Reactions of Others to Interracial Couple

Being in a mixed relationship I expected some surprise from others.  Wikipedia notes the combination of white wife and asian husband is one of the rarest…174,000 compared to 50+ million of white/white so weird looks and stares are expected.  Here are a few memorable reactions…

We live in a large East Coast city.  A few times we’ve had African American women tell us, “You two are going to have such beautiful children.”  I think that is an odd comment, nice but odd.  Are most mixed kids gorgeous?  It seems like that is what the perception is.  I admit I’m curious to see what our future kids will look like as almost everything is possible.  Satya has very dark brown eyes and black hair, but says he has some cousins with blue/green eyes.

At one Indian restaurant, one of the owner’s (a middle-aged man from India) began to reminisce about his Russian ex-girlfriend.  He then asked me what my heritage is.  This all made Satya more than a little uncomfortable.  He thought the man was being too friendly and too nosy.

My mom met Satya for the first time last Christmas.  We met him near baggage claim and he chatted with us for a while before going to pick up his bags.  While he was gone, I asked my mom what she thought of him.  She said simply, “Good choice.”

One of my co-workers, a white middle aged divorced woman, said that she could never imagine dating or marrying someone of a different culture and race.  Some people may never think of the possibility until they see it, I think.

Two days ago we had a more depressing incident.  Satya went to switch over his driver’s license from one state to where we live now.  He brought his folder of paperwork, but the white man behind the counter said, “All the paperwork is too intense…take it to a different office.”  He wouldn’t even look at us and forget about smiling.  We don’t know if he was being lazy or racist or both. 

When I first met Satya I didn’t really think of our relationship being a question of race.  Indians seem to be a mix of nearly all races.  When we went to an Ethiopian restaurant, Satya couldn’t believe how similar Ethiopian food is to South Indian food.  He also has noted that Kannada has a few Chinese words and that fishmen in India use the same kinds of fishing nets as the Chinese.  Roman coins have also been found in his area, so who knows?

For the future, we know that we will probably need to be careful in choosing a place to live.  We will probably stick to cities and nearby suburbs.  We’ve heard stories of people being harassed or killed in some areas just for being in a mixed relationship.  Some of my co-workers have warned me not to visit certain areas of the state with Satya.  We knew that the Southern US was out of the question due to its long struggle with racism.  It still shocks me to hear of incidents in the Northern US and Midwest, but guess I should be more realistic. 

Are we being too cautious?  I don’t know.


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Krutika
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 08:26:02

    Hi..congratulations for getting married..i have a great respect for people who get married interfaith, intercaste, interculture..just blurs the boundaries that v ourselves have created..


  2. minnesotameetskarnataka
    Aug 07, 2008 @ 19:43:12

    Hi Krutika,
    Thanks for the congrats and encouragement! Hope to hear from you some more.


  3. Gori Girl
    Jan 11, 2009 @ 20:24:11

    I think the major harassment is mainly kept to white + black, at least in the US.

    I don’t know if I’ve become more unobservant, or if I just move in different social circles, but I haven’t noticed anyone really checking Aditya and I out in the past year or so. I’m guessing oblivious, tho.


  4. Bryan
    May 22, 2009 @ 16:12:05

    My wife is from Karnataka. After I finished my training in Indianapolis, we moved to a small town in Central Illinois. We have really had no problems here. My wife and I are both Catholics, since Soosi is from the large RC Tamil Catholic community. In a very real way that probably creates a little connection for both of us in our respective regions.

    However, one of my business partners is from north India, and also lives here in this small community. He and his kids have had no problems. It probably depends on where you are from, but I think the Midwest in general is a fairly tolerant place.

    It is good to hear the Midwest is so accepting. Soon we’d like to move either to the Midwest or California. Belonging to a church sounds like a good idea. Does anybody else have any feedback on the Midwest?

    Out on the East Coast we were pretty disgusted with the verdict in the case of the Mexican immigrant who got beaten to death by a group of white teens. He was brutally beaten, but the teens got off with only misdemeanors!

    Also, when Satya’s parents visited his brother in northern NJ and took walks people would yell rude comments to them from their cars.


  5. Gori Girl
    May 28, 2009 @ 13:57:16

    Aditya and I felt rather out of place in small-town Indiana – and there were some counties that I simply refused to stop in while driving through because of their reputation.

    I’ve never had any uncomfortable moments being in an intercultural relationship in California.


  6. Chrissy
    Jun 04, 2009 @ 02:23:31

    i also live in nj. i have had some issues as well. i am from this area though. and don’t plan on moving.

    i am so curious where your co-workers have told you not to go in nj. i live in what many would consider to be a very diverse town and we are very close to a large university.

    but still we have had our issues. and i can relate to most of the experiences described above.

    For my co-workers, rural areas are ones they steer clear of. They do visit Wildwood and Atlantic City, though. The Woodbridge-Edison-Metuchen area is where Satya’s parents got the yells. I was surprised because that area has a lot of Indians so I expected it to be better and more accepting. That area has a lot of Chinese immigrants as well, so it is diverse.

    So who knows?


  7. Chrissy
    Jun 05, 2009 @ 19:24:48

    thanks for the response.
    that is where i live. in the edison area. i am surprised but at the same time not so much.

    the other thing from your posting is….we love ethiopian food. where do you guys go? do you know of any good places in nj????

    There is a really great place in New Brunswick called Makeda. The portions are huge-we made the mistake of ordering two full entrees once. It is a little pricey, but the atmosphere is nice.


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