I hear about all the horror stories of mixed couples from around the country and abroad. Just a while ago, looking for inspiration fro a new topic, and dealing with a case of writer's block, I read a few other blogs on interracial or mixed couples and the problems they face. They write about everything from having issues with holiday traditions to being spat on in the street by strangers. I even recently got a video forwarded to me from a friend, with interviews of interracial couples since the Loving trial in Virginia. As I read these stories, I just don't relate.
Growing up and living in Miami, Florida, there were always mixed couples around, and I grew up around so many different ethnicities that dating exclusively white didn't seem like a necessity. Actually, since I was in the racial minority at my high school, it didn't even seem like a possibility. Today, most of my friends are in interracial marriages, of one form or another, not because we all came together as some sort of support group, but because we all grew up in the same social conditions. So when I read these stories of the terrible things that interracial couples go through elsewhere, I feel very blessed to have grown up in Miami, but then I also wonder what life would be like if we tried to move anywhere else.
The internet is full of horror stories about mixed couples dealing with everything from microaggresions about sex and education and culture to outright and zealous disapproval. I didn't have any relatives disown me, and neither did my wife. None of my friends were surprised, and, like I said, many of them were in similar relationships themselves. I do remember having a conversation on the subject with my cousin's husband, back when I was about thirteen. He must have been at least thirty at the time, and, while I can't remember how the subject came up, he was trying to convince me that the Bible is against interracial dating. He was quoting "Do not be unequally yoked together in marriage" at me, and even at that age, I was pretty well read in my scriptures, and had to tell him that the Bible doesn't say that. He grabbed his Good Book and tried looking it up, but couldn't remember where exactly it was. This is from a Cuban/Hispanic man married to my white cousin. That relationship he doesn't see as interracial at all, so for him, the only sinful relations were between Black and white, apparently. For reference, and just in case it comes up in conversation at any time, the verse he was referring to was 2 Corinthians 6:14, and the wording is "Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers," which is a whole different topic for an entirely different blog post. If I had possessed more rhetorical skill back then, I would have pressed him to say what exactly was unequal in these relationships.
I did have one old lady at church ask me, pretty soon after my wife and I married, why I married a Black woman, and if I couldn't find a white woman to marry. She asked this seated in her pew, right behind another older interracial couple. The wife sitting in front of her almost spun around, but her husband just restrained her and shook his head. But she is a very old woman, a member of a very diverse church with many mixed couples. It's really hard to get mad at her for asking, because she's so old, and, otherwise, very sweet, and obviously losing that battle, based on the demographics around her.
Other than that, I've seen racism in Miami, but never directed at us, so I don't have the same experience that I see in the video or in the articles I read. I remember on our honeymoon, a week long cruise in the Caribbean, we saw so many mixed couples aboard the ship, we started calling it the "Swirl Boat." I guess I'm more aware when I see other mixed couples, and get a sense of comfort from that. I certainly felt that way on our honeymoon. I hope my wife felt it as well, since this is her first (and last, hopefully) interracial relationship. There was one moment, while we were on a snorkeling excursion, that drew attention to our differences, but not exactly for racial reasons. My wife and I were both in peak physical condition on our honeymoon, because we saved sex for after the wedding. Speaking for myself, I wanted that first naked impression to be a powerful one. Apparently, one benefit of having an abundance of melanin is the ability to maintain a youthful appearance, so even though we're only three years apart, my wife always looks considerably younger than she is, while I ... don't.
On the snorkeling boat, there was a really nice lady with a table set up selling some hand-made jewelry, because it's the Caribbean, and everyone has a side hustle. There we are in our swim suits - me in my board shorts, as lean and muscular as I've ever been in my life, my wife in her bikini, literally looking like a supermodel, breaking hearts every time she holds my hand or kisses me on that boat. We tell the lady that we're looking for a necklace for our daughter (from the very beginning, my wife talked about "our" daughter and son, partly because it's just easier, but also from her understanding about how this family worked). The sales woman said, "What?! You no look old enough fi have pickney!" She asked how old the "baby" was, and started laughing when we told her the kids were 12 and 14.
"Me did tink you was one young gyal," she said.
"How young did you think I was?" my wife asked.
"Eighteen, maybe twenty," the lady said.
I looked at my wife, shrugged my shoulders, saw about the same thing, and felt pretty good about myself.
"So, how old did you think I was?" I asked.
The lady paused for a second, "Maybe forty-five?"
I was thirty-eight at the time.
"And what did you think we were doing together?"
"Me tink say you was robbing the cradle, having some fun in the islands."
I'm still not sure if that was a compliment or not, but at least it wasn't about being a mixed couple. The thing is, I became more conscious of that than of our races. I started wondering if everyone on the ship was thinking that. Even so, I loved the way she said it, with no judgment at all. I guess anything goes on the Swirl Boat.
As great as the honeymoon was, we did have to come back to reality, and that's how I feel about Miami sometimes. I know that we live a charmed life here, where mixed couples and interracial marriage are common, and no body stares or says anything negative any more. Mixed kids are seen as beautiful and wholly embraced. But I wonder what life would be like if we had to move somewhere else. As much as I love Miami, it's expensive to live here, and we talk about moving elsewhere when the kids are bigger. We choose our vacation spots based on how we think the racial climate is, whether it's in the US or abroad. I know I've got a certain level of protection here where I grew up, but I wonder If I ever had to leave Paradise, would I be telling some of the same stories I see in these interviews.