Why I’m tired of hearing “you’ll have a hard life” about interracial relationships

Not long ago, a white friend of mine moved back to America with her Chinese husband. They were happy with their decision to return to America, but it also meant living with her parents for a period of time. Which wasn’t easy…and lead to some uncomfortable conversations. She confessed that her mother (who she said wasn’t the most pleasant person to begin with) wasn’t thrilled that she hadn’t chosen an “easier life.”

In other words, the fact that this friend had chosen to marry a Chinese man – instead of, say, one of the white guys she used to date at university.

Ugh. I shuddered just thinking about it.

Obviously, her mom is not the supportive type. But the thing is, “you’ll have a hard life” (and all of its many variations) is something that many interracial/intercultural couples have to hear. Loving versus Virginia may have paved the way for legal interracial marriage in the US, but it sure didn’t stop people from telling you how “tough” it’s going to be.

Here’s why I’m tired of hearing this:

1. So what if it’s “tough”?


Given the fact that interracial coupling was illegal for a really long time in the US (and, I would imagine, many other countries around the world), there’s no doubt that we’ve had to fight for the right to love who we want to.

Even now, we’re still fighting. From white supremacist hate groups who would frown upon my marriage to the continued discrimination against people of color (including people like my husband), it’s not always an easy ride when you date and marry differently.

Yeah, we get it. It can be tough. So what?

There will always be haters when you’re dating or marrying outside the box. It’s part of the package deal – and believe me, we already know.

2. It can be racist

(photo by Loving Earth via Flickr.com)
(photo by Loving Earth via Flickr.com)

Okay, I know that’s a loaded statement (I suppose anything becomes a loaded statement when you throw in the “R” word). But think about it. If you’re wishing that your white daughter didn’t marry outside of her race (and, for that matter, culture and country), that’s like saying that she should only date and marry white guys. Because, after all, life is so much easier when you’ve got the full benefit of white privilege, right? (Never mind that white privilege IS the problem, folks.)

Yeah, SO not cool.

3. Marrying within your race doesn’t guarantee an easy life

Just because you're white and you marry a white guy does not mean you're going to become the next picture-perfect William and Kate (Photo by geraldstolk via Flickr.com)
Just because you’re white and you marry a white guy does not mean you’re going to become the next picture-perfect William and Kate (Photo by geraldstolk via Flickr.com)

I grew up in a mostly white suburb of Cleveland, which exposed me to ALL kinds of white folks – and taught me that there are plenty of losers, scumbags and lunatics within my own race.

I know that marrying white doesn’t guarantee you some romantic Prince Charming who will sweep you off your feet for the rest of your life. I’ve seen marriages between lots of white people that have ended in utter disaster and ruin – including the folks who seemed to “have it all” (the money, the luxury cars, the beachfront property).

When two people from the same race happen to marry, they don’t necessarily have special “insurance” against a divorce or devastation. Crap can happen to any couple out there.

4. It ignores the fact that love just happens

As I wrote a while back, I never intended to marry a Chinese man. I had actually dated a steady stream of mainly white guys before I moved to China – where I was eventually swept off my feet by an extraordinary young guy from Hangzhou. I didn’t think about whether it would be harder with him…I just knew I loved him and wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. Period.

Sometimes love just happens – in the most unlikely and unexpected ways. Instead of worrying about how “tough” it might be, shouldn’t we be celebrating that two people have come together to share one of the most beautiful things in life?

What do you think?

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83 Replies to “Why I’m tired of hearing “you’ll have a hard life” about interracial relationships”

  1. Wow, how lousy to have a mom like that! Your poor friend. I hope she reads this and sees me sending her many, many hugs! All the hugs her mother should have give her. And keep giving her. I hope her mom gets a clue.

    My family is nuts, but progressive. My immediate family is also huge, but I’m the first one to marry a non-white. My older sister (a doctor with a little toddler) was thrilled — “I’m soooo glad you are marrying outside our race! It’s so great that my daughter will get to see an interracial couple!”

    At the time, it was kind of annoying. “Like, yeah, love has nothing to do with it! I just married him to be a good role model for your kid!” But your friend’s story shows how much worse it could have been. It probably has something to do with being in a super liberal family.

  2. Whenever I read these stories of discrimination against interracial couples I am honestly surprised. Of course I believe these things happened, it is just that it has never happened to me.

    I don’t know why, but Mr. B and I never ever encountered open discrimination since we started dating. We’ve pretty much only had supportive people, enthusiastic parents ands smiling neighbors around us. Therefore it is a bit hard for me to fully understand what it means to be openly discriminated and mocked because of your interracial marriage.

    I wonder maybe that depends on the background? The society you come from? So far Mr. B and I only lived in big international cities (and we plan to continue doing so), so maybe that also helped.

    1. I agree with you! My experiences in Taiwan have been the same as yours. People are so friendly and just supportive.

      However, I can relate to what Jocelyn is saying because my Canadian friend, who starting dating her Chinese husband over 20 years ago, has been subjected to random people judging them and some statements which are so sad and hurtful.

