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You Asked: Why Does Race Matter to My Parents?

Dear Sugar,

I have been dating my girlfriend for a couple months, and we both have this feeling that it's going to work out between us. I met her online, and we met a week later and have been together ever since. When my parents found out, they were furious. Since she is of a different race, they won't accept her. My dad is always talking to me about her, how she isn't the one for me and how I should only date within the race. He says that I'm betraying my race by dating another, but I don't see see it like that. We're both adults, but it seems that no matter what I do, he is going to be there to do whatever it takes to get me to do what he wants.

In my culture, I have to obey my elders, but when it comes to love, I don't really care what they have to say. It's my life, and I'm the one who is supposed to choose who I love, right? I'm going to stay with her no matter what, but I know my parents will be there to try to break us apart. Got any advice? — Torn Thomas

To see DearSugar's answer

Dear Torn Thomas —

This is a very difficult place to be in, and my heart truly goes out to you. I can't imagine anything worse than having the parents you love not approve of the woman you love, but it sounds like they are simply standing by the customs of your culture. I'm sure they only want the best for you, but in doing so, they've failed to realize that you've already done that for yourself.

You are correct: You're an adult who is capable of making your own decisions, so even though you want it all, it looks as though you're going to have to choose between your parents' approval and the woman you love — and from the sound of it, you already have. Try to understand that we are from a completely different generation than our parents — they have a hard time drawing outside the lines, so to speak. But hopefully in time, your parents will have a chance to get to know your girlfriend and realize how happy she makes you regardless of her race. I wish you luck Thomas, and keep following your heart: It usually doesn't steer you wrong.


