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Interracing: A Look At The Torch Interracial Couples Carry Today

In many ways, I've been very blessed in my life. Amongst many of them, is the city I grew up in - New York City - more specifically Brooklyn, NY. A borough, which stands alone at roughly over 2.5M people, has the ability to become the fourth largest city in the nation if separated from NYC. It is a city that is filled with every person, from every walk of life. A blend, mix, and "melting pot" if you will, that I was fortunate enough to be around everyday. 

Growing up I had friends of all backgrounds. White, black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, Middle-Eastern, tall, short, fat, skinny, athletic, quiet, introvert, extrovert, Irish, Italian, Russian, Haitian, and the list can go on and on. We played together, and as kids do, we had our squabbles and feuds over block supremacy in the neighborhood, over boys, over girls, and just about all the other ridiculous things/drama kids and teenagers fight over. Yet, through it all, that difference never quite phased our thinking.

In fact, our differences are what made some of our times enjoyable. Watching the Italian kid hit a game winning shot in a basketball tournament, seeing the Middle-Eastern kid play football, watching all of the black kids roller blade around playing street hockey, and of course, listening to the white kids freestyle in our time of foolishness on someone's stoop - all different. All, not the normal sight. Even the stereotypical jokes amongst us were all in good fun, and never hurtful - well most of the time. As stated, we had our fair share of brush ups and throw downs.
Nonetheless, all of these things felt normal until I went off to college. It was there I realized that my view on the rest of the world outside of New York City wasn't one of others being ignorant, but that of myself. My first week of college is where I looked around and noticed that many faces were unlike my own. In fact, many of the faces that were alike, there were a lot of. A lot. It was during that first week where I learned that it was my sheer ignorance of not knowing that this is how the rest of the nation is. This was truly my very first encounter with the real meaning of the term minority, and what it really meant. 

And in some odd way in life, where others were working the other way in this part of life by meeting new people,  learning about others, and accepting their values on various kinds of people, I worked my way backwards from social acceptance (although it was far from perfect) into a realm of absent diversity.

As the years went on, I learned just how truly blessed I was in growing up in such a diverse community. I watched in college as friends around me struggled with certain social concepts, and how the issue of race relations made them uncomfortable. In one experience that still shocks me, is the issue of blacks being genetically superior to whites in sports being supported by a few of my classmates in a Sports Management course.

The issue was discussed during the time when a controversial book was released emphasizing that there are genetic reasons that make blacks superiors to whites and all other races when it comes to sports. Also, the book gave "reason" as to why blacks made the best type of slaves.  Yes, I know... So when discussing the controversial book in class, one student stated, "I mean, look, they all run faster, jump higher, and are stronger than us". That one still causes me to shake my head.

Yet, what tops the pile are the looks, comments, insinuations, and questions I received when myself and my tag-team partner, to keep the wrestling-reference, were just booked together. Or, were dating.

I especially love the looks we receive now. A 6'5'' black man and a 5'2'' good looking, Italian woman...he must be an athlete, right? 

If they only knew...

So when I read this story back in November about a local church denying an interracial couple to marry in Pike County, Kentucky, it was a story that I was able to slightly relate to. While I never endured the type of hatred and/or racism of being denied the right to marry - or denied just about anything - it is cause for alarm that such racism and regressive thinking still exists. And what scares me the most, is that this rule was in place by an Evangelical church! Originally, I thought to simply call the church racist would be an injustice without understanding their concerns. Whether it be some old by-law that has yet to be updated and was miscommunicated, or it was in the interest of protecting the couple from what they knew was a tough situation to deal with in the state of Kentucky - all are up for consideration.

Unfortunately, from all of the reports, none of the excusable outs are expressed. 

It's foolish to say that racism doesn't exist, as we're only a mere sixty-to-seventy years away from Jim Crows laws and segregation. There are in fact a large population that still are still alive from those days, and still carry hard feelings. However, never would I think such strong sentiments would be as apparent in 2011, soon to be 2012.

According to the U.S. census and a Stanford Sociological study, about 7 percent of the 59 million marriages in the United States are interracial.

And as much I would love to not feel this way, the recent events in Kentucky, and the many whispers around and at interracial couples, as described by a Chicago journalist, proves that interracial couples still have many hurdles in today's society.

Another column I read in preparation to write this post offered some interesting tidbits which touched on the issue. Most notably an article in the USA Today from 2007 which touched on the growing trend of interracial couples in the Unites States. Here are two tidbits that caused raised eyebrows and a dropped jaw:

  • Bob Jones University only dropped its ban on interracial marriage in 2000.
  • In 2011, 40 percent of voters objected when the State of Alabama became the latest state to remove a no-longer enforceable ban on interracial marriages from it's constitution. 
Wow. We're not too far removed from this at all.

Fortunately, I've never had the struggles, resistance, and opposition that come with being in an interracial marriage. Fortunately, no one from our family or friends have had any issues with our marriage.

Well, at least none that have brought any concerns to our attention. I'm sure a few had various thoughts and have made comments...

Nonetheless, my tag team partner and I have never had an issue with race. We don't see each other as specs of color, rather merely types of awesome. We understand that we can live in a world where we can eat French toast in the morning for breakfast, tortellini tomato soup for lunch, followed with Curry goat and rice for dinner. And through it all, she'd say, "yah mon"

And while we are in a place where we are confident enough in our relationship to never see each other for color, I am positive the day will come where the issue, God willing if we are fortunate to have children, will become a battle for them.

Yet, as most would blindly critique interracial marriages, "they chose a difficult road", I wouldn't travel down any other. 

In a world that seems to reveal itself as more and more evil by the day, defending my happiness, to doubters, skeptics, psychologists, and social experts is not worth it.

For I know, in some weird way, it is not the mere mixing of races, or the intrusion onto "your kind" that is on the table, but mere jealousy and envy of someone's  happiness.

In accordance with the growing trend and advice amongst interracial couples, we to, will  take such hate on the cheek, turn the other one, and keep on moving.

Oddly enough, I've now learned that I grew up in a mindset where race didn't matter - it well, just didn't matter.

And really, if we can get over and beyond ourselves, it is as simple as that.

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