  3. That is so sad that your friend’s mother said that. And what is even more sad is that people rarely change [but at least her mom should have kept her opinions to herself].

    Actually, when I think of William and Kate, I always think about how the media hounded her when they broke up [before getting back together and marrying]. I think she was called ‘Waity Katie’ by the tabloids. Even she suffered before getting her ‘happily ever after.’

    And you are right! Love just happens. People may judge by what they see on the exterior but like any relationship, what is on the inside counts as well!

  4. Huh… I totally forgot about the interracial aspect of my marriage. 8 1/2 years, and we’ve never had anyone look at us strange, say anything, point and laugh, nothing. I haven’t thought about it in forever. Knowing the way so many people in the world are, I’d say we are really lucky. Even when I first met my then-girlfriend in China, we never had any issues, but I know how rare that is.

    Good luck to those who have been discriminated against or hassled; it’s not all bad, thankfully.

  5. My parents had a similar reaction when they found out I was engaged to Ming. It was very painful for me. But now that I’m older, been married awhile, and have kids of my own, I can understand their concern. I was young and naive when I got engaged. Marriage is hard. I do think being in a cross-cultural relationship is challenging in ways that other marriage aren’t. . . though it can also be very rewarding.

    That being said, I think it would have been better for my parents to just let me decide for myself. I was grown up, and like you said, love just happens. I also agree, that any relationship can be difficult. I don’t believe there is a true Prince Charming. Life isn’t a fairy tale.

  6. Actually, I think that interracial marriage is simpler in some ways. When you are with sb from your own circle – same school/city/country/race – you THINK that it’s simple, that he/she is similar to you, that you surely have the same values and so on. Than you discover that it’s not necessarily true… And sometimes it’s not so easy to accept it. But whan you date someone, who is very different from you and you can see it from the beginning – you just HAVE TO accept those differences. You imagine, that probably you’ll have different opinions and experiences, and then – sometimes you are lucky enough to get someone, who is very similar to you in many, many ways, in many crucial issues.

    1. That is a really good point. I think it can be a lot easier to accept differences when you expect them. It’s easy to assume that someone from a similar background has similar values and opinions, but that’s often not the case.

  7. I think my life would be so much harder if I’d marry prince William! I would be confined to a life exposed in global media, limited to living in England, wouldn’t be able to pursue my own ideas, ideals or dreams. Life with my Chinese partner is so much easier than that, because this way I am free to go where I like, can think global and arrange life the way I/we want.

    What people don’t know… just to give an example/comparison. 🙂

  8. R Zhao, you said it “But now that I’m older, been married awhile, and have kids of my own, I can understand their concern.” Parents in general want the best for their children and best ( I guess means) not to have a difficult/hard life, but for it to be smooth, uncomplicated and happy.

    Maybe it’s racist or just ignorance.

    It is no different in China. Chinese hope their children will marry someone from their own province, or someone who can provide them with stability and security (money, house); love doesn’t necessarily fit into the equation.

  9. Thank you for anther great post. This concern is something I had to hear many time. Not just because my husband is Chinese but because his family are poor farmers and even he himself is not considered to be marriage material in Chinese girls eyes.
    Even my mother didn’t support us much in the beginning. The first few years before we got married she would still be hoping we will break up. This thought even continued the first year after we got married. I have to say though that she hasn’t had the chance to meet him before we got married and she didn’t want to be at a Chinese village wedding. She met him a year after we got married. Things have changed since she met him. I am sure as a mother she still hopes things would be easier for us, but since she met him in person she has no doubt anymore why I made my choice. She is supportive of our relationship and just wants us to be happy and not that things are tough…

    Things are tough sometimes. But I am sure they would be even with a partner from my own country and nationality. There are always difficulties in life, but at least I have a perfect partner who supports me and excepts me and we can go through the difficulties together.

  10. Absolutely. Doing something because it would give you “an easy life” instead of following your heart, that sounds like the lamest life ever! What fun would that be? Seems that sort of motivation in love would make for a boring life more than anything else. No thanks. Be more interesting, keep it up!

  11. I’ve been on both sides of the fence and can see why her mother would have some concern. The mother just wants the best for her daughter. That’s perfectly normal. Mine was worried that my kids would grow up crawling on dirty floors in the middle of China, but was obviously very supportive. You can still be a loving and supportive parent, yet speak what’s on your mind. It happens all the time. My mom loves my husband, but isn’t shy about speaking out when she thinks I’m not doing that enough!

    1. I like your comment, Susan 🙂 I can see how a mother would just be concerned with her daughter’s well-being, but it’s easy to come off as unsupportive. When Alex and I first told my mom that we wanted to get married, she said the exact same thing as Jocelyn’s friend’s mother – that she was worried we’d have a hard life. Even though Alex graduated from high school and graduated from a 3-year vocational college studying tourism management, my mom sees education in China as inferior and since then, Alex has felt looked down upon by his mother-in-law. And my mom wonders why she doesn’t have the perfect relationship with her son-in-law…..

