Gaining Acceptance as a Colorful Couple

Reviewed Jul 20, 2016

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Summary

Support groups and couples counseling are two ways interracial couples can learn to cope with prejudicial attitudes.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of interracial marriages in the United States increased from seven percent to 10 percent of married couples between 2000 and 2010, a 28 percent increase. This sizeable and growing minority is increasing the dialogue about what it means to be a “mixed race” couple in America, and how these couples cope with common prejudices and stereotypes both within their own families and from the public at large.

Filipino-born Sylvie Diaz often dated outside of her racial group. Being in interracial relationships was a non-issue for her and her family. Sylvie’s own mother married an African-American man after moving to the United States. Her extended family was pleased when she announced her engagement to Terry, a white man of European descent. They eagerly welcomed him into their culturally rich family gatherings.

But Sylvie’s entrance into Terry’s family circle was not as smooth.

“My race was an issue before they met me,” says Sylvie of Terry’s parents. “They knew my last name, and that I was of a different race. They even encouraged him to break up with me.”

When Terry first took Sylvie home to meet his parents, their animosity against her was so palpable that afterward she attempted to end the relationship. “They were so against me,” she recalls. “His father even made the comment that if Terry wasn’t so shy, he could have his pick of white girls instead of getting stuck with a ‘colored’ one.”

Fear: the breeding ground of prejudice

The unspoken assumption of many parents that their children will marry within their own racial group can cause deeply held prejudices and unexpected conflicts to arise when that assumption is challenged. Fear that the cultural identity of their family may be threatened by the addition of someone “different,” or just plain ignorance about racial groups other than their own may cause parents to object to the interracial unions of their children.

Although Sylvie and Terry did not perceive their differences as a threat to their relationship, the fact that they created an issue for others forced them to consider the consequences of living as an interracial couple. While the occasional stares of strangers could make them feel mildly uncomfortable, the opposition of Terry’s parents was more difficult to overcome. Their open hostility toward Sylvie forced her and Terry to work hard to overcome the stress that his parents’ prejudice put on their relationship. Psychologists suggest that the type of strong mutual commitment required by partners in such a situation can help make interracial relationships even stronger than others.

Seeking support

Support groups and couples counseling are two ways interracial couples can learn to cope with prejudicial attitudes. Sylvie credits the support of friends and her and Terry’s shared faith with helping them through the early challenges of their relationship. “There are a large number of interracial couples at our church,” she says. “That’s one of the reasons we go there. We feel more at home and can talk to others dealing with the same issues.”

As Sylvie and Terry’s growing commitment to one another led them to consider marriage, they worked hard to gain the consent of Terry’s parents. Once they were husband and wife, Sylvie says that things slowly began to change. “When we were first married, my father-in-law still barely spoke to me,” she says. “But then he began to initiate small talk.”

Six years into their marriage, Sylvie says her relationship with Terry’s parents is much improved. Terry’s father is now more talkative with his daughter-in-law, and often initiates conversation. “I think he is trying to make up for the past,” says Sylvie. “In fact, I now almost feel the reverse of his original animosity."

By Barbara A. Gabriel
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/2010_census/cb12-68.html

Summary

Support groups and couples counseling are two ways interracial couples can learn to cope with prejudicial attitudes.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of interracial marriages in the United States increased from seven percent to 10 percent of married couples between 2000 and 2010, a 28 percent increase. This sizeable and growing minority is increasing the dialogue about what it means to be a “mixed race” couple in America, and how these couples cope with common prejudices and stereotypes both within their own families and from the public at large.

Filipino-born Sylvie Diaz often dated outside of her racial group. Being in interracial relationships was a non-issue for her and her family. Sylvie’s own mother married an African-American man after moving to the United States. Her extended family was pleased when she announced her engagement to Terry, a white man of European descent. They eagerly welcomed him into their culturally rich family gatherings.

But Sylvie’s entrance into Terry’s family circle was not as smooth.

“My race was an issue before they met me,” says Sylvie of Terry’s parents. “They knew my last name, and that I was of a different race. They even encouraged him to break up with me.”

When Terry first took Sylvie home to meet his parents, their animosity against her was so palpable that afterward she attempted to end the relationship. “They were so against me,” she recalls. “His father even made the comment that if Terry wasn’t so shy, he could have his pick of white girls instead of getting stuck with a ‘colored’ one.”

Fear: the breeding ground of prejudice

The unspoken assumption of many parents that their children will marry within their own racial group can cause deeply held prejudices and unexpected conflicts to arise when that assumption is challenged. Fear that the cultural identity of their family may be threatened by the addition of someone “different,” or just plain ignorance about racial groups other than their own may cause parents to object to the interracial unions of their children.

