Mixed Race Marriage/Mixed Race Children

The July 2014, AARP magazine reported that 15% of new marriages in the United States are mixed race marriages. Oh how times have changed! I don’t know what that percentage was when I married Al, an African-American man, in 1971, but it certainly was nowhere near 15%. Mixed marriage was even illegal in some places in the U.S. until 1967.

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Our wedding was in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, but we moved to Seattle immediately afterwards.

Prior to our marriage, I was working at Highline County Hospital in Oakland. Just before I left for Seattle, an African-American colleague took me aside and advised me to keep my marriage a secret once I obtained a nursing job in Seattle. She said that if the hospital administration found out I had married a black man, I would be fired. Naturally, that news was very unsettling.

Al and I moved into an apartment on Capitol Hill, an area of Seattle that is very diverse. The fear that was stirred up by my Oakland colleague’s advice evaporated, for the most part, once I had settled into my new home.  While it was not unusual for people to look at us, I do not remember anyone being hostile.

Her words did stick with me though so I decided to heed her warning and not risk my job.  No one at my place of employment knew I was in a mixed marriage. I worked at the new hospital for a year, and then decided to go back to school to earn a Master of Nursing degree. Shortly before I left that job, I learned that my hospital supervisor, who was white, was married to a black man!

I was both astounded and impressed. She was in her 50’s, so she probably married at a time when mixed marriage was almost unheard of.  She had likely experienced considerable prejudice.

I stopped working at the hospital about the time I learned that information, so never had a chance to talk with her about her marriage or mine, but that knowledge definitely kept me from feeling paranoid in the future. I had spent the year feeling fear that had been completely unnecessary.  And I had robbed myself of a valuable mentor.

Chaitanya and Sreejit in the 70's

In 1973, we bought a house on Beacon Hill. That neighborhood was mostly Asian but there were also plenty of African-Americans and Caucasians.  When we had children, Michael and Kristy (now called Sreejit and Chaitanya), they went to the grade school a block away, a school that was known for its diversity. They had plenty of friends, and their racial background was not an issue.

As they got older, people often wondered what race my children were, since it is often difficult to tell when people are from mixed races.  Sreejit, as an adult, has talked about not being accepted totally into either black or white groups during his childhood.  He shares his experience in the post Before There Was Multicultural.

I mentioned earlier that while no one was hostile, people certainly looked us over.  The looks increased once our children were born.  I remember reading a story in Readers Digest that really helped me cope with those looks.

The story was about a woman who was raising a mixed race child. She was really bothered by all of the people who looked at her, then looked at her child, and again looked back at her. One day she couldn’t take it any longer. When she was the subject of one of those “looks”, she lost her temper and screamed at the woman who was staring at her. When her tirade was over, the woman told her that she was also raising mixed race children.  She went on to say that as she gazed at the mother and child, she had been wondering what their life experience was like.

That story stuck with me.  I think of it frequently even today, especially when I am the one looking at mixed race children and their parents, feeling curious about their lives.

I love the choices I have made in my life.  My children are wonderful.  They are beautiful, smart, talented and loved by many.  They live a life of service to the world.  While in time my marriage to Al ended, we did a great job of raising our children together even though we were divorced, and are currently re-establishing our friendship from long ago.

*****

As I learned more about Sreejit’s childhood experiences, it occurred to me I could use WordPress to look for information about the lives of other mixed raced children. I found some very interesting posts.  If you are interested in learning more, check out some of these:

My Experience Living with Two Racial Backgrounds (and why I love it)

As Black As We Wish To Be

What Are You?  Being a Multiracial Woman in America

Mixed Race Mum

Kids React To A Multiracial Family Model

National Geographic Concludes What Americans Will Look Like in 2050

 

 *****

 

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31 thoughts on “Mixed Race Marriage/Mixed Race Children

  1. ‘She said that if the hospital administration found out I had married a black man, I would be fired.’

    Truly, this is shocking to me as someone from England, where even in ’71, this would never have happened, nor could it have, for legal reasons.

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    1. I don’t think it would have happened in Oakland or Seattle, even in 1971. As I think back on that incident now, I wonder if she might have been from the Deep South. Those would have been the states where interracial marriage was so unacceptable, and in some cases illegal.