      1. Thanks, Michelle! I totally get that! I think it’s a universal problem/issue. Even though I married a guy who grew up 15 miles from me and has a great job, my mom tells me that he works too much, etc. I think it’s just their nature to be critical and to look out for us. Now that I’m starting to get into that role with Jake, I have warned him about some people, to which he replies that I was completely off base. But then it turned out I was right! That’s not to say our mothers are always right, but I felt I had to say something to protect Jake.

      2. “my mom sees education in China as inferior and since then, Alex has felt looked down upon by his mother-in-law.”

        Oh I see that is why the top US universities in S&E prefer Chinese students over American (mostly white) students in their PhD programs…



        Please thank her for the news.

        As I said before, you can make any excuse for not liking someone because of darker skin color.

    2. @ Susan.

      When I read your book “The Good Chinese Wife” I did not recall that your parents expressed worries that your children (i.e., their grandchildren) will be crawling on dirty floors in China. Why did you leave out this detail? I am just curious.

      1. Fred, I thought it was in there, but it’s not! I must have cut it in one of the many revisions. My mom told me that when I called her at the end in San Francisco and told her I was leaving. I guess that statement from her didn’t move the story along, so out it went!

  12. Met a woman from Texas in Singapore who claimed that racism does not exist in the US, neither does white privilege (she earned everything she got including her white husband who is from Alabama) and therefore there should be no special preferences for anyone until she found out that her son was interested in the daughter of a top official in the government….she drove upto her family’s house and basically told the mother of the girl to tell her daughter to keep her “dirty non-white” hands off her son because life is very hard as is and marrying a Chinese woman, rich as her family may be will be very difficult if he decides to return to Texas. Everytime I return to Singapore I ask her whether she had made up her mind about the existence of racism in Texas..and of course she tries to avoid me.

    Then met an Alabama woman (a sorority woman aged 27) in Japan who is dead set against affirmitive action and claimed that the problem was non-whites dont associate with her…then last year, she was sick to the stomach when the first Japanese American woman was admitted into her sorority…yes literally…and she lives and works in Japan..among the people she does not consider her equal…go figure!

    So yes, many white people, particularly southern whites want to have it both ways..when it comes to Affirmative Action and white privilege, racism does not exist, but touch their son or daughter you will definitely get a verbal licking about how suddenly in their view the world has become racist. I guess it depends on your convenience and circumstances whether the world is white or not.

    In the above story I presume the mother did not attend the wedding, and in my experience white women tend to hold these views more than white men.

  13. Marghini:

    You must be from California or Hawaii or some such place or you are definitely living in Asia..try the US south or google Parma, Missouri.

    1. Hi David,

      I am not from the US, I am Italian. We are currently living in Asia but about to move to London soon. Hopefully London is international enough that we’ll be able to keep feeling comfortable as a AMWF couple!

  14. Ryan:

    Again you must never have gone to the Deep South..you are probably somewhere on the west coast, Hawaii or some place in East Asia.

    1. David,

      East Coast, but trips to Tennessee and Florida without incident, and West Virginians seem to be fine with us. Honestly, I’d expect more, but we’ve been insanely lucky, thankfully.

          1. David is absolutely right about people from the South, especially the states he mentioned. Coming from California, living there for 1 1/2 months while trying out one of their unis was enough to clear out and head back home while ranting about backwardness and racism.

            Ryan, I have briefly visited other states in that region, but didn’t notice it until I tried to live there, attend university, and think about jobs there. That’s when you notice it the most. Also, the longer you stay there, the more you shockingly see. It’s such a different culture there, though, that they don’t know the difference because they’ve never lived anywhere else, and think, as David says “xyz privilege is the norm.” It is such a hierarchy in that region and it makes zero sense to me.

  15. This topic always comes up when dating not withing ones own “race”. It is just so stupid. My mother wasn’t so thrilled either that I suddenly dated Chinese girl but her concerns were more about that the girl would move back to China once she is done with her studies at the foreign university. Well, she didnt leave but stayed with me and thats now several years ago, by now we are married, have a son and live in yet another country.
    Dating within the own race is no easy way either, but especially elderly people think that way …

  16. Yes…Chinese want to marry within their community, probably village or township, Koreans too…but the difference between many white Americans and the non-whites is that the non-whites will never say there is no discrimination in daily economic life in America, while most white Americans will claim there is none…until of course their son or daughter goes out with a non-white such as an Asian…then suddenly the situation will be reversed…they will claim there is plenty of discrimination.

  17. This was a good topic to discuss. 😛
    We can sometimes easily forget that there is still discrimination against intercultural/interracial couples. Even within our own families. I know it took some getting use to for our families to accept that our relationship was not a temporary thing. Others like to voice out their opinion about how one should stick to their own “race” because it is the right thing to do. For our situation I believe this mindset (especially for older folks) has to do with how strongly the presence of racism was not that long ago and still continues today. Not mention how it will affect how connected we will stay with our cultural traditions.

