Useless Thoughts Running Through My Head

various musings of a generation x kad

“Living In Color”

Posted by thoughtful1 on April 15, 2007

The Boston Globe Sunday magazine printed this column today:

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/magazine/articles/2007/04/15/living_in_color/

Its author, Calvin Hennick, is a white man married to a black woman. He writes about their experience living in Harlem. Sadly, while their marriage is legal throughout the entire US, unlike 40 years ago, before the Supreme Court ruled on Loving v. Virginia, interracial marriage is not universally accepted. But the experience helped Hennick understand better his wife’s life as a black woman in the US.

I cannot imagine a life where just running an errand with my boyfriend or husband would provoke harassment and violence – it is outside my experience. It’s sad that racism, a stupid social construct with real life implications, can cause people to view a couple, minding their own business, with such derision, and to make judgments on the white husband’s motivations for marrying his wife. On the one hand, I can see where they are coming from – history is full of relationships tainted with inequality caused by race. A white man with a non-white woman can trigger various thoughts. Is he with her because he has a sex fetish for Asians/blacks/etc.? Is she with him because she doesn’t like men of her own kind, and by extension, herself? But, the reality is, people are people, and while racism exerts an often unnoticed influence, men and women will still fall in love, and can you really choose the color of your spouse? And how can you so quickly pass judgment on a couple you see on the street, whom you don’t even know?

But perhaps this is all easy for me to say. I’m an Asian raised by white people. I’ve lived my entire life on the other side of the race line. I grew up seeing white people as whole people, not as people who have done nothing but beat me down. Nor have I been kept down by white people to the point that I cannot support myself and live a comfortable life. Yes, there were a few assholes along the way, but most people in my life have had either a neutral or positive influence. And I was raised without any family history of being racially oppressed. (For all I know, some 17th century ancestor stole land from a Native American tribe, so I could very well have family history of racially oppressing…)

I guess what I’m really getting at is that I cannot truly understand what is in the hearts of those who treated this couple with scorn because I have not lived the same life they have. But, it is a sad thing that racism is able to cause that kind of scorn.  Racisim drives a wedge between people and fractures society as a result.

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