White and the Slightly Darker One
My take on interracial relationships.
What's my take on interracial relationships?
In the Philippines, I grew up knowing people who weren't in love in the most romantic way. Family members viewed love not as love in itself but rather as a necessity or a way to survive. It was so rare to see people who were "in love." It was frequent and normal that broken marriages stayed broken because the idea of a complete family was ideal. Anything about being left or raising children alone kicked a distasteful judgment. The kind of love I saw around my elders didn't entail sweetness, and if it ever did, they never told.
I remember as a kid, I'd see women sitting on the computers on internet cafes, chatting up several different foreigners (mostly Americans) to make some sort of love connection. It was popular and probably still a prevalent trend. The online dating, mail-order bride deal were a lot of Filipina women's weapons to lift up the curse of their impoverished lives and so they'd "fall in love" with some unattractive American man online to alleviate their financial burdens. The men—in which some are even married—are love-struck of course but most of these mail-order women just play pretend. Show a little bit of cleavage there, maybe pan the cam down to their thighs, flirt and talk some sweet empty words, and the next thing you know, they're getting packages and money from the United States. The next checkpoint for them is a wedding dress, a green card, and a citizenship. I met a lot of women like that in the United States, and they'd tell me, "Get you a white man with blue eyes, so you can have pretty babies." However, every time I heard something of the like, it always irritated me somehow. It was so shallow. I knew in my heart that I saw love in the most sincere light and it was not anything I shouldn't take as a plaything, despite my peers and most elders seeing it otherwise.
I moved to the United States, specifically in Virginia, when I was thirteen. The surroundings were overwhelmingly new to me and I knew I was overwhelmingly new to the people around me as well. My tan complexion and the language I spoke set me apart from everyone else. But although everything was new, the perspective of my family about relationships was solid and kept traditional, and that meant no relationships until I graduated college and found a job. As I ran through my confusing teenage years, I was urged not to be in relationships and that I center my focus on my academics, but it didn't take so long for me to gain interest in many different men far different from my own ethnicity. Much to my parents' dismay, I started dating a white man in my last two years in high school.
I was surprised my parents didn't knock my teeth out when they knew I was dating someone. They accepted it with heavy hearts and I guess they didn't know how to go about it. My dad was sleepless for weeks and he couldn't settle, but he hid it well. In exchange for me dating, they set some boundaries I obliged to. I was not able to go to places with my boyfriend alone or stay in the same room with him alone. I couldn't go over to his house; he could only come over to ours with my parents present. It was weird to even hug or hold hands in front of family because that kind of act would dishearten my parents somehow. My affectionate side that I'd typically show to the person I was dating was bottled in. But after all, I understood that my parents only wanted me to still be able to focus on school without any "accidents."
My dad warned me, "You better start adjusting. He's a white, American man." The idea that I had to conform to a different culture and I'd stop being myself as he'd seen from the other Filipina women married to American men bothered him. Like the women telling me to get a white man with blue eyes, my dad pointing out my former partner's ethnicity would make my blood boil.
Soon enough, I understood my dad's fears just in time for the entire family to take a liking to my ex. Because I refused to visit my ex's house several times earlier on in the relationship due to my parent's rules, his family took a very unexpected approach, and the two years dating him was complete hell. His family initially were kind and respectful, but there was something unsettling and fake about their interactions with me. The next thing I knew was I was blamed for everything wrong he did in the household, even if it had nothing to do with me, and many racial slurs and hate against me and my identity as a non-white, non-American girl came flying out the window.
I was told by his mother that I was in America and I needed to start taking up American ways and drown my Filipino identity down the drain. I was threatened by his sister to watch my tone, even if I didn't show her an attitude, or else my mother would lose her job. It was joked about that I was a good for nothing but a baby-maker in the long run that will take all my ex's money. I was told to only be there for citizenship or a green card. I was blamed for everything they involved themselves with that had nothing to do with me. I was reminded I was not American, and I was not accepted. I was viewed as a money-hungry Filipino girl that took advantage of my ex, even though that was not who I am and that is not the person I ever will be.
I remember earlier on in my senior year of high school that I was writing about Loving v. Virginia for my AP Government class. It was a case about an interracial relationship between a black woman (Mildred Jeter) and a white man (Richard Loving), married in Washington D. C. but imprisoned in Virginia for being together. While writing about it, I was reminded of how different I was for my current relationship at the time devalued me for being a different race from theirs. It was ingrained in me then, every time I looked at my ex, that I was different and undesirable because I wasn't white. I'd spend time with him and wonder how much I had to adjust to be accepted. Although I admired and respected interracial relationships, it was just simply not a happy route for me. The entire Americanizing deal was about to rob me of my own upbringing just so I could fit in.
