Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Black and Italian, Black and Mexican...Interracial Relationships Go Global

A s a Black woman married to a Spaniard, I'm always interested to hear about other interracial couples. But what interests me more, are interracial/multicultural/ bilingual couples, because that's really what I'm dealing with. It's so much more than race that divides my husband and I. Our language, our culture, our homeland, it's all different. But that's not a bad thing. It's just different, which means a lot of explaining has to happen throughout the course of our relationship. Even though we've been together for almost twenty years now (yikes), sometimes I still have to ask him to repeat what he just said, mas despacio. Or I have to explain to him why he must wear a tie to Easter services at my grandmother's church.

So, of course I'm always eager to see how other people travel through similar situations. Today, there is a short essay on Vogue Black by an Italian woman, married to an African-American man. They live in Italy and she discusses how they are treated as an interracial couple in her native land.

This weekend, I saw the movie, Our Family Wedding, starring America Ferrera and Lance Gross. For those of you who haven't heard about the movie, it's all about the planning of the wedding of a young couple --she's Mexican, he's Black -- whose families don't exactly approve of their pairing. You know, because Black people and Latinos all hate each other. I was curious to see how the movie would deal with the issues of race and culture; if they would resort to gross stereotypes or really try to say something meaningful. Without giving too much away, I appreciated that the director and writer made the Black family quite wealthy but they lost points for making the Mexican father an auto mechanic and for the ridiculous scene which involves a live goat and a bottle of Viagra. I really wanted to like the movie because they made the effort to tell a different kind of love story and they did get some things right, but I just felt the whole film was miscast. That's all I'll say, but I would love to hear some other opinions on the film. And even though I'm not a big believer in affirmative action when it comes to buying movie tickets for bad films, I still want to support this movie because it offers options. It means somebody in Hollywood is willing to admit that the American public wants to see all of our stories on the big screen, not just the white ones with lots of special effects. (And please don't make me see big, blue Aliens in order to get my fill of interracial love stories.) Interestingly, I don't think there was one White person in the entire cast. Is that possible? Somebody go see the film and tell me if that's correct.

So, tell me, where else have you recently seen the conversation on interracial relationships expand beyond Black and White? Books, films, articles, TV shows? Don't keep it to yourself. Please share.




nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

I haven't seen the movie. However, I do agree with what one of the black execs at the studio said. In NYC (where she's from) you see a lot of mixing between the two cultures. Of course there are many Black and Latino people (from the Caribbean) who are both.

In L.A. this is not the case.

I was shocked to see and feel the huge divide between African-Americans and Mexicans. There's the gang situation but also something else going on. I don't understand it.

Kiffe Coco said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kiffe Coco said...

I have not seen the movie but was quite curious about it. But on the topic of interracial/ bi-cultural couples - I was reminded of my parents who have been married for 3o years (my mother is African-American and my father is French). We shuttled/ lived between two countries for most of my childhood existence. It is true to say that things become so much more complex when you are not only two different races but from two different nationalities all together. Our holiday dinners went from escargots to collard greens to French cheeses to baked mac n cheese. Interesting combinations left you full with the feeling of home. Thanks for posting this!!

Lovelyn said...

I was interested in seeing that movie until I saw the trailer. The scene with the goat that you mentioned in in the trailer. After seeing that I decided the movie would probably be stupid.

I'm African-American and my husband is English. Though we both speak the same language it's different versions of it. Even though I once thought of English culture as basically the same as American culture their are a few differences that we have to navigate.

evelyn.n.alfred said...

I saw the movie. Remember the scene in the restaurant? There were white people in there. Also, one of Forest Whitaker's flings was white. Probably some of the girls in the club were too.

Anonymous said...

Although I'm not in any relationships at this time, I have seen my fare share of mixed couples. Black/White,as a kid I remembered seeing more Asian/Black relationships( my pops has a biracial child in Vietnam), my sisters best friend is married to a Puerto Rican American ( He isn't Black) and my cousin was involved with a Samoan woman. As a Southerner(Georgia), It's assumed that we live segregated lives. I cannot say about what's up in other Southern states, but in my state I have seen and continue to see my fair share of them.

Far as websites, I have come across and admired the following: A Journey In Black/Indian Love,BlasianBaby Notes ,Blaxxican,BlindianNetwork,TheInternational Couples Homepage( I don't know the page is still up although the material on there hasn't been updated for a while) . There are many more that I have looked at but there would probably be no room for all of them to be on here.

LT said...

I don't get it either. (sigh)

Wow, your life sounds like my kids', except in French. It's so good to hear from you. Thanks for sharing.

