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Blogging about Culture and Interracial Marriages

As people around the world get closer through modern technology, and cultural and racial barriers give way to mutual understanding and respect; and interracial marriages are becoming more common. A number of mixed race and religion families are sharing their experiences in the blogosphere. To look at a culture and country through the eyes of an outsider is a learning experience.

At InterracialMarriage, the blogger-an Australian male is married to a Chinese woman who happens to be an atheist. Writing about the way they celebrated Christmas as family with their son, he finds himself in a fix trying to make sense of his wife's atheist views and belief in traditional Chinese rituals.

“Ms B may not believe in God because of a lack of proof, but this does not stop her believing in Luck, or in Feng Shui, or in Numerology, or in any other number of cultish beliefs that seem to have widespread basis within the Chinese community.

I sometimes notice Ms B performing strange rituals at home to ward off Bad Luck, and she has even cost us a lot of money in re-positioning our front and back doors, in order to capture Good Luck in our home through good Feng Shui.

Now I too see no basis in these beliefs, but I tolerate them for Ms B's sake. I guess this is what she too does for me with my religion.”

When it comes to a foreign culture reading between lines does not come easily, it seems; even when you marry someone from that culture. But what do you do when you try to embrace your significant other's cultural practices and end up standing out among colleagues?

At GoriGirl the blogger, a white woman married to an Indian Bengali man, shares her experience of “wearing sindoor as a white woman”. Hindu married women wear Sindoor (vermilion power) on their forehead and this practice is common in many parts of India and Nepal. But how about the practice in Washington DC?

“No, my problem with wearing sindoor is that most days I’m headed into work where there are a fair number of Indian people. And none of them wear traditional Indian clothing, except for the occasional short kurta – certainly there isn’t any sindoor-wearing going on among the married ladies! One older Bengali coworker even expressed amazement that I followed the “old-fashioned” tradition of wearing a loha – a gold-plated iron bangle that serves as a wedding ring among Bengali women – on my left wrist daily.

…………On the third hand (yes, yes, I know), the last time I wore sindoor to the office, my boss wanted to know if I needed a band-aid for the cut on my head. Yeah. Yeah, I know. Does anyone else have problems with this?”

Standing out was also in mind of TheGoriWifeLife blogger, who is an American married to a Pakistani man. She writes about what she is wearing while visiting Pakistan:

“This time, I brought two pairs of jeans and a few shirts because I thought that at least around the house I wanted to be comfortable, since that is my daily uniform back home. But somehow I've ended up wearing jeans paired with a Pakistani shirt and dupatta when we go out probably as many times as I've worn shalwar kameez. We've even gone on several walks around the neighborhood and it feels totally normal and at ease.

Somehow things seem different this time.”

Difficulty of understanding and being accepted in a different culture is something interracial couples face regularly. Sometimes they also face questions about the basis of their relationship, and when marriage and immigration status get mixed up it is not comfortable.

At IndiaTies, blogger Heather Lurdkee, an American married to an Indian questions people who see interracial marriage as a status symbol or a way to get permanent residency status.

” For my husband, being married to me (a white girl) isn't much of a status symbol – he didn't go out looking specifically for an American or a white girl. He didn't “need me” in order to get somewhere in life. We just happened to be at the right place at the right time and things worked out.

However, some of my husband's Indian friends have expressed their desire to find a white girl to my husband. One friend (from India – who recently came to the States) actually said to my husband, “Wow, you've got it made, I have to find a white girl like you…” And he was serious! “

The trial and tribulations of interracial couples show a mirror to how far we-as a civilization have come in accepting and respecting differences. These blogs are part of that mirror and are also a tool in cultural and social understanding.

Thumbnail image by United Nations Photo. Used under a creative commons license

22 comments

  • Shail Raghuvanshi

    That was a great article Bhumika. Within India too there are lots of situations when people of different religions or communities get together and face problems. Even when they come to terms with different beliefs and faiths of their spouses the society looks at them differently.

  • This was a great post – thanks Bhumika. On PocketCultures we have a whole section devoted to interracial couples. As well as being useful to share experiences with other couples in a similar situation, it is a great way to explore cultural differences, like you write here. Wherever in the world they live, interracial couples are experiencing a new culture every day!