Join The Conversation
gidigirl gidigirl 9 years
Caterpillar, I'm baffled by your example of stereotypes vs racism.. All black men are lazy, in gangs and beat women?... What exactly do you consider racist if not this manner of stereotype!!! Is there not an implied INFERIORITY in your generalisation of Blackmen.. If this has never occurred to you Give it some thought..
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 9 years
Well, Thomas you can't live your life for them or by their rules. You are a grown man and capable of your own sound decision making. I know that you'll make the right decision for you, be well.
cittypark cittypark 9 years
i'm in the same shoes. i'm korean and in my culture it's the norm to obey our parents in whatever situation. it's rather silly, but we're brainwashed from a young age to think without a moment of hesitation that they are always right. though in reality, they're people too, and they're wrong ALL THE TIME. yea, sometimes i must admit that parents do know best. but when it comes to love, they can't have the final say. take what they have to say into consideration, but after that, it's all you. and we also have to remember that they honestly do want what's best for us. so i'm sure they're not giving you a hard time for no good reason.
northernstar northernstar 9 years
I don't think it's racism, just a preference. I don't date guys outside of my preference not because I dislike other people's skin color or culture, but simply because there are certain things that make a guy attractive to me. It's a preference just like food, drinks, clothing, music, etc. I have nothing but love for any person who respects me and is a good human, no matter what they look like or where they come from. But when it comes to long term relationships, marriage, having children, I do not cross my preference boundaries not only withing a certain race, but cultural background, religious beliefs, etc. I wouldn't do it for my parents because it's my life and happiness,I just love my culture and I will not be happy unless I'm with a man that shares those same qualities.. my parents never restricted me from dating outside my race or ethnic background, it was always my decision who to date. It's funny how things like this are labeled racism, people need to be more open with each other and we wouldn't have this problem. Labeling things like this as racism and ignoring the real racial issues we are only falling deeper into backwardness.
Phunkometry Phunkometry 9 years
I'm kind of on the fence about the whole racism thing. To put it in a different context, my parents like my gay friends, but would have a hard time coping with it if I were to tell them that I was gay. But does that mean that they homophobes? I wouldn't quite say so. In the same vein, racism has such a strong and negative (duh) connotation--hate groups, segregation, "camps". So I wouldn't quite call them flat out racist, and I obviously don't think that they're right about the whole anti-interracial dating, but in their minds, they've probably been imagining the "perfect girl" for their baby boy since the day he was born, and she--whoever she was--was of their own race. It's just cemented in their minds, and it's gonna be hard to change that image. I think that if they grin and bear it for a while, and see this girl for what she truly is (the love of his life, perhaps), then they might loosen up on the race issue. The biggest danger with that, though, is if things don't work out, then they'll have something to rub in his face ("You see why you should only date black/Asian/white/etc. people? That non-black/non-Asian/non-white/non-etc. girl was no good for you!"). I hope his family can lighten up and let their son be happy, though, the poor fella.
karadisexo karadisexo 9 years
awww..this is awful. it's sad that this kind of stuff still happens..
tee0206 tee0206 9 years
I fully agree with the part about following your heart. Seriously, the best thing you can do is follow you heart and do what feels right. That leads to far less regret in the future. From the time I was a kid, my parents have tried to drill into my head that I should marry a fellow Asian (specifically, Chinese, and preferably one who speaks Cantonese). As I grew older, my parents realized that I simply was generally not attracted to Asian men. They've pretty much given up. Sometimes, it might just take some time for them to come around.
vanyvrgs vanyvrgs 9 years
mina, your mother is wise. It actually made me cry. I must be PMSy, but that is a great notion.
spiceG spiceG 9 years
mina, i thank your mother for such notions...and because of her maturity and integrity, you are here and beautiful. beautiful because you are not born to intolerance and bigotry. although we cannot change what was before us, but we can ensure our children's future that these beliefs are wrong and will no longer be tolerated. as i said earlier, "be the change you wish to see in the world".
minaminamina minaminamina 9 years
Caterpillar, you also forgot that the definition of racism includes the fear or intolerance of another race - quite like his parents. My father is black and Egyptian, my mother is Native American from Pine Ridge reservation. They faced a lot of the same problems you did - especially on my mothers side, since Native Americans are very concerned with too much mixing. What did my mother say? She's trying to make the world more beautiful by disregarding that notion and keeping the HUMAN race alive, not her own race.
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
One of my parents' friends is British and he married an Indian woman when they were both around 22 years of age. His family did not care but her family completely disowned her. When they were engaged, her father came over to the US, went to their apartment and told her that if she went through with this, the family would no longer speak to her. She continued to stay with the man she loved. Eventually the family did come around! After they had their first child, her aunt came over to the US to see their newborn daughter and then slowly, once the family realized that this was never going to go away, they slowly came to accept it. But making a decision like that is extremely difficult and will make your life a bit harder. So, you should not let your parents control your life in this way, but expect the worse and be prepared for some obstacles.
Meike Meike 9 years
Actually, CaterpillerGirl, it sounds like all three. No matter how you put it, these definitions are similarly related. "racism-the belief that ones race is superior to another" His parents believe a girl of his own race would be better suited for him. That shows some level of a superiority complex for their own race. "Bigots-a prejudiced person who is intolerant of opinions, lifestyles, or identities differing from his or her own." He posted that his parents are the type to break them apart. That shows intolerance. "Stereotype-is a conception or image with specific meaning, often held in common by members of a group "One reason for stereotypes is the lack of personal, concrete familiarity that individuals have with persons in other racial or ethnic groups. Lack of familiarity encourages the lumping together of unknown individuals" Obviously, they lack familiarity outside their own race since they're being egocentric and telling their son that 'our culture is the way'.
missbanana missbanana 9 years
well i truly understand where youre coming from. I am asian and my boyfriend is caucasian, and my parents werent too sure at first but along the way, they saw how great of a guy he is and they love him now. Also, Ive dated guys before the same culture as me, and all you guys and gals have to know, that it MIGHT be about the skin at times but there IS a difference with how i was brought up as a child because of my culture. Most of the problems my boyfriend and I had in the past were all culturally and morally different. We view things and think things differently. I think that could a part of WHY your parents are somewhat worried or "against" it. I hope that helps and wish you the best of luck
red4bonez red4bonez 9 years
aw i take it this way. you are dating her not you parents. Do whatever you think is right and follow you heart. You will most likely meet people in your race that date people of other race. Just follow your heart. And if you are going to be happy with this person then be with her. I am sorry but I say screw your parents you dont live to make their life happy you live to make your life happy so do what you gotta do!!
