More Interracial Couples in the Future?

The New York Times just published an article about how there seems to be a bias for boys among some immigrant groups in the U.S.  The article in particular focused on the Chinese, Indians, and Koreans, as groups that seem to have this bias.  (The article also noted that Middle Easterners also have a bias towards boys, but did not mention which specific ethnic groups nor did it show the exact statistical numbers for Middle Easterners.)

 The article mentioned that among other groups in the U.S., people seem to have a preference for girls.  People in the U.S. will say things like, “Girls are less trouble than boys”.  Also, I think in the U.S. people also think that girls are more likely than boys to care for elderly parents.

Will there be more mixed couples in the future?  Maybe.  All those boys will have to marry somebody someday, right?

Good Luck for Babies

Satya’s sister is with us this week.  So far, having her over has been a lot of fun (perhaps too much fun as we were up until the early morning a few times).  She finally saw her niece for the the first time yesterday. 

She shared some ways that babies traditionally are protected from evil in India.  One way is for the parents to put a small mark on the baby’s face.  This can be done with eyeliner or something similar.  To me, this sounds like what I’ve heard about some Muslim art and carpets–people are afraid of something being perfect and offending God so they create a small imperfection to keep humility.  The difference I guess is that here you’d be protecting the baby from demons and not from God thinking you have too much hubris.  Any thoughts?

The second way is to put a small bracelet of black beads on the baby’s wrist.  I will have to ask about the importance of the color black.  Why not blue?  Or red?  Colors are important in bracelets…green bangles=wedding, for example.  (It is also interesting to me that a wife’s mangalsutra also has black beads).

My sister in law also mentioned ear piercing.  So far, the baby’s ears remain unpierced.  My sister in law thinks it is more practical to get it done early, rather than have it be a traumatic experience when my niece is a teenager.  Myself, my parents had me wait until I was 13.  At 13 I could decide for myself.  No matter how much I begged, they wouldn’t move that date (not for 12, not for 12.5).  I remember feeling thrilled when I got my ears pierced, not traumatized.

I doubt our niece will actually wear any of these things, though.  Satya’s brother (the father) is not religious or traditional at all.  My other sister in law, (the mother )is Protestant and not Indian.  It will be interesting to see what kinds of decisions they make about raising their inter racial daughter.

For now, my niece is doing well, is meticulously cared for, and is tremendously loved so we are all grateful.

I’m an Aunt!

Late Wednesday evening, my niece was born.  She is the daughter of Satya’s brother and his wife.  Satya’s brother’s wife is also white-she is half French and half German.  Luckily, everything went smoothly without too many complications.  The mother started having contractions midnight Wednesday, went to the hospital around noon, had an epidural in the afternoon, and the baby was finally born around 10 pm. 

The baby is over 6 lbs and nearly 21 inches long.  She has lots of very dark, curly hair.  Satya is convinced the baby will look like his brother and like his mom-eyes, nose, shape of face.  I’m not sure yet.   I think the baby will have his brother’s eyes.  My sister in law is convinced the baby has Satya’s brother’s hands.  Satya thinks that the baby has his sister in law’s jaw line.  We will see. 

We were fortunate enough to see the proud parents and baby an hour after the birth.  The mother was pretty much wiped out exhausted sitting up in bed.  The father was walking around holding his new daughter proudly staring at her and showing her off.  The mother’s parents were there too.  The room did have a sacred feel to it somehow.  I feel lucky to have been with them for a few minutes. 

For Satya, he is extremely proud and happy that he is now an uncle.  He very much wants to see the baby again.  

It is interesting because both they and we are intercultural couples and we both have very different ways of dealing with those issues.  Everybody is different and not just culture, but personality plays a lot into it.  The new parents did take a lot of care to choose a name for the baby that works for both cultures.   The baby is named after a Hindu saint and name somewhat common in the U.S. as well.

Ideally, for the labor I’d want my mom with me as she has gone through it 4 times (3 times completely naturally) and maybe Satya to be there (I worry about him being grossed out though).  I know now he definitely does not want to cut the umbilical cord.  He definitely wants his parents to be close by-in the waiting room and with us soon after the birth.  I feel ok about that because his parents are not pushy and I know they would want to be there to share the moment with us.  I want the baby to be baptized and he wants the baby to have a naming ceremony and the ceremony where the baby receives its own Linga.  We do not know what ceremonies his brother’s baby will receive. 

