Tag Archives: interracial marriage

Families By The Numbers: How Does Yours Measure Up?

Do you know how many families are just like yours? We’ve all got aunts who can easily be referred to as the Cat Lady, or uncles and/or cousins who try too embarrassingly hard to be cool.

But how many U.S. households look like yours? Didn’t know if you peeped the graphic in The New York Times recently that gave us a glimpse inside our homes. The link of it is here.

After futzing around, I found that 8.1 million homes are similar to my own, meaning a husband, wife and two kids. Most of us have incomes between $75,000 and $150,000 and compared to other groups, a higher proportion of Asians live in these households.

Of course the graphic doesn’t factor in that my husband’s a blond-haired, blue-eyed boy from Norway and I’m a brown girl from Kansas. I’d love to see the interracial numbers though.

According to the U.S. Census, the number of interracial marriages has risen 20 percent since 2000 to about 4.5 million. And that number continues to grow.

The stereotypical nuclear family is constantly changing, what will it look like in the future?

With New York’s historic approval of gay marriage, I’m sure it won’t be long before other states follow suit. The New York Times’ family-o-meter now shows there’s 18,654 households with two men and two kids. Ten years down the road, what will that number be?

I love that our society is constantly evolving. It wasn’t so long ago that marriages like my own were illegal and people proclaimed that the Bible was against interracial relations. (The U.S. Supreme Court declared such unions legal in 1967.)

So I ask again, how many households look just like yours? None. We’re all unique and come with our own formulations. What we do have in common is beyond the numbers. It’s the good stuff, things like hope, love and happiness. And thank God for that.

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Being Brown in the Suburbs: No Burnt Crosses, But A Few Cross Looks

I should have known by the look in his eyes. The middle-aged white man looked at my chocolate self, then to my light-skinned baby and back to me. “Excuse me,” he said walking closer. “But is his father white or Asian?”

The color of us by Erica Lynn Hang.

I paused. Did he just ask me that? Here? In the frozen-food section of the grocery store?

Inhale. Exhale. “He’s white,” I said, feeling my blood rise. Gathering courage to stand my ground for whatever racial onslaught was to come, I said louder, bolder: “He’s Norwegian.”

“Oh.” He responded and walked toward me, fumbling to pull something out of his pocket. Egad, what is he going to do? You know folks are crazy.

“The reason I’m asking is because this is my family.” He pulls out a picture of himself, a round black woman and two very tall biracial boys all smiling in their Sunday best. “The oldest is in college and this one’s in middle school.”

I melt.

“Let me show you my other son.” I whip out my phone and pull up a picture of Logan with his wildly curly hair and caramel skin.

“Do you guys live here? Are they treating you OK?” He looks very concerned, it’s clear he cares. By “they” he means the community, our predominantly white, moderately conservative Chicago suburb. He’s not asking me if there’s been crosses burnt on our lawns, but if we’re treated well, like equals, genuinely received by our neighbors.

We do like it here and generally have had no issues. Unlike our previous suburb, where everyone at the grocery store from the cashiers to the customers were routinely rude to me. At the time I chalked it up to grumpy people, then one day I took my husband shopping with me. It was a marked difference, people smiled when they greeted you in the aisle, asked you if you needed any help, there was no hostility. I was shocked.

After that trip with him, I told him he needed to come to the grocery store with me each time because I didn’t want to be treated so rudely. It sucked because it felt a bit like we had the Black Codes in the grocery store, where I needed a white person to vouch for me.

(There was also a bit of that Saturday Night Live episode where Eddie Murphy went undercover as a white man. On the bus, after all the black people were gone, he watched how a party broke out among the whites.)

That grocery store experience was a few years ago and in another suburb, where we live now it is better. And this time in the store, this white man was telling me how he and his wife did have some struggles several years ago, but that his kids enjoyed the good schools. “They are good at the schools,” he said nodding meaningfully. As if to reassure me that it won’t matter to the other kids that my boys are biracial.

Ethan started to squawk and I needed to finish up my shopping, so we said goodbye. I wished him a nice day.

Smiling, I walked away thinking I should have known by the look in his eyes. When this white man looked at me and my family, he saw his own.