21 March 2007


Kelly posed the following question on her blog and my short comment turned into a long comment. So I decided to make it a post. Following is Kelly's question and my response.

Have you ever done the "Un-American" thing and dated someone of another race? How did your family feel about it? Did you ever reject dating someone because they were ethnically different from you? Why? Have you ever wished you had the opportunity to do the "Un-American" thing if you've never done it before? Please let me know?

I have done the un-American thing. I’m Caucasian and I’ve dated men who are African-American, Pilipino, Hispanic, Japanese, Israeli, etc. For me it’s always been about who he is, not about what he is. I’m certainly not going to claim that I don’t see race (like Stephen Colbert :) or that it hasn’t been a issue in any of my relationships but it’s never been THE issue.

My family’s been cool, for which I feel lucky. Much of my family (they’re all from Louisiana and Mississippi) is very racist but my branch of the family has never been very close with that branch. My daughter, who is multi-racial (who isn’t?), has been wholeheartedly accepted into the family with none of her treatment or my family’s feelings toward her based on race (as far as I can tell). I do have one great aunt who, when told, said, “It was only a matter of time before we had one in the family.” I think the members of my family who are obviously racist are more like her, latent, ignorant racism, not the loud, marching in hoods, full of venom kind which I guess is something.

The hardest issue I’ve had with race is coming to terms with the fact that because my daughter has brown skin, I can never know what it’s like for her. Because of the shade of our skin people will make assumptions and treat us differently and I can listen to her and try to comfort her but I can never experience it. We want to protect our children from as much as we can but I wonder how I will protect her from something with which I can’t even identify.