Yes, really it's so much deeper than skin. People might only see Black & White, but the cultural differences are the real issue. I bet you guys argue all the time about what a biscuit really is.

Thanks for the White walk-ons recap. Now I remember. But really, they were all background characters weren't they?

Thanks for sharing and thanks for the tips on the websites. I know some of them and will def. check the other ones out.

AnaCeleste said...

I recently saw In the Heights when it came to Cleveland back in February. It is a musical with predominantly Latino characters, however, one of the main cast members was a Black guy who was the love interest of one of the young Latina women. They fall in love and the play/musical ends on a very positive note. Don't know if anyone else has seen In the Heights, but it's one of the best productions I've seen! I'm curious about "Our Family Wedding" and I understand that it's a comedy, but I would just like to see a movie about an interracial couple that doesn't (from my perception) make something comical out of it or, in some other interracial couple movies, make it a tragedy or scary drama. One of my favorites is Mississippi Masala.

Rose said...

I must admit after I read your blog post, I felt compelled to say I agree with you on how the media should provide us "options" in viewing different types of relationships! :) I have been in an interracial marriage going on 3 years now (I'm an African Christian raised in the US and my hubby is an American Jew). Talk about a lot of explaining to do during the relationship :)

There's a book I read a few years ago that I found helpful in thinking about how to deal with our different religions, languages, and cultures in my relationship and make it a success. The author has worked with many different kinds couples beyond Black/White. The book is called Mixed Matches: How to Create Successful Interracial, Interethnic, and Interfaith Relationships by Joel Crohn. This book doesn't provide all the answers but it's a start...

Thanks for posting this!

LT said...

I love Mississippi Masala too. I checked out your blog. Keep up the good work.

That book sounds like a great resource. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I was curious about the movie since my ex-wife is Mexican American and I'm African American. I was disappointed with the movie overall, but it had some good points and brought back some memories, both negative and positive in my past relationship. I'm currently dating another mexican women, and I live in Mexico for half of the year. A lot of African Americans are ignorant of Latin American History, as well as a lot of latinos. There are more people of African decent in Latin America than North America; Brazil has the second largest population of people of African descent outside of Africa, and there a people of African descent in every Latin American country except El Salvador, because they are mixed into the blood line. Mexicans should not have anything against mixed race marriages, since their entire race is based off of race mixing (Indigenous and Spanish blood). Puerto Ricans and some Cubans admit they have african blood flowing through their veins, and are cool with African Americans, but the majority of Mexican Americans are racist or look down on African Americans. The Mexican government just recently admitted it had people of African ancestory in Mexico (Mexico third root), but they continue to face discrimination like the indigenous mexicans, which I witnessed first hand in Mexico.

Anonymous said...

Mexicans/Mexican-Americans are VERY different than Puerto Ricans and Cubans when it comes to relations with blacks/Africans. This is probably due to the fact that Puerto Ricans and Cubans have African blood; and Mexicans do not.

Puerto Ricans and Cubans are a mixture of Spanish and African (some more Spanish, some more African). On the other hand, Mexicans are a mixture of Spanish and Ameridian Indian (some more Spanish, some more Indian, but most are 50-50 or 'Mestizo'.