  18. My mother is still hoping for a danish-speaking future husband for me, but now she saw how that went last time, and I think she is getting more large. Both of my parents have been nice to both my Chinese ex and other foreign flirts, though I understand what you mean. Questions are coming all the time, people are making fun and you just need to get used to it because it probably won’t change anytime soon … Anyway, love reading your blog 🙂

  19. I have had some “helpful” and no so helpful advice from family and friends. I have married and divorced one Asian man and am currently dating another, btw, divorce had nothing to do with his being Asian. They just don’t understand that I am not attracted, mentally or physically, to white men. But for me it’s not life is going to be more difficult, it’s more like ” but we can’t relate to them, we have no common ground”…I never can wrap my head around that comment…

  20. Like Marghini and Constance, I haven’t experienced this kind of criticism myself. My family and friends are all very supportive and, if anything, are only secretly sad because it looks like I’m going to stay in China for a loooong time… hehe.

    I agree with you. Marrying someone of the same race doesn’t guarantee everything will be alright. The same way that marrying outside your race doesn’t guarantee you will live in a fairy tale! Every person is different. In my case, I have been very lucky because I found the perfect man, it’s only that I had to come very far to find him hahaha.

  21. If you are white and US citizen married to a non-white person, great living in Hawaii or the west coast..otherwise you made a wise decision…you are better off living in China.

    1. David, you keep hitting us over the head the fact that discrimination is rampant in the US (except in California and Hawaii?). Id like to argue that it is, in fact, everywhere. In some places it may happen more frequently than others and even this is dependent on a number of factors. Not to mention, everyone reacts to it differently.

      I’m sorry you’ve had such negative experiences, but please realize not everyone has or will have experiences like yours. Please stop assuming that anyone who has positive experiences must be in Asia (or Hawaii or California). You also don’t know enough about anyone’s situation here to know where they are “better off” living.

  22. David.

    You seemed to be so knowledgeable about the correlation between White folks in the South and racial discrimination. I was wondering if you know whether there is a correlation between non-North American White folks (e.g., Europeans, Latin America, etc.) and discrimination. Please advise.

  23. Even within North America it is different. Majority generally tends to hate and despise the largest minority whether successful or not. In Vancouver, BC, at best many whites dont like the Chinese and in general, dont like any Asians. Similarly in Australia and NZ. Even AWWM marriages are more accepted in the United States than in Canada, Australia or NZ.

    The Brits want a one way street…they want to work in Asia…Singapore, Malaysia, China and Hong Kong…a survey by an International Organization said that 70% of the educated Brits want to work abroad…of these, only 30% will allow foreigners especially non-white foreigners to work in their country. The survey is pretty accurate…have run into white Brits in Malaysia and elsewhere with this attitude. The government has implemented this policy and as a results the country has the worst brain drain than any other in the world, including developing countries.

    I do not know what to make of other Europeans..but out East, Poles and Ukrainians hate the Russians more than they hate the Chinese or any other Asian. There is a lot of infighting among the Europeans. Northern Ireland Protestants still hate the Catholics and vice versa although they all look alike. In Latin America, color is a social issue…but economic class appears to be more important, although Nazis seemed to have settled in parts of Chile and Argentina after World War II.

    Hope this will suffice.

  24. For what it’s worth, David is right about the situation in Australia. In Australia, there is a persistent strain of anti-Asian sentiment and the fear of being “swamped by Asians” has had a major role in shaping the national character and the way in which Aussies view the outside world.

    In fact, Australians are pretty well known for being racist against non-whites in general. Still, visitors from North America and Europe are often shocked by the casual racism on display in Australia… It’s like they’ve stepped back in time.

  25. With a white Aussie, particularly white Aussie women, and Europeans, you know where they stand. With white Americans you dont, and so you assume..when you see a southern white…yep, must be a racist (although in my experience in 90% of the cases it turns out to be true)…big problem with American whites is that many tell you that racism is the thing of the past, and we should be color blind and there should be no affirmative action (although 90% of all benefits go to white women)..but ask to date their daughter or son, they will say life will be hard because there is plenty of racism out there. Both cannot be right. It is one or the other.

    1. Hi,

      I have been reading this blog for a while, but I am a shy person and usually don’t post stuff. However, your post struck a cord in me and I have to say something.

      Let me give you a little background about me. I am a white female born and raised in Arizona. I live less than 90 miles from the U.S./Mexico border (I happen to love living near an international border by the way). I also teach History/American Government.

      Next month, I am getting married and my Fiance is from Shanghai. My family loves my Fiance and has been very accepting of him. My family and I are also very excited to meet his family, when they come for the wedding next month.

      Why did I give you my background? You said in your previously, “white Americans tell you that racism in a thing of the past, and we should be color blind and there should be no affirmative action.” Does racism exist in the U.S.? The simple answer is yes. However, not everyone in the U.S. is racist. If you had a bad experience with this, then I am sorry.

