Interracial relationships

Latara Boodie, Youthlink Writer

Due to our very mixed heritage and our combination of different cultures, the intermingling of races or ethnicities in the Caribbean is not uncommon. Our motto, 'Out of Many, One People', embraces the idea of accepting the people as a whole, and not compartmentalising them according to their race or ethnicity. Our people are our country's most precious natural resource and there is no need for superficial boundaries.

Love also knows no boundaries. It has no colour nor preference, in terms of who it affects. It is, therefore, not unusual to see persons who are perceived as 'different' ending up falling for one another. However, this type of relationship is still viewed as 'taboo' in some circles and can be very stressful on the individuals involved.

Here are three of the hardest things that interracial couples may face throughout their relationship.

1. Racist family members:

Family forms the most important foundation in a person's life. "When someone who raised you does not accept the person you love, just because of the colour of his skin, it is really hurtful," says 19-year-old Juleen*. (She is of Indian descent and is currently in a relationship with a black man.) "My aunts, whom I love very much, did not even take the time to find out about this amazing man. It kills me inside when I cannot take him to family functions and have him be a part of my family, because I know how awkward and hurt he must feel. I am 100 per cent sure if I were with another person from my own race, I would have no problems. I just wish the people I care about the most would look beyond his dark and handsome face and see what I see."

2. Judgement from strangers:

The people who know nothing about you usually have the most to say. "I come from a very loving home that is financially stable. However, ever since I got with Mark*, people think I am trying to 'up my status'," says Brittany*, 20, a black woman who is currently dating a white man. "I am so tired of black men saying I need a 'real' man to take care of me, as if they are more manly than any other race. My question to them is, what really makes a man? I got over the opinions of others and the plantation gibes are easier to ignore. Initially, it was very awkward, though. People need to stop being so narrow-minded and move on with the times."

3. Not understanding each other's feelings regarding racial situations:

"I will never forget how awkward it felt watching 12 Years a Slave with my girl," says Paul*. The 18-year-old man of African descent is currently with a white woman. "I did not want to watch the movie, but she insisted on it. Certain things you just don't do in an interracial relationship because our history makes things really sensitive. I remember jokingly telling her I thought Taraji Henson from Empire had nice curves and that was the first time I saw how insecure she felt about how she looked, when compared to a black woman. It's not all about the looks; you need a connection, and I have that with my girl."

*Names have been changed to protect the identities of the individuals.