If you are a white person, have you ever thought about braiding a black child’s hair? How about the initial surprise when people realize that this brown boy’s mom is white? Are you OK as a black female bringing a white man to the house? Are you OK with the way people will look and stare or comment?
I’m a 6’1″ Latin male. I’m not too dark, but you can tell I’m different. Sometimes I get pegged as Russian — that’s usually an interesting one. But being in Texas, Hispanic or Mexican is pretty much a good guess. For a brown guy, I’m Americanized. I love hard rock and electronic music. I don’t like any Spanish artists, although I can speak the language. I love college football and basketball, but find baseball and soccer kind of boring. I like arts and crafts, and I’m working on my writing. These aren’t typical characteristics of people like me.
I tend to fit in very well in a white American crowd. So it’s no surprise that I’ve mostly dated white women. Don’t get me wrong; I like Latina women as well as many other ethnicities, but they’re not exactly the majority.
I’ve had good dating experiences since I’ve been healthy enough to date. But something I take for granted is the difficulty that comes with dating someone who is from a minority. Because I’ve always been a minority, and a very Americanized one, I actually don’t ever feel different. But a recent relationship gave me a few insights to share.
Are there any language barriers?
My folks speak very little English. You might have the expectation of a close relationship with your in-laws, and a language difference could be a barrier. Learning a new language is no easy task. So you have to take into consideration what this looks like for you.
Are you OK with new names?
In particular Latin people, we have very Latin last names. If you’re a lady, are you OK with the new name? With what people might think or see on paper? Are you OK with “Wow, Mrs. Gonzalez, awesome!” Are you OK with the attention?
Are you OK having interracial children?
This is a big one. Your children will be different. They could have combined characteristics or favor one parent over the other. Are you OK with something you’re not used to? Are you OK with those slight pauses that come during conversations? (These aren’t ill-willed racist things, but just facts of life where people have expectations based on the parents.)
Are you OK if the family doesn’t approve?
What if your family doesn’t approve? What if they’re not comfortable or used to someone who’s not like them? This relationship will be a learning experience for them. Are you OK with that? Are you patient?
Those are some of the hardships I experienced in a recent long-term relationship.
I would like to ask you to extend grace, as I have extended grace. These challenges aren’t easy for some people, especially if they’ve been raised in a not-so-diverse community. And at times that’s just unavoidable. You walk into a relationship because you like someone, and then the reality of a possible complicated future sets in.
Whatever your ethnicity, you should seriously consider these questions when thinking of dating someone of a different race, or if you’re currently dating someone of a different race.
I’ve always been a minority, and so I don’t feel different. But I will say that if I dated an Asian or an Indian, I would feel different. There would be a language and cultural barrier for me. I ask myself, am I OK with that? Those are good questions for me, because I honestly haven’t thought about it. And because of my brokenness, I might not be ready to face a cultural barrier. So it’s good that I know that BEFORE I get into a relationship.
I will say this though: For the most Gospel-centered people I know, these objections were there too. But they were very small. Christ shined through the other person. That’s what they saw most. And that’s what drew them to each other … and that’s what sustains them in their marriage.
And that’s what makes me hopeful for my future marriage in all circumstances. Christ.