by Adriana Villavicencio
Young Latinos have the highest rate of interracial relationships, more than double the percentage of African Americans and almost three times more than whites. This makes sense considering we fall into different racial categories. Remember last year’s Census?
At the same time, Latinos show the lowest level of support for interracial marriages, which means that we may do it but we meet a lot of resistance along the way. Some of our very own Being Latino contributors have shared their personal stories over prejudice against Latino-Black love (even by Black Latinos), shock at dating a white guy (pobre Gringros), and criticism over dating anyone who isn’t Latino (even if he’s Prince Charming).
As a Latina who has been in two long interracial relationships, I am not unfamiliar with some of the challenges and surprises of interracial dating. Knowing that everyone’s experience is unique and every relationship is a universe, I am also the last one to narrow it down to a list of quick and dirty tips. But if I had to give any advice on how to navigate the complex ride of an interracial romance, it would be this:
DON’T Take it Personal: Some people will respond to your relationship with dirty looks, snide comments behind your back, or rude comments to your face. Some of your friends and family will support you, some will come around with time, and some never will. Don’t take it personally because it’s not about you.
DO Expect Respect: While not everyone will be on board, you should not have to tolerate any disrespect hurled at you or your partner. If that means asking your favorite aunt to apologize for her rude comment or setting your friend straight for saying something ignorant, then so be it. They don’t have to like that you’re dating who you’re dating, but they must know you expect at least the same amount of respect you show to the weirdos they bring around.
DON’T Be Someone You’re Not: In the first stage of interracial relationships, you become acutely aware of differences between you and your partner and across racial groups. Some people are tempted to minimize these differences by taking on aspects of another group. I’ve seen people change the way they dress, act, and talk in response to feeling different. It doesn’t look like they’re blending in; it just looks like they’re trying too hard to be someone they’re not. You’re exactly who your partner fell in love with; just be you.
DO Share Your Worlds: At the same time, dating someone from a different background can expose us to the richness of their world and provides you the opportunity to do the same. They may cook you foods you never tasted, while you take them salsa dancing every week. Even beyond superficial differences, sharing will expand the way you see the world, other people, spirituality, and love. Inviting each other to join in what you admire about your own culture and cultural perspectives will solidify your bond and make your relationship a source of inspiration.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.