The Mormon Therapist on Interracial Marriage

John Dehlin Discrimination, diversity, families, inter-faith, international, love, marriage, Mormon, mormon, Mormons, revelation 62 Comments

Recently I’ve been in contact with a girl by means of the internet. We haven’t met but plan to soon. I like her a lot. She has told me she loves me and wants to start a family with me.
She isn’t a member of the church but said she is willing to join it if it means being with me.  I find her attractive, yes -but there are other factors as well.
She is from a mixed race (half African, half White American). I know love can put aside all differences but at the same time this would cause stress on both of us. Not only culturally but children, my family (she has no family really), etc. Some of my family members are a little less open to other races as I am. I know family is something that can be dealt with but my family is very close. I was just wondering if there was some way to overcome this issue?
I have openly told her about my feelings on these subjects and she doesn’t care. She is willing to wait for me to overcome my issues. I plan to go forward with our relationship and see how well we get along once we have met in person. I look forward to it.
I have prayed concerning this and have felt good about it. I just still am struggling to overcome some of my anxiety over the subject. Am I wrong to worry about such things? Am I over thinking this?  Any advice would be appreciated.

Finding love through the Internet is a new mating process that is increasing in popularity and has been for the past 10-20 years. As with any new process, we struggle to figure out its implications and “rules” of behavior as we embark on unchartered territory. One of the positives of the Internet is the decrease of geographical and cultural boundaries. This has a great impact on the “pool” available to those who are dating.  Our world today is much more global, as is our church, and people are meeting, falling in love or beginning friendships with those not of their culture, race or even religious faith at a much grander scale than ever before. There are many wonderful things about this – the main one being increased tolerance for others different from ourselves.
However, as with anything, there are challenges that couples in interracial, intercultural, or interfaith relationships should be aware of as they make the decision to make a life together:

  • Unfortunately there still remain many stereotypes or “attitudes” towards mixed race relationships – this can depend greatly on the geographical area you live in. The best way to deal with this issue is to see it as ignorance and un-Christlike behavior. It may take patience at times, the willingness to not be overly sensitive and the willingness to be a voice, example and educator to those around you. Be clear with friends and family members that if they want to enjoy the benefits of a relationship with you and your wife (if you were to get married), that any type of racism/bigotry will be addressed and not tolerated. Because of deep seeded beliefs/cultural bias, some people may not even be aware that their behavior is racist. That is why I encourage open communication before writing people off.
  • With different cultures and faiths there usually come different traditions, parenting styles, conflict/problem-resolution styles and even romance styles. As with any relationship, communication will be a key element for success.
  • It will be of great importance once children are born, to engender in them a sense of pride for all aspects of their ancestry and subsequent personhood (i.e. color of skin, cultural tradition and history, etc.). Sometimes within the same family, children may have different color shades of skin tone. Communication and normalizing of the family situation will be important in engendering strong self-esteem and a strong sense of family unity. It is also important to educate them on what they can expect from the outside world so that they are prepared to deal with insults or other ignorant behavior.

Here are some thoughts in regards to your specific situation:

  • It is normal to worry and “over think” when making the important decision as to your lifelong companion. In fact, it is good to be as objective as possible and be realistic about the pros and cons of the relationship. This is usually a difficult thing to do when we are “in love.” However, the more you discuss potential strengths and weaknesses as a couple, the more insight you will both receive as to your problem-solving styles, your compatibility, your attraction, your goals/dreams, etc. These are important things to be addressing during the dating process.
  • I encourage you to take the relationship to the next level – that of meeting as you mention – and see how you feel about each other once you are able to spend more time with one another. There is no need to hurry or rush into any decision.
  • Just because your love interest has “received an answer” and feels that you should marry, does not necessarily mean that this is your answer. It will be important for you to receive your own impressions and personal revelation regarding the decision as to whom you will marry.
  • I would discourage any conversion process that is based solely on the desire to marry. Many not of our faith don’t always understand the commitment needed to legitimately become a convert.  Conversion into our religion takes doctrinal belief and personal commitment that this woman may not be completely aware of. I would hope also that from your perspective, it would be more important for her to convert sincerely if that is what she chooses at some point, than to just want her to convert due to family and/or LDS social pressure. Conversion should be a deeply personal, spiritual and largely individual journey with God.
  • It is better to be aware of and recognize any cultural or racist biases you may have and be honest with yourself about them. In the desire many of us have not to be racist, we inadvertently hide uncomfortable feelings or thoughts (even from ourselves). To be able to overcome such thought processes we first need to identify them and how we want to progress. Asking ourselves the following questions may be helpful: Where do my biases come from? What lenses am I looking through (i.e. my parents?, my culture?, my education?) Are any of my biases based on evidence? Are they based on fear? Are they based on gospel teaching? How did Jesus Christ feel about and treat those of a different culture during His ministry? What can I learn from Him? How do my biases limit me? How do they protect me? Do I want this type of protection? How do I want to approach people of a different race, culture or faith? How do I want these same people to approach me?

