I’ve written extensively about my experiences as a Southerner. I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and grew up in a small rural town outside of the state’s capital. You can’t avoid race there. It affects everyone, young and old.
My good friend Jennifer pointed me to a video series from the Baton Rouge Advocate, titled Living Interracial. The project is comprised of video interviews of 11 interracial couples, four stories and two photo galleries. Watching all of the videos made me very emotional. Partly because I empathize with struggles and resistance the couples faced. Partly because they still experience backlash because they fell in love with someone of a different race. Some of the couples were only recently married, in 2011.
The video above is of Bernell and Kristy Smith. Bernell and I attended high school together, though he was a year ahead of me. I didn’t really know him, but in a community as small as ours, you sort of “knew” everyone. I do remember that he’s always had a great sense of humor.
Watching Jeffery Braxton speak about his wife Vivian’s stepson reaffirmed my decision not to raise my kids in Louisiana. Vivian’s son is mixed, Asian and African American. His stepson was bullied because of his looks. Jeffery tells his stepson that when others look at him, they see him as black kid. Even if his mother is Asian. That could easily happen to Sophia and Jaxson if we were living in Louisiana. It’s a lesson I’m not ready for my kids to learn. There’s an eye opening story about the unique challenges mixed race kids face in the South.
Warren and Sherri Crockett plan their lives a bit differently. Warren shares that they don’t take any back roads or stop at mom and pop shops when they travel. They don’t want to take any chances of being harassed. The don’t say it, but I have a feeling that they still experience that kind of harassment. I remember getting funny looks from people when hubby and I would stop to get gas or grab food from a fast food joint. Like my husband and I, Warren and Sherri kept their relationship hidden for a long time. They wouldn’t hold hands in public. When my husband and I went out together in Baton Rouge, I would only hold his hands only if I was sure that no one from my family would be there.
I’m very impressed that The Advocate put together this project. These couples are very brave to share their story publicly. The range of couples is very diverse: young, old, newlywed, etc. Some were born and raised in Louisiana, others moved there as adults. They even interview John and Carol Zippert, who were Louisiana’s first interracial marriage.
Do you think their experiences are unique to the South?
This article is how I found this blog! I am using this as supporting evidence to give the hubby as to why we should move out of Baton Rouge. The amount of discrimination here is unreal. My toddler has already begun to feel the harsh realities of being multiracial in the south.
Aloha. My Mexican-American husband and I celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary on Aug. 29, 2019. I’m black.
We are military and live in Honolulu, Hawaii. We have three children total, one each from prior relationships and one child together.
We made a vow that divorce was not an option. We have survived through many trials and tribulations. We never hid our relationship from our families but we did experience immediate racism from my husbands mother. She has since passed without ever getting to meet our child. It still breaks my heart because it didn’t have to be that way. As expected, my family fell in love with my husband.
Living in Hawaii isn’t perfect for everyone but for us, it was the best decision for us. There is plenty of racial diversity here. We know this diversity has made our interracial marriage more rich and the acceptance we experience here has made our lives better. We never focused on “haters” or it’s cousins “racism” and “ignorance”.
As a black woman, I focused on teaching my biracial daughter about her black heritage to the best of my ability, while her Daddy took care of teaching her about her Mexican heritage. Living in Hawaii, our kids learned to appreciate many cultures besides their own.
My husband and I recently began our journey into life as “empty nesters” after sending our youngest off to college. We know that as individuals “we” and the world around us has changed, a lot, but with that knowledge we look forward to celebrating many more years of of growth in our marriage.
As parents, we taught our children that love has many layers, but the bottom layer is founded on the strength of knowing who you are.
As a couple, we focused on strengthening our love through always giving each other respect and showing reverence and appreciation of each of our cultures. We didn’t give outsiders, even our own families, the ability to have any control over our love for one another.