      Are Americans color blind? This is a tricky question to answer. I am not a racist person and many of the people I know, are not racist as well However, most Americans do not want to discuss race/color issues or differences. It can make people uncomfortable, because they do not know how to discuss it (I actually discuss this with my students).

      If you look at U.S. History, it is not all sunshine and daisies. Has my country done things that were wrong in history? Yes. However, haven’t other countries done similar things? I think that every country on this planet has some form of racism/stereotyping and not so perfect histories.

      There is a book that I highly recommend you read by Ronald Takaki and it is called, “A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America.” This book takes a multicultural approach to U.S. History and it does not hide how different ethnic groups were treated in the U.S. This book may shed some light on the subject you speak of.

      My country may not be perfect, but we are not that bad either (I do love my country ). Please do not lump all Americans together.

        1. Congrats to you, Heather! Glad you spoke up, and how clever of you to find Jocelyn’s blog before the wedding. She’s an amazing resource.

          Thanks for the book recommendation. (I’m taking it even if it was aimed at David.)

          Lots of eyes on Arizona this week for Sheriff Arapaio’s contempt hearing for his racial profiling activities. If you were ever to blog on your thoughts as a local, I’d read about that (as well as your upcoming wedding).

      1. Fact is this line comes from white Americans and white Americans only…not white Canadians, not even white South Africans..most races are racist in South Africa…and the Afrikaans women are by far the worst.

        First Week:

        White American Daughter to white American Mother: Mom, I am writing an essay supporting Affirmative Action.

        White American Mother to white American Daughter: why? Minorities should pick themselves up from the bootstrap…there is no white privilege or racism

        Daughter: Ok

        First Week:

        White American Daughter to her Mother: Mom, this is my boyfriend..he is from Singapore.

        White American Mother to the Daughter: Break off with him because there is too much racism in this country and life is very hard.

        White Amercian Daughter…But, you said in America racism is a thing of the past?

        So racism depends on the circumstances..if it does not affect you, there is no racism. If it does, there is plenty of racism….that is your average white American mindset. In other words, let us keep it the way it is and beneft.

        A bunch of women from my workplace were in Phoenix, AZ for a conference..all from India…all US ctizens with light skin were detained by the Sheriff’s men and held all day…the one who escaped, the dark skinned woman with a Christian name…(name changed…but somewhate Similar…Mary George)…they let her go because they thought she was African American. As long as the citizens of Maricopa keep voting this bigot in…I will have to say they are racist…perhaps if they bankrupt Maricopa through lawsuits they will come to their senses…that is the only thing racist citizens understand whether black racists in Zimbabwe or white racists of Maricopa or South Africa.

    2. The US is the most racist country in the world. Sure , other countries are probably racist , but no none of them have the power to influence people subconsciously via the bullshit media that Hollywood puts out. Most of the women who read this blog have probably married or are with asian men from their homelands , and that means Asian mean who didn’t grow up seeing representations of themselves as weak, spineless , “Gay” , nerds , misogynistic , and asexual, and a million other negative stereotypes. An all these damn stereotypes are enforced by who? White men. White people tell you that racism is a thing of the past , because none of it affects them. All steeped in that mighty privilege. Racism is a very real thing , and it’s not going away. Australia and US are equally racist , Australians just put the racism put it out in the open , while Americans do thing like affirmative action to reduce then of Asians in colleges to keep the number of whites enrolled up.

      1. White men? white women too. With the exception of white women on websites such as these very few if any white women will date non-white men let alone Asian men….that is the fact. Otherwise, I agree.

        1. White women are not blameless and that I agree. Everyone has a choice , and its pretty obvious that most white women choose not to date Asian Men. Even recent statistics from last year still show this. http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/race-attraction-2009-2014/

          But really , this website is a utopia of White Women who date foreign Asian Men who are never affected by the affects of a society that purposely seems to hate Asian Men.

          1. I understand your frustration, but Asian men have a choice, too: Asian men can choose not to chase white women like some kind of holy grail and direct their attention to an Asian woman who may be more deserving of their affection. (Though you would probably tell me that things have gotten so bad for Asian men that even Asian women reject them.)

            I also want to note that although Asians in Asia are not subjected to the pervasive media/cultural perpetuation of negative images of Asian men, Asians there also hold the view that Asian men are somehow inferior to white men… It’s part of a broader deference to white people that Asians practice as a result of centuries of white domination of global politics and economics.

          2. “Though you would probably tell me that things have gotten so bad for Asian men that even Asian women reject them”

            The funny thing is , that is what EXACTLY happens. These asian women will tell you that “She does not date Asian guys”
            What kind of bullshit is that? These women have internalized racism from all the anti asian male media that tells them that their OWN race is unattractive. There’s a reason why the media promotes the AFWM pairing , but does not do so for AMWF

            And personally, I don’t date White women. So this has nothing to do with me. I just don’t like hegemonic racism.

            “Asians there also hold the view that Asian men are somehow inferior to white men… ”

            Where’d you get that from? Evidence? Are you trying to promote your own view that even AF in Asian think we are inferior?