With all this being said, I want to be clear that whether or not we marry within the same race, religion or culture – the fact remains that the two families from which two individuals come from are, in of themselves, two different cultures. We take a lot for granted when marrying within “sameness” that many times does not meet expectations. People assume certain things because of the labels we engender. Then come to find out, assumptions are not realities. It is important regardless of who we marry to be aware of the “culture” our spouse comes from, the “culture” we come from and how we are to integrate the strengths and weaknesses we bring to the table to in turn create a new found culture within the bounds of our new family and home.

MM readers:
What are your thoughts and feelings about interracial marriage?
What are your thoughts and feelings about marrying outside of our faith?

Natasha Helfer Parker is a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist and a member of the Church with 13 years of experience working with LDS members. Here she shares with us representative cases from her practice and insights she has gained from her work as a therapist.  She blogs at mormontherapist.blogspot.com.

Comments

comments

Comments 62

  1. My racial background is so jumbled up at this point, I admit having a hard time tolerating anybody who doesn’t. Sheer stupidity and ignorance in my view. My take is to tell anyone who harbors these feelings to stuff it, and eventually they’ll come along. If the relationship works, they’ll eat crow. If the relationship doesn’t work, you stick by your guns and let them know it didn’t work for reasons unrelated to race (or at worst, because bozos like them turned a non-issue into an issue). Of course I realize that is totally lacking in tact. In reality it’s probably more like some of my friends who facing the issue for the first time (unlike my case where I’ve lived my whole life with it), they simply stood their ground with greater silence and patience then I could, but did stand their ground, and eventually family came around after a period of ostracism.

    As for marrying outside the church, you gotta make it a matter of prayer (as with any marriage decision). No bigger decision in your life, and I’ve known people who took it to the Lord, got a yes, and have fantastic marriages. But that answer has to come from the Lord and be coupled with a determination to stick to the faith yourself and have an open dialog with your spouse about how to fairly deal with the challenges. And I totally agree that conversions just for the sake of the marriage are generally a very bad idea.

  2. I think that an interracial marriage is like an interfaith marriage in the sense that it may bring about some big challenges and difficult situations, but can also be an incredible experience of broadening one’s horizons and fulfillment as a couple and as individuals. I married a non-member and although during the first few years I sometimes feared I had made a big mistake as I felt pressured into the LDS temple marriage culture, in later years I’ve been able to see just how fortunate I was to have married a non-member because I would not have gotten the life experience I’ve gotten without it. I think that it’s much the same with an interracial marriage.

    Just be ready for some challenges and perhaps fleeting moments of doubt and regret.

  3. It is interesting that the questioner’s internet partner is open to their mixed race / mixed religion marriage — perhaps her experience has taught her some things along the way and he could gain great understanding from having her teach him what she has learned.

    I appreciated this comment most of all, Natasha: “With all this being said, I want to be clear that whether or not we marry within the same race, religion or culture – the fact remains that the two families from which two individuals come from are, in of themselves, two different cultures. We take a lot for granted when marrying within “sameness” that many times does not meet expectations.”

    Indeed whomever we marry, regardless the background, we need to commit to make that relationship work.

  4. You really have to think about this one. People have a great capacity for undertanding and compassion but on the flip side small mindedness as well. I say that let love flourish despite all but nothing is without consequences, natural or otherwise.

  5. I’m not understanding why she is willing to wait until he decides he wants to come around. You either want a relationship with this person, or you don’t. This means you accept everything about them, including their race and culture.

