It is a sad moment when your eyes are opened to the ugly side of the ones you love. They are flesh and blood. You love them. You don’t want to see anything but the good in them. Yes, there are things about them that you can admit are flaws, but they are flaws like everyone else. Then you look closer and see the darker sides, and it isn’t pretty.
I always knew that my family would not accept someone of a different race as a spouse. I really didn’t think much of it. I had friends of different races, but I never was interested in any to even date. It was the way it was. I never questioned it.
I grew up in the South. I knew there were differences in race. I knew there was a lot of segregation. Some were self-imposed, and some were from traditional lines drawn in our society. As a young child, I did not think too much of it. Most children don’t. I only knew it was horrible for the young children of mixed heritage as the world would never be kind to them.
My junior year of high school, I developed a crush on a young man from India. He asked me to his prom. I was hesitant to tell my mother. I wasn’t sure of her reaction, but she was fine with it. Told me how we would tell Dad since I really didn’t date much. We went out which shocked my siblings. They never thought my parents would agree. I didn’t either. I honestly think they agreed because they knew I shied from serious relationships. I was too young to be thinking of such things.
I heard comments about “those kind”. I didn’t think anything of it as everyone was talked about in one way or another. The difference between me and many others is that I just saw others are different just as I was different than my sister.
Stepping Away From My Raising
Seven years later, I’m married. No, it was not the young Indian. I married a white man from Wisconsin. We lived in Kentucky and Tennessee during the first four years of our marriage. In our church, we had a variety of people including a couple of inter-racial couples. I thought nothing of it despite how I was raised. My parents never said anything overtly derogatory about any race in a way I could understand. In a way, I understood them. They were raised in the deep South during the thirties and forties. They were taught to view people a certain way.
Then I began to realize how much I had grown as a person away from my family. I had become my own person with my own beliefs. I didn’t have to follow in the path of my family. My own paths could be forged, and I am determined to do just that. My friends extended to many races, and because of that I’m learning how deep racism is around me and my life.
My Family’s Future
Now, I have a mixed-race grandbaby. She has Irish/German and Mexican blood. I didn’t think anything of it until my daughter pointed out how protective she is against anyone who hurts her daughter. That includes racial comments.
I know that many prejudices are unnoticed by those who possess them. So I asked my daughter to point out anything I say that would be seemed as racial. I would never want to hurt my beautiful grandbaby. It would break my heart because I wouldn’t mean it. It would be talking with the darker side of upbringing rearing its head.
I want to note that my parents were wonderful. They taught us to respect all people, no matter what they looked like or where they came from. There were just limits no how far that interaction went. They grew up in times where they were taught to keep the races separate. I grew up in times that showed the mingling of those races and the start of seeing a society where there were no race lines. Now we are faced with the reality of those lines and that there is still a ways to go to get them completely erased. That will take several generations.
The future for my family will be different than the past of all our families. We will be part of a future that is brighter. Sad to say, there might be obstacles and struggles. But for those determined the future will be as bright as they desire.