My parents were born and raised in Arkansas in the 1930s, deep in the south. My father joined the Navy when he was 18 and was stationed in San Diego. What a "culture shock" for him!! There were different color skinned people in San Diego!! My dad didn't get to see much of that back home. But my father, being "Mr. Personality" that he is, quickly made friends and soon learned that he had been "misled" back in the south.
My dad made plans to go home to marry my mom, but unfortunately he would be spending all of his money for the trip home. He didn't have no wedding rings for mom :( My dad told his commanding officer he was going home to marry his sweetheart, but without rings, and after his commanding officer now learning that my dad didn't have a wedding ring, took my dad to the local jeweler and cosigned for my dad to buy rings for my mom. He also arranged for my mom and dad to have an apartment in the building where he and his wife lived so "the wives" would not be lonely and my mom would feel like she already had a friend. That man, was a black man. I will never forget my dad telling me that story. He had NEVER had someone be more kind to him in his life who wasn't family. Dad could not even imagine what his life would have been like had he stayed in Arkansas on the farm and not found ALL this knowledge and different cultures that he was embracing. I was blessed to be in a family that were more open-minded than most.
Ultimately, in 1963, my parents settled down in Phoenix, Arizona, right here at this very home I live in today. Growing up in my neighborhood consisted of all races and religions. As kids, you just get up and play together, different skin colors is NEVER even a topic. You know the old saying though, "it just takes one in the bunch to screw it up for everybody?" Well, that's what happened to me....I won't say a specific name, but someone said the "N" word to me when I was 13 years old. I somehow knew it meant something derogatory, just by the way it was said. The next day I asked my mom, in front of a lot of family mind you, what that word meant. My mom politely excused her and I from the room and quickly exited me down the hallway into a bedroom with door closing behind us. I thought I was in sooo much trouble. My mom asked me where I heard that word. I told her. She adamantly, vehemently expressed to me that I was to NEVER NEVER repeat that out of my mouth ever again in my life. No questions asked. When mom says it...NUF SAID!
So when I began dating "out of my race," I was perhaps a little naive. I say naive because I think my parents sheltered me from racism so much that I didn't know what to expect. As I said, my first husband was also African American. I have certainly seen society "change" or be more "accepting" since then, or have I? Back in the 1980s, I encountered a lot of racism. From both sides! I remember my very first encounter. A white woman approached me at the grocery store while I was shopping with my first husband and saying, "what are you doing, don't touch him, you will burn in hell!" I was speechless! We simply walked way. After that day, I had my guard up! A lot of little unpleasant stories like that here and there throughout my life, you can imagine. I too have experienced being the ONLY white person in a huge church in South Central Los Angeles at a funeral with my in-laws, where ALL FOCUS WAS ON THE WHITE GIRL and not so much the dead person in the casket anymore. I was called a "wind-blown girl," amongst other things. My mom gave me the best piece of advice after that trip. She said, "Judy, marriage is hard enough, don't let society make it harder."
NO!! RACE WAS NOT THE REASON FOR OUR DIVORCE!
I met my current husband in 1997. Believe it or not, our first date, YES our FIRST date, was to a family function at his mother's home. He assured me and reassured me there was no racism in his family, his mother's boyfriend was a white man, his sister was dating a white man, his brother's girlfriend was an Indian girl, and just what a big interracial family that he had. True enough! He was right! I felt very comfortable right away. I, however, later learned about hypocrisy :((((( I'll save that for later, but yeah I got robbed with in-laws again!
Married, interracially. What does that really mean? I understand that are skin colors are different, but were all just HUMAN BEINGS. "Visual effect," in a sense, is our first emotion when we meet someone. Never take for granted that your happiness might just be sitting behind the eyes of someone whom you overlooked because of the color of their skin. You will have robbed yourself. Don't fear the unknown, embrace it. We laugh, we cry, we agree, we disagree, we fail, we succeed, we give, we take...but at the end of the day, IT'S JUST MARRIAGE...
FLYS, FLYS, FLYS
YOU CAN'T BEAT ME PUNK...I'M BATMAN!!!