 

We shall see…………

Why is that Santa Black?

A small anecdote about race…

 

I work for a small branch in a huge, urban public library system.  Last Christmas the supervisor for the libraries in this area gave our branch a present….a plastic Santa face to put up as decoration.  Earlier this week, a kindergarten class came to the library for their regular visit.  One kid, very smart but sometimes irritating because he loves attention a little too much, asked, “Why is that Santa black?” 

 

The child was African-American as are most of the libraries patrons…..In fact, I’d say that 80-95% of the people who use this neighborhood library are African-American.  Out of a class of 22 kids, maybe 1 will be Caucasian. 

 

Anyway, the question took me aback.  The class was on its way out the door and I was a little flustered so the best I could come up with was to say, “Why not?  Why shouldn’t the Santa be black?”  I was also curious as to why he thought Santa’s must be white.  I guess he always saw Santa represented as white.  If I had more time perhaps I would have said something like, “Santa represents generosity and hospitality.  Santa never really existed, but everyone can be like Santa by being generous, hospitable, and cheerful.”  I also didn’t want to be the one to break it to him that Santa doesn’t exist. 

 

What would you have said to a six year old asking, “Why is that Santa black?”

What does this say about India and the U.S.?  For me, it was a reminder that kids notice everything.  When Satya and I have a child, we will have to make some conscious decisions about what we show our child.  Will we have a white Santa or a brown Santa?  I don’t know.  St. Nicholas was from Turkey so if we want to be historically accurate a brown Santa would be best.  On the other hand, my Caucasian family is the one that celebrates Christmas, not his Indian one.

Our MultiCultural Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! 

 

A while back some people asked me to blog about how Satya and I will be celebrating Christmas this year.  This year will be a bit different because we aren’t celebrating it in Minnesota with my family.

 

My aunt seems a little worried that I’ll turn my back on my Catholic upbringing.  For my birthday this year she gave me: cloth Christmas placemats and napkins, an Advent wreath, and some homemade soap from a monastery (smells like Christmas soap), and a batch of her special 7 Step Bars (one of my favorite sweets). 

 

Advent wreaths count down the weeks until Christmas.  The first Sunday of Advent one candle is lit.  This past weekend was the fourth Sunday so all candles were lit.  The third Sunday of Advent always has a pink candle.  The other candles are all either purple or blue-the colors of advent. Each Sunday has a name and a special theme.  For example, the third Sunday is called “Gaudete” which means “Rejoice” because soon Christmas will arrive.  The Advent wreath also came with prayers to say while lighting the candles.  Each week has a different prayer.  When I was a kid, we would make Advent wreaths in Wednesday night religion class and be sent home with prayers to say. 

 

Each Christmas season sometime after Thanksgiving my mom’s family would start baking.  They’d make fudge, gingerbread, spritz cookies, lemon bars, plantation bars, 7 Step Bars (graham cracker crust, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, coconut and more), and more.  On the weekends when we’d come to my grandparent’s house for Sunday Supper we’d play games and watch movies and eat lots of sweets.  The sweets would be stored in empty Blue Bunny ice cream buckets and put in “the cold room”-the coldest room of the upstairs near the attic where there was no heat.  This year, since we aren’t making it back, my aunt sent me my favorite kind.  Someday I’m sure I will make 7 Step bars with my own kids.  Luckily, Satya likes them too.

 

We did get a Christmas tree.  We got ours about two weeks ago.  It was a journey!  First we went to Home Depot because we heard they had $30 trees.  We didn’t like any of their trees.  Then, we went to Lowe’s.  Their trees weren’t much better, but they were on sale and we found a cute round one.  It was also bitterly cold outside-the wind was blowing hard.  We asked Lowe’s for a tree stand, but they sold out.  We went back to Home Depot but they also had sold out.  2 weeks before Christmas!!  Then we tried Target.  At Target we found some cute ornaments and some great multi-colored lights, but no tree stand. We even got so desperate as to go to Whole Foods because they had a lot of Christmas trees for sale.  They too were sold out of tree stands.  After Whole Foods, we got so sick of the whole thing we decided to go across the river to New Jersey.  We raced back to our apartment, put the tree in a mixing bowl in the tub so it wouldn’t dry out too much and then continued our search.  We had to drive almost an hour, but the first place we tried did have a tree stand. They sold out of their metal tree stands, but still had plenty of the plastic kind. 