Mexicans tend to believe that dating/marrying an African is degrading and/or disgusting. They tend to view Africans as 'lesser' with regard to work ethic,
intelligence, and beauty. While Puerto Ricans and Cubans see Africans as part of their own 'family', which in a sense is true. All making for easier relations between Puerto Ricans/Cubans and Africans.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with everything that anonymous has posted;some Mexicans have African blood in them too! Those 200,000.00 or more African slaves, that were in Mexico, did not go back to Africa. They did not evaporate either. They mixed into the blood line. According to Mexican anthropologist Cerda-Flores from the University of Nuevo Leon, in a small sampling of Mexicans in Monterry, 5 percent had African Ancestory. Thats just one test group.
Emiliano Zapata and Vicente Guererro had African ancestory,and there are still people of African Ancestory in Mexico--Oaxaca, Veracruz, Guerrero.
As for they tend to view blacks with a "lesser work ethic" what blacks are you comparing Mexicans to? The African American blacks, because of colonalism, the destruction of family, culture,and so on,have lost their work ethic. If you look at people of African descent from other countries such as Africa, Haiti, Brazil, they have a different work ethic than most African Americans. Where I live (The suburbs of Chicago) most of the 1st and 2nd generation Mexicans are hard workers, but the new generation of Mexicans are just as lazy, and scary as some young African American males. In Chicago a lot are droping out of high school, murdering, selling drugs, high teenage pregnancy, and so on. I hear it is the same in Los Angeles and other large cities in the US. I'm wise enough to know it is not color it is this country that changes people; It is the adopted American culture. You see it in the children of iigrants, who are not allowed to assimilate into our culture. Look at the children of most Arabs. You don't not see the majority of them selling drugs, commiting crimes, pregnant out of wedlock. When is the last time you seen a Arab at a house party? They usually do things centered around their culture, and are better off for it! Who do you think built America? Mexicans did not. Who do you think cut the grass, picked the
produce, took care of white's children, washed dishes,cleaned houses, before Mexicans
started coming into mainstream America in numbers? African Americans.
As for beauty, I a black man living in Mexico, and I get hit on by about 100 Mexican women a day. Black people are some of the most beautifulist people in the world. The Mexican women I speak to say it is the men (because of insecurity) that
prevent some Mexican women from speaking or dating black men. Most Mexican men are like white men in this area. They are afaird of black men taking their women. I know a lot of Mexican women who think blackmen are attractive,but are afaird of their family and friends turning against them. The same way women in America's past were afaird to obtain a divorce, they were afaird of the stigma that was attached to it. Now since that stigma has been removed, we have divorce in record numbers. If that stiga of being rejected by family and friends were removed I believe more Mexican women would date black men; most are controlled by fear.
As far as intelligence once again what blacks are your comparing Mexicans too? I know some really ignorant Mexicans, who don't know much about their own history, religion or other disciplines. Most Africans American's
heads have been so damaged you can not compare them to people who just got here recently to America. Just stick around for another 100 or 200 years, and we will see where Mexicans are at in America, if they are allowed to stay. Most Mexicans minds have been screwed up by a caste system that was developed hundreds of years ago, that stated European blood is superior,and African blood is inferior, and it's amazing to me how most people in Latin America still subscribed to this idealogy. And futhermore, the Spanish did not even believe in it. If they really believe they were superior and indigenous and Africans inferior, they wouldn't have had sex with so many indigenous and African women, hence Mexicans.

Hassan said...

As a black American born and raised in Los Angeles...I can say that a lot of that hype concerning Blacks and Latinos in LA is just that...hype. They act like we don't mix, hang out, socialize. Please. I've been in MANY situations where I was the ONLY non-Latino and I had no problems. On a casual level you don't see that hostility. Old Mexican woman do not cross the street out of fear when a group of "black thugs" is coming in the opposite direction. A LOT of that perceived hostility from Mexicans (and Latinos) can be immediately disabled through language.

I speak Spanish and I notice how that changes the dynamic of a situation once the other person knows this. They love playing the guessing game of where my mother country is and I impress them about my knowledge and adventures in Latin America.

I'm in my mid 20s and I remember in high school it was no big deal for a black guy to have a latino girlfriend. In fact, it was embraced. And growing up we saw several latino guy/black girl relationships. And NO ONE who was of mixed ancestry was ever teased because of that. Ever. And I'm from LA, not Woodland Hills or Orange County.

Also, many Mexicans have African blood. Someone already mentioned the "third root". There was this guy I met from Mexico, an Aztec dancer. He told me in his culture they are taught, according to history, that their people were waiting for Blacks to come. It was some prophecy. And it was going to be something very positive. Instead, white settlers showed up and they knew it was bad.

nation said...

I know where Italy is, I know where Mexico is but where is black?

Anonymous said...

I am a mexican female. I have been in a relationship with a black man for almost 10 years and we have 2 beautiful children. At first i didnt think that my family would approve even though we lived in a predominantly black nieghborhood. We live fort worth texas and there are so many mix couples. We see and mexican but there are many black women with mexican men,white women with mexican men, black men with white women,white men with oriental women etc. Some people do stare but its so common now that its not a big surprise when you see it.

Anonymous said...

hi... I think all of u live in USA... and most of you are married with people who where raised also in USA... Im a mexican, who lives in mexico and was raised here, and i met an african that was also raised in africa and we're kind of in a relationship but we're taking things slowly. he's really amazing i really like him, but im afraid because we don't know each other countries, and our cultures in a deep way. Also we don't speak the same language, I can speak english but it's quite bad, and there are somethings that i don't get. I'm also afraid of moving to his country and not finding any job. Do u know any couple like us? But that is already married :)

Anonymous said...

Sorry, you are so wrong on this one. Mexico does have a history if race mixing with Africans and imported slaves, just like the majority of Latin America. Please research the African Mexican history of the Costa Chica regions of Guerrero for example.