            I know exactly where you loyalties lie.

          3. I’m aware of the aversion to dating Asian men from Asian women. The sarcasm you detected was not intended.

      2. Whoa! I think, Xeonfuzion, that it might be best to avoid sweeping generalizations such as “the US is the most racist country in the world.” I agree that we have some very, very serious racial issues (profiling, segregation, unfair lending practices, disparity in prison sentences, disparity in education, yeah, we’ve got all that and more). Institutionalized and other insidious forms of racism are finally getting a spotlight, thanks to cellphone cameras and social media.

        Do we still have a long way to go? Hell, yeah. But the majority of country is outraged and aware. Unfortunately, our bigots are louder. I think every country has bigots. We’re just a bigger country than most, with more media (especially uncensored media) than most — I don’t know that we have any more willfully ignorant racist assholes per capita than other countries. This doesn’t mean I don’t bang my head on my desk and wonder if there’s any hope for humanity. (Usually after arguing with my neighbors in the Los Angeles Police Department.)

        Remember, too, that the United States has far more races than most countries do. Of course we’re going to have more friction. We used to discriminate against the Irish, the Italians, heck, anyone Catholic in the 1800s.

        You’re not wrong that some of America refuses to recognize that there is racism. People I know in the extremely white State of New Hampshire used to say, “We don’ have a race problem here.” It’s true, because there’s only one race! But they don’t say that anymore — the internet and cellphone cameras have brought racial injustices into their living rooms. Many of them are outraged, and mobilizing.

        I also think you’re wrong about American white women ignoring Asian men. It’s true that it’s still unusual, but I’ve seen over a dozen American AMWF couples in the last month, just at a random corner bakery. Four had kids! (Gorgeous kids.) And I’m about as white as you get, yet I’m with a Chinese-American guy. For the record, we have traveled all over the U.S. together, including Kentucky and the Virginia/ Tennessee border and we have had exactly ZERO racist comments. None.

        I’m not saying racism doesn’t exist. I am certainly not saying you might not have experienced it personally. And for that, I am ashamed and I hope we do better. But I don’t believe your blanket statements about our country, our geographic regions, or even our individual states are accurate.

        1. Well, I was expecting some sorta barroom-style tongue-lashing… I’m disappointed. 🙂

          I will say this about the US, though. Maybe it’s because of its unique historical experience with racism, but I find that Americans, by and large, have an almost instinctive sensitivity toward race relations that is found nowhere else in the world.

          1. Debate is very civilized here.

            The louder people get, the more the more rage floods the system, and suddenly no one is listening or thinking anymore. Rational discourse is essential.

            Except when people are crazy. There’s no talking to crazy. Just back away slowly.

            Also, I think Jocelyn’s policy on comments is “Be civil, or be deleted.”

        2. I thank you very much for your post. I lived pretty close to where you grew up in the early 1980s. In fact, when I first came to this country I was completely oblivious to all the racial problems in Arlington, VA. Part of it is becuase of brain washing by my uncle who gave us the view back in the dark ages of the 1970s that American racial problems have been solved…he had married a white woman..who happened have an aunt married to the first ever Indian Congressman…google Congressman Saund. Well, not true…Landed about three miles from the American Nazi Party Headquarters in Arlington Virginia when I came to this country back in 1979. Again oblivious to all this because of bitter infighting in my family who managed to stay together but still fight…until one fine day someone threw a coke can on my mother and it escalated into throwing stones and my sister being beaten up in Wakefield High. I was ready to leave and go back to my old Boilermaker position in the railways back in Asia. Instead, I ended up becoming a Purdue University Boilermaker..ended up in graduate school out there…and that is where I personally witnessed large-scale racism….Klan marches in Crawfordsville, IN and Kokomo, IN. White Americans scared out of their pants that you will end up asking a white woman on a date…particularly if you went to church and professed Christian faith…try to set you up with anyone who looked Asian…even a moslem Asian…they tried this several times, until a brother of the moslem guy beat a few of them up with other moslems and landed in jail and got deported….this was the mid 1990s…made it really clear to me that Americans thought skin color first. And there were several other incidents…a mother throwing up because her army son got engaged to a Hawaiian woman of Japanese descent, and an Indian couple one of whom looked white and the other really dark (pretty near African American) but who spoke the same language got harrassed and beaten up and I could go on.

          Indiana has changed, at least the area around Purdue…the Asians control about one third of the economy with Subaru, and a Chinese parts firm and funding Purdue research…I have seen more Asian-White couples, etc. But, Alabama, Tennessee? Not in my experience. The biggest change in my lifetime was in California..around Los Angeles…San Marino used to be an Asian Sundown town..rumors were that a Japanese woman married to an American GI disappeared back in the 1950s or 1960s…until the 1980s it was pretty racist…Anti-Asian racism at its worst…now the Mainland Chinese have taken over the place…and to all the other Asians, particularly Japanese and Koreans who complain about this…I tell them the story of the Japanese woman disappearing…and it really spooks them out…particularly the Japanese women and American women of Japanese origin. So, yes indeed, change is possible..but change is coming from white men marrying Asian women and bringing brides back to America…last year 350,000 visas were granted for this category out of which nearly 220,000 were for AWWM…a fact which did not get lost on the Anti immigrant bigot of the bigoted and racist Center for Immigration Studies…his name, Mark Kirkorian.