  • I am impressed to see the nass wedding ceremony of unification movement. I like very much the motivation of the movement : the want to unite the huminity by interreligious, international and intercultural marriage. The vision is making “One Family Under God”. The video

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUk92fQN7sE

    • masihi banda

      siraj

      Don’t be fooled by the unification church, the Moonies. They are a cult of false teachings and the imagination of a twisted mind of one old man, Sun Myung Moon. The Bible condemns people like that as false prophets, as wolves in sheep’s clothing.
      If you are not a Christian I really can’t say much to you. Perhaps the sex appeal of Korean and white women attracted you. If you are a Christian you need to investigate what these people are all about, not just for the wedding show they put on that might have driven you to a wishful thinking. One more thing, this cult is organized for the racists not for the dark skinned people like you.

      • Hi Masihi,
        Yes, I understand you. As like as you, my view was before but now changed. I don’t like any dogmatism however and false+ism. I don’t know I am unificationist or not. But I am married (unification called interreligious and international marriage) with a Japanese, matched and married by Unification System. We have now two cute babies. However I am having an international mind and devoted view for world peace. By born Muslim, but I did not lost my religions, however united with all religions. To tell truth, I joined in the movement in 1996. Last more than one decades I struggled and discovered the purpose of my life for the teaching of Dr. Moon. Any, I would not request you to be unificationist but have request you to know proper information with objective views, from the experienced person or source. ( You know Dr. Moon is running more than 30 organizations, by investing his all property from his juvenile age . He is now 89+ but continuing the work for peace with total heart…). Not as unificationist, he should at least get the “Nobel Prize”, on peace. As a unificationist also I don’t have objection to Nobel committee, they did give the Prize to Mahatma Gandhi also…
        My testimony, in shortly I would like to say, after joining in unification movement my view totally has been changed. Now I can love all difference, I can love ALL as my brother and sisters under Parent God, however can love all religions as I love my religion.
        I agree with you, there may have some controversial matters in the movement, but core sense ( True Love, True Life and True Lineage ) and motivation ( on Peace ) is excellent. As I know all the members work so hard to establish and practice Global Family Values without money and recognition ( beyond selfish view and motivation.)
        Actually I would like to share more; I am worried you may will mind that I am promoting Unification. However, if you want to know anything true, please let me know, I will share my practical experiences beyond the ISM. My contact

        • masihi banda

          Siraj

          Thanks for responding. I understand your belief system completely even before you wrote; but that doesn’t mean I endorse it or believe a word you said. You say you are a Muslim yet you believe and worship the ‘difference’ of so many other religions: Does that mean the worship of other gods, idols, and lowly animals? Your testimony is so comical even my boy had to laugh and says Uncle Siraj is such a comedian and so scary in his syncretism at the same time. Siraj, you have the right to your opinion and what you want to believe in. If the re-unification movement works for you, more power to you. At least you got a Japanese wife out of it along with two cute babies. Honestly I would take my family and run as fast I could from this movement. Let me remind you, it is a movement of cultic philosophy not an established religion, to put it mildly. Cultic leaders have one thing in common; they all brainwash people to further their satanic agendas. Dr. Moon or Dr. Doom is no exception. Be careful Siraj, don’t chew more than what you can swallow. On the day when you are praising Jesus, call me and we can talk. Good luck meantime!

          • Thanks for your reply and understanding. As like as my True Parents I also believe, “Selfishness is the root of conflicts! Misuse of sex ( that is so call free sex) is root of impurity and unhappiness! Misuse of public money and property create disorder in society !” I think you will also agree with these statement , however you will also agree all solution we can get from the family concept. “Family is the mini Government!”, “ Family is the unit of the society for making true family ”.
            Regarding praying, the unification follow and promote, “ One Family Under God”. You know, Muslim believe to one God, Unification also believe one God ! What is the problem. Unification also believe absolutely to Jesus, plus incarnation of God’s spirit and True Parents in all individuals’ character and motivation.
            Anyway, I updated as – God is not Christian, or Muslim or Hindu etc. He is our Parent, He is our creator and all mighty. As the children of God (everybody would like to inherit God’s lineage) we follow the religion to reaching God by loving God and Humanity. If we can easily can love and serve, religion and ism is not matter….you can do from any religion.
            About praying, I flow the “reporting pray” ( no asking pray with responsibility). I don’t mind to be humble in front of God and True Parents ( everybody should be true parents by accomplishing tribal massiahiship ). When I visit my home town and join in the family, I try love them as God love us…but I not serious as like as prophet. But I am serious to teach my babies, the teaching of Jesus, the teaching of Mohammed (s) and founders of religions. I am happy because of unification, although my son is five years old but know the Noha’s story, Abraham’s story..
            Anyway I am not a priest. I am a multimedia designer and journalist; just want to contribute in the peace process. My request to follow the real Christianity with Jesus’s sprit.
            By the by, about establishment of unification I have confidence. Nowadays there more than 4000000 ( forty lacs ) active unificationist. This not less. All truth establishment has and need “time of maturity”. Anyway I have total respect to your view and understanding. You are saying and considering as you know from the mainstream media and propaganda. My love and pray for you that you one day would be a Peace Marker. Yes, I am encouraged by spirit and activism of True Parent Moon, although he is 89 year old but still young…….