Although Sylvie and Terry did not perceive their differences as a threat to their relationship, the fact that they created an issue for others forced them to consider the consequences of living as an interracial couple. While the occasional stares of strangers could make them feel mildly uncomfortable, the opposition of Terry’s parents was more difficult to overcome. Their open hostility toward Sylvie forced her and Terry to work hard to overcome the stress that his parents’ prejudice put on their relationship. Psychologists suggest that the type of strong mutual commitment required by partners in such a situation can help make interracial relationships even stronger than others.

Seeking support

Support groups and couples counseling are two ways interracial couples can learn to cope with prejudicial attitudes. Sylvie credits the support of friends and her and Terry’s shared faith with helping them through the early challenges of their relationship. “There are a large number of interracial couples at our church,” she says. “That’s one of the reasons we go there. We feel more at home and can talk to others dealing with the same issues.”

As Sylvie and Terry’s growing commitment to one another led them to consider marriage, they worked hard to gain the consent of Terry’s parents. Once they were husband and wife, Sylvie says that things slowly began to change. “When we were first married, my father-in-law still barely spoke to me,” she says. “But then he began to initiate small talk.”

Six years into their marriage, Sylvie says her relationship with Terry’s parents is much improved. Terry’s father is now more talkative with his daughter-in-law, and often initiates conversation. “I think he is trying to make up for the past,” says Sylvie. “In fact, I now almost feel the reverse of his original animosity."

By Barbara A. Gabriel
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/2010_census/cb12-68.html

Summary

Support groups and couples counseling are two ways interracial couples can learn to cope with prejudicial attitudes.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of interracial marriages in the United States increased from seven percent to 10 percent of married couples between 2000 and 2010, a 28 percent increase. This sizeable and growing minority is increasing the dialogue about what it means to be a “mixed race” couple in America, and how these couples cope with common prejudices and stereotypes both within their own families and from the public at large.

Filipino-born Sylvie Diaz often dated outside of her racial group. Being in interracial relationships was a non-issue for her and her family. Sylvie’s own mother married an African-American man after moving to the United States. Her extended family was pleased when she announced her engagement to Terry, a white man of European descent. They eagerly welcomed him into their culturally rich family gatherings.

But Sylvie’s entrance into Terry’s family circle was not as smooth.

“My race was an issue before they met me,” says Sylvie of Terry’s parents. “They knew my last name, and that I was of a different race. They even encouraged him to break up with me.”

When Terry first took Sylvie home to meet his parents, their animosity against her was so palpable that afterward she attempted to end the relationship. “They were so against me,” she recalls. “His father even made the comment that if Terry wasn’t so shy, he could have his pick of white girls instead of getting stuck with a ‘colored’ one.”

Fear: the breeding ground of prejudice

The unspoken assumption of many parents that their children will marry within their own racial group can cause deeply held prejudices and unexpected conflicts to arise when that assumption is challenged. Fear that the cultural identity of their family may be threatened by the addition of someone “different,” or just plain ignorance about racial groups other than their own may cause parents to object to the interracial unions of their children.

Although Sylvie and Terry did not perceive their differences as a threat to their relationship, the fact that they created an issue for others forced them to consider the consequences of living as an interracial couple. While the occasional stares of strangers could make them feel mildly uncomfortable, the opposition of Terry’s parents was more difficult to overcome. Their open hostility toward Sylvie forced her and Terry to work hard to overcome the stress that his parents’ prejudice put on their relationship. Psychologists suggest that the type of strong mutual commitment required by partners in such a situation can help make interracial relationships even stronger than others.

Seeking support

Support groups and couples counseling are two ways interracial couples can learn to cope with prejudicial attitudes. Sylvie credits the support of friends and her and Terry’s shared faith with helping them through the early challenges of their relationship. “There are a large number of interracial couples at our church,” she says. “That’s one of the reasons we go there. We feel more at home and can talk to others dealing with the same issues.”

As Sylvie and Terry’s growing commitment to one another led them to consider marriage, they worked hard to gain the consent of Terry’s parents. Once they were husband and wife, Sylvie says that things slowly began to change. “When we were first married, my father-in-law still barely spoke to me,” she says. “But then he began to initiate small talk.”

Six years into their marriage, Sylvie says her relationship with Terry’s parents is much improved. Terry’s father is now more talkative with his daughter-in-law, and often initiates conversation. “I think he is trying to make up for the past,” says Sylvie. “In fact, I now almost feel the reverse of his original animosity."

By Barbara A. Gabriel
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/2010_census/cb12-68.html

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