          1. I have a sister who still lives in Arlington, VA. (Of course, I have sisters in many cities up and down the Eastern Seaboard.) I couldn’t speak for the sentiment in the 80s, but Arlington is pretty liberal now, with a large Latino population.

            Regarding your experiences with U.S. Christians, I am not surprised. Yes, the 25% of the US population that considers itself Christian Evangelical is the often the most racist and certainly the most homophobic portion of our population. Hardly Christian of them. As Ghandi said:”I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

            The country is changing. Conservatives are currently fighting a loud and nasty rearguard action against acceptance of race and sexual orientation. They will eventually lose, thanks to everything from media, internet and changing demographics.

            We’ll see if Texas votes to secede. 🙂

  26. R. Zhao…not my experience…it is what is in the news. And yes, the children of Asian-white couples will have a very hard time in Knoxville, TN…at the minimum they will not get invited to the debutante parties……and it will stop with that if they are lucky….


    And read the comments from the southern white bigots…


    I bet you will not get these comments from Chinese people about whites in a magazine in China….at least I have not seen any…so R. Zhao…please educate me and provide me evidence like what I have given about the Tennessee bigots.

    1. David, where did I suggest bigots did not exist? In fact, I stated just the opposite. Please read my comment again.

      While Chinese people generally treat (white) foreigners very well, I have been called names, mistreated, and overcharged a number of times in China, simply for being foreign. I have heard Chinese people make numerous racist comments about blacks, other Asians, and other Chinese ethic minorities (non-Han). Believe me, there is plenty of racism here, it is generally different from the kind one encounters in the US.

      1. It depends on where you are in the totem pole. Go to Singapore…white people on the top, Singaporeans next, Singaporean Chinese despise mainland Chinese and other Asians…a recent phenomenon since probably 2005…and then come the blacks and other dark skinned folks. Dark skinned Indians and black women are the lowest in the totem poll.

  27. Marghini:

    London better than the rest of UK, but most racism there is directed at blacks and South Asians…the worse east Asians can say is that they are invisible.

  28. Just for the record, from the perspective of a POC (person of colour), being “colour blind” is in fact very racist. It is insidious in that it disregards an essential aspect of a POC’s being and it is basically a convenient way with which white people absolves themselves of any “white guilt” they may feel in their relations with POCs.

    1. Hi D-Maybe,

      In the last few years, the term “color blind” is something that is being discussed in the U.S. This is because of ongoing issues in the country. PBS has some interesting commentary by experts who discuss the term, its meaning, etc. I teach about it from a scholarly standpoint, because my students ask me about it. My fiance has also asked me about it, because he has seen in it in news articles, just like my students have.

  29. Alas! I wrote a whole huge comment about racism directed at David & xeonfuzion. I think it died in moderation.

    Perhaps I should swear less.

  30. Thank you for writing this. I love reading your posts. I agree, I think there are going to be relationship problems but these aren’t really ethnic (&certainly to national) in origin. They arise in ALL relationships but manifest differently in each instance.

  31. Interesting blog post and interesting debate.
    I don’t agree that people go on and on about how bad the racial issues are in US. They are real issues. In some areas we have made great progress. I think each person’s experience can be quite different. If you are more assimilated, you are not likely to view the racial issues the same way. Color blind racism might exist when people are simply ignorant of others. I read “Racism without Racists”. An argument exists how modern racism manifests from the not so obvious discriminatory actions.
    I think most white folks don’t realize their privileges from being white. Even when people do, they simply don’t care too much to change it. Don’t forget social class. You will have a harder time if you are born to poor white parents.

    US history is shaped from its distinct historical context and conditions. I do think the American ideals of equality and freedom is more true than other places on earth. Unfortunately, one group’s gain is often another group’s loss. Over time, we have made many amendments. Please stop beating the past. There is certainly much more to be done.

    I feel interracial relationship is harder at the beginning only. Then you start to deal with problems most couples deal with. It is up to each couple to work it out. If you are better educated and well informed, you won’t find your life as difficult.

    One notable fact is that gays make up about 2% of the US population. However, you see such a big push for equal rights these days. On one hand, many rich and powerful have joined the fights because they themselves are gay. On the other it is the ideal of equality.

    We can’t blame any hardship to external factors. Recognizing how those factors can affect you will certainly help relationships and beyond.

    1. I disagree that interracial or inter-cultural relationships are harder in the beginning only. Things got significantly more complicated for my husband and I when we had a kid. It brings up issues you normally don’t deal with and some of the beliefs are deeply cultural.