It came to the point that my ex couldn't accept it either, and when rows with his family would arise, though I didn't fight back, he told me that I best dealt with the issue on my own. "What can I do?" he asked. "It's your own problem with them." Then I kicked him out of my life. Two years down the drain with all of their racism. But the damage has been done. My thoughts about America narrowed down and I didn't feel accepted anymore. Being outside of the house and having a white person stare at me would raise my guard up and I'd ready myself up for any kind of racist attack towards me or my family. I never developed any racist feeling against white people but I managed to develop the notion that they'll always look down on me.
I went to college as an engineering student, eager to prove that I was no baby-maker. My ex begged me to come back, but I just didn't feel the same anymore. I met different kinds of men of all races along the way, and some of them showed some interest, but the racial and cultural differences scared me. I realized that the scar I got from such an awful relationship experience not only affected my perspective on white, American families but also to any other ethnicity that isn't mine. I would envision having to meet the parents and if they found out I wasn't the same ethnicity, I pictured being in the same dump all over again in which they would require me to change. For a while, I developed a relationship with a Canadian man, but the fears of being unaccepted were still there and we were two very completely different people that it was very clear to me how different I was from him, race-wise. It was tiring to be aware of such differences and I was ready to drop everything and just settle with someone who is Filipino like me. This mindset was prevalent until I met a classmate, who I didn't realize was going to be my next, and still current, white boyfriend.
He was a man who served in the US Marines. He has a strong knack of patriotism for America. For a while, I thought we were two, very incompatible people because I initially thought that he might be too American for me to where he can't appreciate me and my Asian self. I was afraid that when I had to discuss my culture and my family with him, that it would be something that would blatantly point out our differences to make an evident gap between us.
I spent more time with him and had plentiful conversations about school projects, homework, engineering, science, mathematics, and it then turned to us talking our opinions about people, politics, our pasts, and our present. We found out we have the same humor and we just meshed extremely well. He then asked me out sooner or later, and I said yes, and we've been together ever since.
I was scrolling through Quora one day and found myself answering a lot of questions involving relationships. One of them asked "Can a white man every truly love/care about an Asian woman?" and I sat down and thought for a while. I thought, can two people, not just an Asian woman and a white man, but any interracial couple; can they really love each other? Meeting my boyfriend, I'm sure of my answer already.
Yes, you can. And although that is quite the obvious answer, sometimes there's a lack of reasoning as to why the answer is yes. Being with my boyfriend, I unraveled my past and the stories about myself, far from his experiences being born as an American boy, and he did not make me feel, not even one bit, any different from who he is. We are two people of different cultures and physical aspects, sure, but our morals are the same and no tradition of mine or his tampers with that. We would spend time without barriers and without constant awareness of how we are two completely different races. The only thing we are both aware of is that we make each other happy and we are a couple that loves one another. He would point out to me how awesome our relationship is and how lucky he was a man to be graced with such a bond with me, and it's not because we're awesome because I'm Asian and he's white, but because we love each other.
When I'm with him and I look at him, I'm not reminded of how he is white and has blue eyes. I look at him and he's someone that means so much more. I thought I'd always be reminded how undesirable I am for not being a certain ethnicity, but now I don't even remember. It's like loving someone from my same kind. The difference between him and most of the men I met was that he never grew a sense of liking with me while considering what race I fell in. He sees me as beautiful and he calls me pretty and it has nothing to do with the fact that I'm Asian and that's what he digs but because I'm human and he appreciates my physical features for what they are.
My parents have no reason to worry because I don't feel the need to change myself to make this man happy. Maybe the rest of the world notices that he's white and I'm tan, and we are both not the same race. Maybe for the rest of the world, that's hard to look at and it's something to frown upon, but between him and I, we are aware of our differences but we don't realize it, and we don't have to. It's not a beating thought for us to prioritize in thinking about because we've appreciated one another past our racial differences.
So, what is my take on interracial relationships? It's one of the scariest things because the world is narrow sometimes. People can scorn and hurt you verbally or even physically for being in love. People are still intolerable about it, and they will stay that way if they wish. These bigoted folks will treat it like it's some kind of disease just to not stain their heir of same colors, but they'll miss out the fact that an interracial relationship is a beautiful thing. Not because it promotes diversity but because you realize that we're all human. When you find the right people and you love them past the surface of what the world classifies them to be, racism loses its strength and the invisible line of being segregated evaporates.