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    1. Those are such wonderful words “Now no one cares.” Thanks for writing them.

      My post “Tearing at the Fabric of Racism” was originally a guest post on my son’s blog: http://theseekersdungeon.com/2014/01/12/tearing-at-the-fabric-of-racism-guest-post-5-karuna-poole/.

      So many people commented on that post. Several people mentioned that a photograph of their family looks like a photograph of the United Nations, Such a great example of “yes, even this too will pass.”

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      1. What was stunning then is now… What? They said what to you? People mock my idea of saying this too will pass and I delete the mean spirited comments… You are of the few who actually visit my blog.. Om Tat Sat Om

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      2. You said: “What was stunning then is now… What? They said what to you?” I’m not sure what you are referring to so I don’t know how to respond.

        I like your “this too will pass” and I thought this post was a good example of that process. What was illegal in the sixties is now so common and perfectly fine with a good percentage of people today; not everyone of course.

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      3. People write some pretty miserable comments about my saying this too will pass.. Like it’s just a cliche but for me I live by it.. Oh well.

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    1. People often ask if I adopted my kids, or assume that I did.

      Both of my adult children love introducing me as their mom. It is fun watching the confusion or surprise that people momentarily feel, but it isn’t negative at all.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I know that feeling :). But sometimes it’s sad when you see other parents pulling their child away when they try to make friends with my kids.
        My older daughter once asked me if her skin color is nice and I said of course! Some people would do anything to get such a gorgeous tan 🙂

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      2. Yes, it is very sad that people would pull their kids away from yours. And I would be angry too. Luckily I never had that experience. Do you live in an area where there is a lot of prejudice still?

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      3. I’m so sorry that you and your kids are having those kinds of experiences. I hope Malaysia continues to open up. And I hope they get a lot of acceptance in addition to the people that are hostile.

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      4. Thank you for your encouraging words. It is our hope too the people in Malaysia will be awaken and be united towards making this country a better place to live 🙂

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  2. I have several friends who are in mixed race marriages. I must admit, I often stare because the children from these unions are often some of the most beautiful children I have ever seen. Someday I really hope we live in a world where color is not noticed and the humanness in all of us forms a bond that can erase what makes us so different in appearances but the same in spirit. Love this post and I glad you shared your story 😉

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  3. Thanks for sharing your story. My second husband was previously married to a Japanese woman and together they adopted mix race African American children, who were grown at the time of our marriage. They were raised in a part of Chicago that welcomed mix race marriages and children. One daughter married an African American man and has two delightful children. the other married a white man. I was born in the South as was my second husband, but left behind what I was taught about race, as did he. I loved my mixed race step family and was glad to be a part of their lives..

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    1. We are getting there I think, slowly! Yes it definitely would be beautiful.

      And I experience that now it my world with Amma. People of all faiths and races come together in unity of purpose, spiritual development and service to the world.

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  4. Thank you for sharing this post as well as the additional information, which I bookmarked for further reference. I have a five-hear-old bi-racial granddaughter, African-American/Caucasian. My son has sole custody, but she spends some weekends and vacation time with her maternal grandmother and nine-year-old white brother. As she gets older, we find that she is asking more questions trying to ,even at this young age, help her feel comfortable with her mixed race. We are all working together, as a family, to ensure that her concerns are properly addressed. My husband has three bi-racial nieces, now adults, so we are relying on them for help. My friend, The Librarian, that I posted about in May has a 30+ year-olld mixed race son. The information she has shared has been quite helpful as well.

    I will certainly forward your post to my son and her grandmother as an additional resource. I learn so much blogging. It’s an education — a great educational experience, in fact.

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    1. I think they will find some of the other posts I listed valuable as well…… and encouraging!

      I have learned so much in the time I’ve been blogging too! It is a wonderful educational tool.

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  5. I enjoyed this post, Karuna, for many reasons. Your writing it always so fresh as you take the reader along a path of your life so we can see a glimpse of what you saw, also it makes me reflect and be more aware not only of how ‘others’ perceive things but reminders of what I am seeing looking out of my window of life experience. If only we had the courage and come out and ask if we had questions? ¸…blogging does offer that opportunity.

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