we were introduced by a mutual friend who thought it a good idea to get the young folks at the company (most of our co-workers were significantly older than we were) to get to know one another. Purely a business type friendship mind you, no hanky-panky. Of course that changed once we began to realize that we had a lot more in common than just being savvy with a keyboard.

At 4'11" and eternally upbeat, well read and professional (and pretty damn cute to boot), Tina was a dynamo. She juggled a demanding work schedule, school, and her son. I was in awe of her. Both of us shared a love of books, of opera and the blues, a strong work ethic and sense of familial duty. Both of us sought out challenges in life, to push the envelope of our professional and academic careers. Underneath it all we reocgnized that we were more alike than different. White man and black woman. Unrepentant atheist and devout Christian. Italian and American. The differences were obvious. But it was obvious, too, that in overcoming these differences and in forging a strong and nurturing relationship we pretty much are (and I'm going to brag here) what America is all about.

I'm a second-generation Italian raised in a household immersed in the ways of the Old Country. My parents had raised me to believe that while no one race is better than the others (trash knows no color), interracial dating/marriage was taboo because the children of such a union would be "confused" about their identity (deliciously ironic considering the Italian people are nothing if not the product of centuries of inter-marriage). I grew up believing that this was simply a fact of life so it wasn't until I found myself in a mixed relationship with a woman of mixed descent (Black /Cherokee) with a mixed child that I had to seriously question some of the truisms of my youth.

Needless to say, my family did not react well. Well, let me rephrase that. My FATHER did not react well. In fact, we haven't spoken to one another for almost three years. My grandmother and sister have been quite supportive; my mother has been caught in the middle -- wanting what's best for her son but also trying to be supportive of her husband. I do not envy her. I have reconciled to myself that this is the way things are to be. I cannot be expected to jettison a relationship that I have worked hard for simply because someone (even if it is my father) doesn't approve. I'm 30 years old: too old to be "rebelling", too cynical to be politically correct, too proud to feel ashamed of my "whiteness" (whatever in the hell that is), and too pig-headed to cave-in to anyone's dictates. Quite simply, I'm with Tina because I love her. I don't need to justify anything.

My friends have been supportive, or at least no more inquisitive regarding Tina than they've been with any other woman. There has been some friction at times but most of that has related to inter-personal squabbles to things unrelated to race. I think there is a knee-jerk reaction of most folks involved in interracial relationships to frame quarrels between friends as having the race of one's partner at the root of the problem; the reality is that, among close friends, its usually because someone is acting like a jerk. All one can ask of friends is their respect, and if one cannot have that respect than he need not that person as a friend. I have lost no friends over my decision to be with Tina; in fact I have gained several. Of course it helps if you're friends are a bit worldly and educated, and not a bunch of tooth-sucking sod-farmers from Alabama.

Tina and I have had our squabbles like any other couple. We vacation like any other couple. We watch TV and cook and read and work like any other couple. For someone to make a judgement about us simply by giving a cursory glance at the color of our skin is sheer stupidity. Race hustlers, politicians, "cultural" pundits get a lot of mileage by playing up the race issue. Does racism still exist? Sure it does. But for every racist there are a hundred people who look beyond the superficial and into the soul. They discover that at the core, they are all pretty much the same. We all want good jobs, nice homes, and good schools. Tina and I want those things. Together. And to hell with the critics.

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