             
  • masihi banda

    There is nothing wrong with interracial marriages. However, interracial marriages are tough and not so practical because you go through such a long process of learning each other’s culture, learning to cope with both religious and social value systems. If you have the same faith it helps a great deal. It cuts down lot of misunderstandings and tough faith related issues. For example squabble over the faith of your children.
    The Holy Bible says marriage is between a man and a woman, or a husband and a wife. It is a sacred covenant of commitment before God and Man, a loving relationship of lasting faithfulness, of mutual respect and honor. As Jesus Christ is the head of His Church so is the husband the head of his family. Husband and wife are ordained as equal partners, equal in raising and nurturing children in the faith driven spirit of love, peace, and joy. A Christian marriage is a foundation for the body of Christ without which there is no Church.

    These days Christian marriages in India and Pakistan have a flavor of local and western cultures. There are so many types of marriages. Some are described as interfaith marriages, interracial marriages, and love marriages, etc. Where does the Christian marriage fit in? One thing is for sure; a marriage based on Biblical values stands a much better chance of success than most. A genuine Christian marriage is like no other.

  • Thanks for posting these. Great resource!

  • Jennifer Mc Cleary

    I appreciate your article because I too am in an inter-racial relationship. I’m white and my husband is Native American. I’ve noticed that most of the discrimination and ugly looks come from older white men and women and younger hispanic women (as most people assume he is hispanic). I have faith that although some people will be unfomfortable with our union, through time our love for each other will one day be accepted. For those that refuse to accept reality… well, their hatred and bigotry will die with them.

    • masihi banda

      Jennifer

      Its good to know you are in an inter-racial relationship. It shows your parents raised you right. In the eyes of God there is neither Jew nor Gentile, there is neither white nor black, good Lord made us all in his own image. Underneath the skin we are all the same, all with the same kind of heart, and all share the same exact DNA. In short, we are all equal in every respect and should be treated as such.

      When it comes to lifetime decisions its you what matters. The choices you make are all your own. Outsiders or their opinion shouldn’t matter. I know marriages can be tough enough, inter-racial or otherwise. You have to work real hard to maintain a successful marriage.

      I must say, the Native Americans are people of a noble race and worthy of respect and honor. I wouldn’t worry too much about what people think or say. You are in a committed relationship already. If you feel discriminated against where you are then find a better place for your family. If you have children they shouldn’t be growing up in that kind of atmosphere anyway.

      By the way, when you marry you swap everything, (sort of role reversal): your culture, your race, and your family. In other words you become a Native American and he becomes a white person, loving and respecting each other’s unique backgrounds. Thats what marriage is all about, sharing and caring. The end-product is your beautiful children: the legacy of your love nurtured in goodwill towards all.
      Good luck with your marriage!

  • Jennifer Mc Cleary

    Thanks for the kind words Masihi. It gives me hope! I live in Texas so it’s kind of hard to move away from the bigotry… considering how huge and largely conservative/republican it is. However, I live in the one area of Texas that is more accepting and cosmopolitan: Austin. It’s a great place but we still get the occational nasty look or comment. I’m afraid not much will change in my lifetime but I have hope for my future children’s lifetime.

    • masihi banda

      Jennifer

      “Be not afraid you can move mountains if you have faith even the size of a mustard seed,
      Do not overcome of evil but overcome evil with good”…. The Bible

      When it comes to my Christian faith I believe it with all my heart and soul which means I totally and without question believe in the truth of my Lord and savior Jesus Christ. And that makes me a conservative and a Democrat.

      The Bible teaches me while I am a conservative I must love all people liberally, show compassion liberally, and respect all regardless of color or creed. And that’s a liberal doctrine of the Bible. Furthermore Jesus commanded us and said, ” Love your neighbor as yourself, even love your enemies as yourself”. How much clearer can the Bible be in terms of treating others equally?

