It’s kind of hard to believe this today, but as recent as 1967, there was actually state laws that banned interracial marriage. These laws weren’t overturned until the Supreme Court case, Loving vs. Virginia in 1967. In that case, the Supreme Court found that it was unconstitutional for the state of Virginia to ban interracial marriage.
Although there are no longer any laws banning relationships, interracial dating remains a controversial subject for some people.
Welcome to Week #2 of my Fall Interracial Blog Feature! The Interracial Blog Feature was inspired by my new book, “Beyond The Colored Line”, and was created as a means to foster a better understanding of diverse relationships. Today, we welcome Lisa W. Tetting, author of “The Mistreatment of Zora Langston” to the convo.
EC: Hey Lisa, I’m so excited to have you spending time with us today. Can you give the racial background of you and your husband for the record and how long you’ve been together?
LT: Thanks for having me. My husband and I have been together for 20 years and married for 15 of those. I am of African American decent and he is Caucasian.
EC: Wow! So collectively you have been together longer than I’ve been alive! That’s so beautiful. Now, what are some challenges that interracial couples deal with that couples of the same race may not have to deal with?
LT: The obvious answer would be dealing with the stares of people who are not used to seeing mixed raced couples. Some people stare at us out of curiosity and others show complete disgust. Living in the south is somewhat challenging, but I will say it is easier today than when we first started dating. I can’t say for sure if it is a change in society or if we have simply gotten used to other people’s reactions.
Another challenge would be cultural differences. I have heard other mixed raced couples who say they struggle with their partner understanding their mindset and the differences in upbringing. I lucked out in that department because my husband was immersed in the culture and there have been very few times where he needs something explained. The same goes for me as I have always been someone who has an insatiable curiosity. This afforded me the opportunity to interact with people from all walks of life and all races.
EC: Awesome. Do you have any tips or advice to help couples overcome these challenges?
LT: As far as dealing with other people’s response to their relationship the only advice would be to ignore them. As with any relationship, you will never be able to please everyone so it is best to worry about pleasing the two people involved. No one else matters and that goes for family as well as strangers. If your family loves you they will come around and if not do you really want that kind of person in your life? You have the privilege of choosing your mate in this country so don’t let anyone deter you from being happy.
Speaking on cultural differences, you just have to show patience when learning the differences and be sure to wear your thick skin because there will be times when your partner will say something you may find offensive, but they are clueless to your interpretation. Be an open book and teach your partner instead of expecting them to know.
EC: Hmm, I love when you said your partner may not understand something, which is so true. Sometimes we are so used to being defeated that we are instantaneously offended at the mere thought of something when it was not intended to be that way from the perspective of the other person. I love that. Now, when African-Americans and Whites marry, there is more likely to be an African-American husband and a white wife. In fact, 73 percent of all African-American and White marriages have this setup. In your opinion and your experience with Interracial Relationships, why do you think Black men are more likely to date outside of their race?
LT: Actually, I have found that less than 12% of African American males marry outside of their race, this is according to the 2010 census figures. That being said, I feel when it comes to mixed race couples, black men may be more likely to date white females as opposed to black women dating white males. However, it seems the tables are turning in this aspect and more black women are allowing themselves to think and date outside the box.
EC: That is interesting since I hear a lot of black people, women in particular, accusing other blacks of being “sell outs” when they date outside their race. Have you ever had the misfortune of the title and why do you think this is?
LT: Actually I have never had that title bestowed upon me, at least not to my face. LOL. In my experience when dealing with other black women once they are aware that my husband is white; I am usually met with curiosity. Most of the time they have questions about how white men treat you as opposed to black men and my answer is always the same. A man is a man and he will treat you according to his upbringing and his interest in you. The manner in which he treats you depends on how you carry yourself, no matter his color.
EC: “A man is a man”, I love that. Let me know if this is too personal, but I have to ask: I’ve always known you to be married since following your blog, but I can’t remember ever seeing any pictures of your husband. Why is that?
LT: It is not too personal of a question as I am an open book. I try not to inundate my blog with pictures of my husband out of respect for his privacy because he is not one who indulges in social media. However, I have posted several pictures of my husband, some with me and some alone, on my blog.
EC: Oh, lol. So that means I ain’t been looking then huh? LOL. My husband is actually like that too. He’s not on social media, not even Facebook. His patience is really low with that sort of thing so I definitely understand that. Now, I’ve always wondered about the conversations between interracial couples concerning the ongoing racial tensions surrounding blacks and whites. Are there any moments where you and your husband disagree with a subject that is race related? If so, how do you deal with that?
LT: As far as conversations on racial tension, we are more times than not of the same mindset. The disagreements that may happen occasionally would arise from my inability to turn off my emotions when they are high and his need to move on from the subject at hand. Like most men, he feels a need to fix it and move on where me being an emotional female, I want to continue the conversation longer than necessary.
EC: LOL, right? These emotions I’m telling you. Now, any time before 1967 your relationship would technically be illegal. How does that make you feel today with the knowledge that you’ve chosen to be with someone outside of your race?
LT: I am very fortunate to have been born after 1967 and am thankful to Mildred and Richard Loving for the courage they showed in getting this archaic law removed from the books. It is very disconcerting to think I would not have been able to marry my soul mate if we had been born of that generation.
EC: Very true. Lisa, I want to thank you again for being part of this series. For the outsiders looking in, the people who are struggling to accept Interracial Relationships, do you have any advice for them?
LT: Open your mind! When you least expect it you may be surprised to learn you have more in common with someone who does not look or act like you. Get out of your neighborhood and travel. It is the one way to remove stereotypes and fear of the unknown. I’ve heard people say they are not racist, but feel people should stick to their own kind. I have a few words for them; I am sticking to my own kind… Human Kind!
EC: I know that’s right, gone girl tell it! I absolutely love traveling yaaass. You’ve been married for quite some time, what is the one thing that has helped you to survive your Interracial Marriage?
LT: This is not beholden to just Interracial Relationships; all marriages require love and care as well as good communication. You have to really like the person you have chosen to spend your life with; not just love them, but like them. If you don’t respect your spouse it is a recipe for disaster.
And that’s it family, Lisa W. Tetting on Interracial Marriages. As you can see from our Q&A, the purpose of this series is to shed light on the fact that mankind was made to be compatible with one another regardless of race. Thank you Lisa for joining me in this series. It was insightful, educational, and I had a great time!
Be sure to check out Lisa’s Social Networking sites and to purchase a copy of her book, “The Mistreatment of Zora Langston.” Stay tuned for another episode of Inside Interracial Marriages next week. You don’t want to miss our next interviewee!
You can purchase Lisa’s book on Amazon here.