 

Then, we decided to eat at one of our favorite South Indian restaurants, but it was packed so we walked down to an Italian one.  We returned home, put the tree in the stand and then decorated it.  When we were finished at roughly 12:30 am, Satya got on Skype and showed his parents our tree.  It was our first tree as a couple and Satya’s first Christmas tree period. 

 

Ornaments:  We got our ornaments at Pier 1, Target and A.C. Moore.  Pier 1 has some gorgeous ornaments.  We found a simple angel holding a harp go at the top of the tree. At Pier 1 I found a red bird ornament complete with green glitter to outline the wings and bright red tail feathers.  My grandmother had Christmas ornaments from her family going back to the ’20s and ’30s.  Some of my favorites were the delicate bird ornaments.  She even had little nests to go with the birds!  We also found the obligatory “Merry Christmas 2008” ornament to commemorate our first Christmas tree and first Christmas married.  Satya’s ornament taste runs more to the rustic.  He loves cabins for some reason.  One of his picks was a little house painted dark red with a tin roof.  Maybe some day we will have a little red cabin…We did try to find a star to go on top the tree. Stars and angels are the most popular choices for tree toppers.  Also, stars are more multicultural for us than angels since Hindu representations of angels don’t look like Christian representations of angels.  Stars are basically stars though and stars are also very important for Deepauli.  Once we find one we like we’ll replace the angel.  Other ornaments are a red reindeer, sled, white owl, and a beaded reindeer.  We have about 12 ornaments.  I figure that as the years go by we will slowly gather more. 

 

Tonight we plan on traveling to be with the family of my sister-in-law.  Her family is from Argentina so we will be having a very multicultural celebration.  We will be doing a simple gift exchange and eating lots of food.  Satya mentioned going to midnight Mass, but I don’t think anybody else is Catholic besides me.  We might try to find one, or may not.  Going to church does make Christmas seem more real-my favorite time of year for churchgoing was always Advent and the Christmas Season.

Names

What are your favorite Hindu names?  Satya and I like to day dream about the future and think about what we’d name our hypothetical children.   This day is a few years off, but it is still fun.

 

We have a few names for girls, but are having a tough time with boy names.  Also, we’d like to keep close to our family’s naming traditions.  In my family everyone is named after a saint and after a beloved family member.  This isn’t too hard to stick too because nearly all Western names are matched to a saint.  It does eliminate newer names like Britney or Ashley.

 

My favorite grandfather’s name was “Valentine” which is a name that I think would work for a girl.  Satya is afraid of that name—he thinks that if we give a girl that name she will take after her name too much and if we gave the name to a boy that he’d get bullied at school.

 

 

In Satya’s family it is a bit different.  All the men in his family of his generation and back are named after an incarnation of Shiva and end in either “esh” or “ish”.  He says that kids should not be given the name of a beloved elder because it would be disrespectful to use the elder’s name when scolding the child. 

 

His cousins who recently had kids are changing this up a bit.  Maybe Lingayat name fashions are changing?  His cousins selected names for their children that aren’t related to a god or godess, but are related to a positive quality.  One of the names translates to “Long life” and another to “Success”. 

 

Our girl name is “Anushka” or “Anoushka” because it is both a Slavic European name and a Sanskrit name.  Also, it can be shortened to “Anu” which is a common name in Karnataka.  The middle name isn’t decided yet.  Satya kind of likes the name “Kiran”, but I’m not sure.

 

One of my sisters and I created a name from the middle names of our beloved grandfathers.   We came up with “Blaise Eric”, but Satya thinks that is a terrible name.  I suppose it does seem a bit too “romance novel” like.  Also, he would be creeped out by giving them the names of my dead grandfathers. 

 

We haven’t found any boy names yet that we both like.  Does anyone have any suggestions?

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.