  32. @Zhao

    I am sure your household will have different dynamics. You will need to negotiate the cultural terms for your child. I want to point out it also has something to do with the fact you are living in China. If your husband has a significant exposure to American culture like you do to China, you will have a much easier time. Both partners need to be aware of how they are shaped by their cultural upbringing and have the ability to negotiate between the cultures. In China, you will have a harder time to instill American values while all the outside world is against you. In America, the Chinese side need to give in. However, American side has an easier time to win with given America is doing overall.

    Also, you are not likely becoming a Chinese citizen. It is likely your husband will become an American if he lives in US. China certainly is nowhere near having the level of diversities existing in US.

    Your experiences will differ depending on where you live – country or location within US.

  33. Thought Supreme Court let by John Roberts ruled that racism does not exist anymore and that the Voting Rights Act is reduntant. So why would there be hardship for a Chinese male-White female couple and why the hate? Secondly, would the mother be equally annoyed if her white son brought a Chinese daughter in law home or does it apply only to white females bringing home non-white males?

  34. Ahh, Jocelyn,

    We hear it all don’t we. My aunt (who I really love, don’t get me wrong) said to me, just before moving to India, “why can’t you marry a guy from *insert the name of the town next door*”. This stung even more because she married a Frenchman and has lived in France for nearly thirty years.

    Maybe people think I have chosen the easy life (housewive with a maid) and others think I have chosen the hard life (living away from Western ‘luxury’) but the most important thing was that it was MY choice and what I want from my life.

    Yes, things haven’t be totally “easy” and yes I have had some incidents where I haven’t felt “safe” but I can assure you, I didn’t always feel safe in England.

    Lots of love, great post xx

    1. More issue of colonialism…France was not a UK colony, whereas India was. ..also different skin color although there are several Indians I know who can pass for white. What may be hard is if an English woman married to a foreigners who is not EU citizen wants to return to England with her husband….not easy to get spousal visa..and with Cameron and Theresa May getting back in, it is about to get worse.

  35. How did i miss this post. You forgot one crucial thing that these naysayers say,”Oh what about the children? It will be so hard on them growing up in a world that won’t accept them. I hate when I hear this from people that is showing what they truly think.

  36. While I’ve never dated outside my race, I’ve been interested, many times. These very interests have brought up interesting conversations with my grandmother over time.

    This woman has raised me most of my life, she is 83 years old and has seen a lot of history. One such conversation that I had with her for the first time was late high school when I developed a crush on a black student who shared an art class with me.

    The conversation began with, “Ma’maw, if I start dating a black boy, what would you think of him,”

    My grandmother looked me straight in the face point blank and said, “you can be friends, but don’t you ever bring him home,” was her response.

    of course when I heard that, my eyes got huge, not once had I ever heard my grandmother utter something so raciest before, and I even pointed it out.

    My grandmother explained herself that it had nothing to do with her being racist, but everything to do with that the culture we were living in was to raciest for me to have a happy and easy relationship. She said she hated seeing mix couples because her only fear was for the children having unhappy lives never accepted into the white community and treated like second class citizens all their lives. She truly believes this, and still does.

    This isn’t the only conversation we’ve had about it either, we’ve talked about many different cultures and blends. Of all of them, the only race she found acceptable to blend was white and Mexican because at least the children had a chance of being accepted.

    The biggest conversation of all was, when I developed a crush on the first Chinese student I met, he worked at a restaurant I frequented and we weren’t that different in age. My grandmother knew right away I had a crush, I had always loved everything about china and Japan long before the first Japanese cartoon I watched. I had even dedicated myself in high school to helping a Chinese girl who knew absolutely no English.

    When I brought the conversation up with her, she smiled, and told me, “you will never be accepted,” now this surprised me. completely. I had always heard, It’s US that would never be accepted.

    Of course, grandmother explained. Her reasons were, that I wasn’t intelligent enough, clean enough, modest enough, or organized enough. All those things she listed, were things that were true. I’ve very disorganized, very messy (especially when painting), like to wear belly shirts, and sometimes have very little common sense. She truly believed that my relationship with this boy would be nothing but fighting and then a eventual break up that would leave me heartbroken. She hated to see that happen to me, and said I was better off dating the young man I was also becoming closer to at the time (and eventually started dating to current time).

    but despite all of that, my grandmother is one of the least racist pe0ple I know, she has many friends from all different walks of life, and they are close friendships, but when it comes to the matters of the heart, she truly believes that it’s better to not blend, if not for the sake of the resulting children. I’ve sometimes think that she really has influenced my beliefs, but I’m giddy when I meet blended couples, I want to know everything about there relationships. yet when It comes down to myself, I end up repeating that same mantra, I’m not good enough, despite the fact that I am truly only attracted to Asian men on a physical and sometimes mental level (once I get to talking).

    Now that I’ve put that out there (and realizing I wasn’t sure where I was going with this) I’ve found myself quite happy with my same race relationship even though I still sneak glances at my Asian college mates and for a brief moment let my mind wander about, if only I could go on one date, and see if it’s true, that I’m not good enough for another culture across the world.

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