For anyone reading this thinking that this blog will be about the cultural challenges that Alena and I face as an interracial couple: I’m sorry to disappoint you. :-)
This blog is and always will be an honest representation of our relationship, and the truth is, we fortunately haven’t had many challenges. Of course, our generally positive situation is just a sample of one, and I’m sure other interracial couples have different experiences, depending on what kind of racial pairing they are, where they live, whether there is a language barrier, and whether they are immigrants or are 2nd or 3rd generation.
In sharing our experience, and showing that it’s been mostly positive, we hope that it encourages singles to expand their dating circles and look to date and be in a relationship with someone based on who they are, and not reject someone based on their race. The friends that we hang out with and people we know are open minded with dating interracially, but I'm still surprised when I read about how prevalent discrimination is by race when it comes to online dating.
Our Background as an Interracial Couple
Alena grew up in a small town in Northeast Pennsylvania, and her family is originally from Slovenia, a Central European country with only two million people. But she also lived in Asia for a year and appreciates Asian culture. My family is originally from China, a country with over a billion people, and I was born and raised in the diverse city of Brooklyn, NY, where I made friends with people from all backgrounds.
We haven't had a language issue, as we both grew up speaking fluent English. We haven't had a culture clash, as both of our families have been in the U.S. for over four decades. We both grew up in American culture and appreciate each other’s ethnic background. We’re an American couple who share many values and interests outside of race. Fortunately, Alena and I have had overwhelmingly positive experiences and only a few negative experiences as an interracial couple.
The Positives Being from Different Ethnic Backgrounds
Here are some of the positives:
• The food! We’ve introduced each other to new favorite foods. Alena had dim sum for the first time with me, and loves it. Alena introduced me to Potica, a nut roll from Slovenia, and I love it. Our family get togethers come with a mix of homemade ethnic dishes from both of our families, and it makes for a delicious meal.
• Children who have a chance to learn a second language at home. Kids of any background can learn a second language, but if one or both parents speak a second language, there is an opportunity for the kid to grow up bilingual and get practice speaking at home. I grew up speaking Chinese at home with my mom, and I’ll try to continue teaching our son Chinese as well.
The Only Negative We’ve Encountered Being from Different Ethnic Backgrounds
• Stares on occasion in the street. On a rare occasion, there would be some people that would give us a surprised look on the street or do a double take – perhaps because it is uncommon to see an Asian male, White female pairing, If that’s the case, let them stare and get use to it.
Fortunately, these reactions don't happen often in our daily lives, as we live in the Washington, DC metro area, an area where interracial couples generally have had positive experiences. We also felt very comfortable in our travels to major American cities like New York City, San Francisco, Miami, and Philadelphia. The only city in our travels that we didn’t feel as comfortable was in Athens, Greece, where we got stares from a good number of people who saw us in the street –and even encountered some crazy guy in passing yelling at me in Greek – but it’s likely due to the fact that there were barely any interracial couples in Athens, and we just stood out amongst the crowd.