My friend asked me, ‘What’s it like being in an interracial relationship?’ Honestly I never used to think anything of it. I am very naïve when it comes to relationships and other people’s perceptions, mainly due to the fact that I expect everyone to be as open minded as I am. I was born in Zambia, grew up in England and I’m Catholic. Si’s parents are from Pakistan, he grew up in America and has spent his adult life in England. Oh and he’s Catholic too!
I always thought I’d marry a white man and have mixed race babies, there’s a possibility this may still happen but as it stands it may not. I grew up mainly around Caucasian people so it made sense that I found Caucasian guys the most attractive – not that race has never been an issue for me. If I find someone attractive, and they have a personality then that’s all it takes, their colour isn’t necessarily a deciding factor, as long as they treat me right and make me happy.
So back to Si. When we met I thought, well he’s definitely not an idiot! He had aspirations, made me laugh, and so in my mind I thought ‘there shouldn’t be a problem’, oh and he also miraculously ticked most of my overprotective Father’s check list! And then came the stares…I’m not quite sure when I even noticed them but it was pretty soon after we started going out in public together. I would notice Afro-Caribbean people looking at me with an inquisitive look on their faces, they didn’t have to say anything, their eyes spoke for them – “Do you know you are holding an Asian boys hand? Do you need rescuing?”Si encountered a similar experience from his Asian counterparts, except his was more of a “Oh this is haram, do your parents know what you’re doing”kind of look, by the way ‘haram’means forbidden by Islamic law. We have even had people slowing down as they drive past in their cars just to make sure that what they are seeing is an ‘actuality’– I know…Truth is, we didn’t know any of these strangers, so I can’t say their looks ever bothered me. Besides, our relationship is none of their business.
Although I don’t care what people think, I still think it’s sad how in this day and age there are people that cannot accept the idea of me, a Black girl, dating someone from another race. It’s already bad enough that we have to fight existing prejudices – Asian (generally Muslims) being labelled as terrorists etc. Regardless of what we hear on the news, is it right for us to define every single person from a particular race or culture by one single bias stereotype? No. If so, then technically I should be an aspiring housewife whose aim should be to get married to an African man and cook, clean and raise our children whilst waiting on his hand and foot.
Having two cultures is actually harder than it looks! One society expects me to be one way, and the other society tells me to stand up for myself and do what makes me happy. Which one is right?
One day, I want to get married, have a family and work but I believe in equality. I also believe that I should do my duties as a wife out of love, not because society states that what I’m meant to do. The thing with interracial relationships is that when at least one of you has more than one culture, you pick and choose the best bits from both cultures and introduce your other half to a totally new world which can be both exciting and terrifying at the same time. Not only are you trying to find common ground on your beliefs but you are also trying to learn how to deal with the obstacles of being in a relationship and handle the opinions of other people.
I have questioned my choices many times, generally because of what society thinks. Now my conclusion is, Si makes me happy, and as long as there is a foreseeable future and I can feel confident in the fact that he will look after me, well then that’s all that matters.
(Cover photo via tumblr)