binkyob binkyob 9 years
I almost feel like I can't add anything to this conversation, but I will try anyway. My boyfriend is Korean and there are those similar ideas in his family that he should only date Korean. We have been together for almost two years, and it seems that the more time we are together his parents have started to like me. It will start off very difficult. Just hang in there and stick to your guns. If this is the women you love stand up for her. Your parents will hopefully come around. Good Luck Thomas!
ninjastarlett ninjastarlett 9 years
For Christians and some other religions, it's part of their beliefs that you should only marry within the religion. It can sound kinda silly but ultimately they (family, friends, etc.) hope that the religion reflects their morals and they can use that as a judgment of their character. Thomas, you sound like you're being very mature about this and I respect that since it's very difficult situation. My parents are Chinese and I find that they're critical of everything! They've always wanted me to date a Chinese boy but all my exes were white... they didn't hate that TOO much but it still seemed like they preferred at least some kind of Asian. However, my bf current IS Chinese and I thought they'd be beside themselves but they're still making the same critical judgments as before. (I think it might actually be that they have higher standards for him, being Chinese and all.) I know it's difficult to deal with a culture gap and it's hard to make a relationship work when someone is always trying to tear it apart but if you're really into this girl, stick it out. Tell your parents periodically about her. I think the biggest thing that made my parents decide that white guys were acceptable was that one of my mom's (Chinese) friends is married to a white guy and he treats her and her family really well. If you can find at least one example of a cross-culture relationship working like that, it might help to turn the tides a little. Best of luck!
bastille_75 bastille_75 9 years
P.S. not that there is anything wrong with the female perspective - this is why we are lucky to be women and talk like this with our girlfriends whenever we like. I do feel bad that sometimes men do not have that same luxury and when they do ask for our opinion/advice/help it can be overwhelming :-)
bastille_75 bastille_75 9 years
Well Thomas, you definitely got the female perspective (lol) As I can not add anything to the conversation that has not already been mentioned, all I can say is I totally agree with Sugar and Jennerifer76!!!! So I will leave you with this quote: "All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare" - Spinoza
courtneyh courtneyh 9 years
Print off MSN stories about Don Imus, Dog the Bounty Hunter, and that black guy from Grey's can't remember his name. Show your parents what happened in 2007 to people that made RACIST remarks.... .....and then remind them we're 2 weeks from 2008 ;)
Marci Marci 9 years
I agree with those who say that this is a case of culture shock for your parents since it doesn't sound like there's been a lot of marrying outside of your own culture in your family. But you are an adult, and you should live your life in the way that is right for you, not for them. Whoever you marry is the person YOU will have to deal with everyday, not your parents. So don't let them pressure you. They'll just need some time to get used to somone who isn't the same. Through the generations, my family always married others who were Irish. My parents, however, were presented with sons and daughters in law who are Jewish, Italian, English, Spanish. It makes things interesting!
cubadog cubadog 9 years
I do agree this is racism and unfortunately, many people after they arrive to the US do not always change their POV right away. I have to assume your parents are from another country and are not americanized. While we can all agree that they are racist and it is wrong you have asked what you should do. I do think you should pursue the relationship with the person you are so in love with. Your parents while I can appreciate that you want to make them happy your life is your own and you need to be happy. Hopefully, in time your parents will grow to love this person as much as you do. Your parents came to this country I have to assume to have a better life and live freely I think they need to be reminded of that.
workin9to5 workin9to5 9 years
Yep vanyvrgs, my parents have said the same type of thing. I still think it is racism even if it is milder than hate crimes and certain language, and of course I wish they didn't think that way. But I know some battles cannot be won and forcing them to think differently doesn't work. So at least it makes me feel good knowing that I am the next generation and I am different. It's good to know my kids one day will be able to do what they want and be with whomever makes them happy. It's a small change but it's something!
kia kia 9 years
Good luck to you. You can still follow your heart while respecting your elders. You will do things they won't like but be patient, and don't compromise yourself too much. It is a hard line to be true to yourself and adhering to their wishes. My fiance is another race from myself and I was nervous about meeting his mother. Apparently she has been a long proponent of races sticking together. Me and her are fine though. No biggie in my circumstance. Now attending his extended family functions is another story... I'm not welcomed by everyone. No big deal, I'm marrying him, not them, and we don't even live in the same state with them. I have a lot of friends with other experiences though. I have one girlfriend that married into a family that was ashamed of their son's interracial marriage. They refused to attend their wedding and the father wouldn't let them marry in their hometown. They had a Vegas wedding and only her parents attended. It sucked and her father-in-law has been a dick for a while. Guess what, he can be a dick regardless of the reason. They are 12 years into their marriage, expecting their first child and the father-in-law still isn't a bowl of cherries to be around but she is happy with her husband. You need to decide if it is worth it to you because there aren't guarantees that you change people.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
Well, dearsugar basically said what i have said on this issue, and i can see how you think its racism and I just disagree with that sentiment. debate is a lovely thing. racism-the belief that ones race is superior to another Bigots-a prejudiced person who is intolerant of opinions, lifestyles, or identities differing from his or her own. Stereotype-is a conception or image with specific meaning, often held in common by members of a group "One reason for stereotypes is the lack of personal, concrete familiarity that individuals have with persons in other racial or ethnic groups. Lack of familiarity encourages the lumping together of unknown individuals" You tell me which one the parents SOUND like.
vanyvrgs vanyvrgs 9 years
I am with hotstuff on it being racism regardless of how mild it is, my mother tells me all the time that if I was to marry a person who is not of our race she will be very disappointed and on the same breath tells me she is not a racist and has black, mulato, asian, indian, arab friends... I tell her straight out if the only reason you do not like someone is because of the color of their skin and/or because it will dilute your family's color (assuming I have kids, she says the kids will be treated differently),you are a racist and that part of her disappoints me tremendously. I will fall in love with whomever I do period. Which brings me to another point, this individual may not exactly be talking there are only 3 races and a smogasboard of colors, cultures. For example, my sister back in the day was dating an italian guy, his family did not like her because she was not italian. The same faith befell me when I was dating this great Greek guy.... same thing, not Greek. I could not even meet those parents. Eventually both of those relationships did not work out because the men did not man up.. so this poster has to make sure he explains in a mature fashion to his parents that he respects them but love is hard to find and won't sacrifice it for thier old sterotypical beliefs....
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