      In my opinion, if ‘conservative’ means being a bigot or racist than those people are neither good Christians nor good people, Republicans or Democrats alike. God favors no political agendas.

      The holy word of God does not teach me such evil things nowhere in the Bible. The Southern States or even some rural communities all over the United States of America, including Texas, are perhaps well known for their belief in hate and segregation, which to me is pure evil.

      Yes Mrs. Mc Cleary, the roots of racism may be deep and strong yet we are reminded that if we have faith we can move mountains and what is racism then? Just another anthill. Racism is a mental disease and an act against God and man. People who practice it, there will much crying and gnashing of teeth on the judgment day, for sure.

      • In Pakistan we all are from different ethnic backgrounds but what we must understand that we should respect that. We are all brothers and sisters and we should live with love and peace for a healthy environment and fight the extremism elements in our society. This is our home and we should protect this.

        • masihi banda

          Well said Murtaza. Yes, It’s a commandment of Almighty God (Kadar-I-Mutlaq Khuda) that we live as equal with each other in peace and harmony as God’s children. Loving and respecting one another is extremely important regardless of ethnic origin or belief system. In the eyes of God there is no Jew or Muslim, no Pakistani or American, and no Christian or Hindu. He blesses us all equally and without preference. His mercy endures forever for those who obey his commandments.

          We must remember; Life and Peace are among God’s greatest blessings. Then why should evil men; terrorists or extremists, destroy God’s greatest blessings. They are not bigger than God; instead they are the agents of pure evil who are bent upon destroying themselves and the people they represent.

          In case of Pakistan, we have given too much power to such evil men. Its time we look at ourselves and learn to fight against what is self-defeating. If we want a prosperous Pakistan first we must learn to love peace and freedom for all, for the good of the country. Ameen.

  • Thanks for sharing an interesting post.
    Barkha Dhar
    USA

  • Well, its that time of the year again, Chinese New Year.

    We typically catch a train into the city and watch the procession through China town and into the main city street.

    Tens of thousands of people gather to watch what I believe is a festival that is celebrated in more places and by more people than even Christmas. This says a lot about the influence of the Chinese globally.

    I always enjoy the sounds of the drums, the processions of the fabled dragons, and the myths behind the fearsome Lion.

    Typically, the Lion is sent to visit all the Chinese restaurants in China town, to bring them good luck. This at first sounds quite strange given the fear that the Lion is supposed to instill in all who see him.

    I think however the Lion represents a deep cultural pillar within the Chinese psyche, probably as a remnant of Confusionism, which places a lot of emphasis in the Yin and Yang of life.

    In fact and as it was once explained to me, the Lion represents the very nature of life, which includes accepting the bad as well as the good.

    The story goes something like this:

    “Long long ago, a fearsome Lion used to terrorise a small village in China, a village that otherwise had plenty of rainfall and very healthy crops every year.

    One day however the villagers got tired of the threats that the Lion imposed on their lives, and so they decided to get together and scare the Lion away with the sound of loud drums.

    They did just this, and the Lion left from the proximity of the village.

    However from the moment the Lion left, the village ceased getting any rainfall, and their crops failed every year.

    In desperation, the villagers decided to do what they could to bring the Lion back, and offered gifts of food and meat in order to entice him back. Once the Lion came back, the rains began to fall again.

    As a result, the villagers came to accept that for the good to come, some bad had to be accepted, and in many ways this goes to the heart of Chinese values.”

    I would like to think that my inter-cultural, inter racial marriage, in many regards, follows the same pattern of thinking. Although some issues are undoubtedly there, in order for us to enjoy the good, we have to also accept the not so good. It is as much a theme for marriage as it is for life.

    • masihi banda

      patil
      The good and the bad of marriage:

      I believe when you have a flavor of inter-racial, inter-cultural, and inter-faith marriages the scope of one’s character and positive mind shows. That’s what makes the marriage all good. What I don’t agree with is ‘not so good’ part which indicates the allowance of bad elements to creep into the institution of marriage and hope everything is going to be all right. ‘Not so good things’ do not make a successful marriage in the long run. Marriage is a sacred agreement between the two people. A marriage should not be considered a game; it’s a serious partnership of good building blocks.

  • Allyssa Katz

    I support interracial marriage because I don’t think race makes that much of a difference as long as there’s love. People should be able to marry who they like, and receive the same rights as anyone else.

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