White Woman Marries Black Man... 40 Years Ago #myparents

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My Mom and Dad would probably say they're nothing special.  In fact, they'd probably describe themselves as pretty ordinary.  They'll be married 39 years on July 29 (no biggie..), they have two kids, a couple grand babies and a grand dog.  I think the fact that they got married at all in the first place is pretty extraordinary itself.  Their experience and marriage impacts how I look at motherhood and highlights the true importance of teaching our kids to embrace differences.


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Mom and Dad met in high school.  Mom said she couldn't stand Dad.  He was the President of the student council and a star hockey player.  Mom says this made him pretty full of himself.  Despite the fact she couldn't stand the guy, they ended up together and in love some time later.  Dad chased her and chased her.  He finally caught Mom.  Sure, this could be any cute little high school sweetheart story.  But what's unique about Mom and Dad is that Mom is white and Dad  is black.  And this was like 40 years ago. 

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Some 40 years after Mom and Dad got together, I still react when I see an interracial couple in a commercial or on a show.  That's because I never saw this growing up and I think we are now just starting to accept these kinds of differences in the mainstream.  This has begged me to consider what the hell my parents went through during those early days of their romance, when they decided to get married and when they had interracial children.  It's made me think things are never as simple as black and white.

I think we're sometimes in denial about what really goes on in the world.  I was in grade one when I had my first traumatic experience with racism.  I walked to school with my beautiful, and black, cousin.  A couple of boys jumped her and pushed her into a puddle.  Because she was 'was the same color as poop'.  I ran home and got my Mom.  


To deny these types of moments (and there actually are a few) is to deny who I have become as an individual and mother.  We have to remember these moments so we don't forget to teach our kids to be kind.


Our interracial family still lands us some double takes when we're at the grocery store.  Imagine being Dad, out and about with our blonde boy.  What I love about Dad is: he really doesn't give a shit.  Truly.  He's proud as can be of his kids and grandkids and doesn't even give a second thought to what others might think.  I don't think he's even noticed that he has a blonde grandkid.


I share this story about my Mom and Dad to celebrate their anniversary, and all they have achieved in their 39 years of marriage.  I also share it to remind us of the great responsibilities we face as parents.  To me, one of the most important things we can teach our children is tolerance of others and acceptance of differences.  I hope we live this every day in our house.   I hope other parents acknowledge the important role they have in sharing these messages of acceptance. 



As far as I'm concerned, my Mom and Dad are trailblazers.  For 40+ years they've been challenging the status quo and continue to do this every single day of life.  It's because of people like my parents that we now see interracial couples on television.  It's because of people like them that our world is changing.  It's taking a really long time for things to get to where they need to be.  But that's because, it's never as simple as black and white.  The answer is usually somewhere in between.

Shauna ColeComment