  6. Great response.

    There is a lot of interracial marriage in my immediate family, so if I were in that position I don’t think it would be a familial issue. And it is certainly less of an issue in 2010 than it would have been 30 years ago. But I don’t at all doubt that in the Mormon context that remains an issue in many pockets of the Church. I think he’s going to need to be willing to stand up for their relationship and not let his family rain on it.

    If they do get to the point of actually considering marriage, I think they should get premarital counseling to help with the possible cultural landmines. Finances, domestic chores, children, parenting styles, they need to have conversations about all of these things *before* getting married to make sure that they have the capacity to compromise on such issues.

  7. Faithful Dissident wrote,

    “Just be ready for some challenges and perhaps fleeting moments of doubt and regret.” Bingo. I have yet to meet any married couple who didn’t experience that at some point – interracial, interfaith, or otherwise. I think Paul’s absolutely correct: once a couple decides to marry, they need to commit to make it work.

    From my perspective, the strangest thing about the letter that Natasha posted (assuming it’s from a real person) is that a woman who has never met the writer states that “she loves [him] and wants to start a family with [him].” The interracial aspect, if any, of this relationship is a non-issue compared to this woman’s desire to start a family with someone she’s never met.

    1. This was actually my exact thought. It seems to me the cart is being put before the horse- or however that saying goes. It sounds like the young woman has little family and is anxious to start her own with someone she has never met in person. She is willing to convert to his religion without knowing anything about it. She is already miles ahead of him in any kind of commitment. She could be a very needy and clingy person. In my opinion, these t
      wo young people potentially have a lot more issues than race.

  8. Race is probably a good issue to discuss just like finances, children-rearing, eduction, political views , toothpaste use and all the other things couples should consider when they are in a serious relationship.

    I would be much more concerned about the Internet relationship nature rather than the interracial thing. Relationships are hard enough without the combination of long distance and the Internet.

  9. It all depends on how much a person’s identity is bound up in his/her ethnicity. My best friend growing up, who were half-Hawaiian, along with his brother and two sisters, all married 100% White & Delightsomes. No problems anywhere. However, although they were proud of their Hawaiian heritage (they have Hawaiian names, including unpronounceable long middle ones), their overall culture was straight-up SoCal Mormon — to the point when my friend’s sister went to BYU-Hawaii, she caught a fair amount of crap from the professional Polynesians for being some kind of race-traitor.

    Racists just suck. Even the ones who liberal orthodoxy holds are incapable of being racist, because they’re not part of the White Power Structure.

    The upshot of this is that there is a very good chance that any nonwhite person with whom an interracial marriage has a good chance of equal success as a monoracial marriage, will have been called an Oreo, a coconut, or an “apple” at some point during his or her life. In other words, he/she is a person with the good sense to reject grievance nationalism. Just cultivate a sense of charity and (for when all else fails) a well-exercised central digit.

  10. Matt:
    All the letters I post are from “real” people, assuming honesty of course on the part of the sender.
    I’m actually seeing more and more couples taking their relationships to a “fiancée” status without meeting. With telephone, text, skype and other such technologies – couples can find themselves quite attached without a physical meeting. I, like you, believe that couples should spend actual time together before deciding to marry – at least in most cases. However, depending on where in the globe people find themselves at – this can be financially and even legally complicated.

  11. Taking a sping off of Thomas’s comment, which reflected the thought I was having regarding the post, I don’t see how this letter stresses that the racial differences are also connected to genuine differences of cultural ethnicity. If a black person with African ancestry but an American upbringing, dates a white person with English ancestery but American upbringing, how much of a cultural clash should they expect? I agree with the sentiment that each family posseses it’s cultural identity within “race”, but all other things being equal, race shouldn’t necessarily excarebate that in many circumstances. The fact that this question was posed according to race, without a direct acknowledgement of any obvious cultural distinctions between these two persons suggests that race may be more of a concern to the writer than they are willing to admit.

    I also agree with Matt’s sentiment, that these two are even considering marriage in a serious way, without having ever met in person. I used to hold reservations against “internet dating”, but have been induced to admit that this new trend holds as much “ice-breaker” legitimacy as all others forced social interactions that comprise the “dating scene”. I know of several personal friends and acquaintances who met via internet dating sites. Following reasonable and traditional courtships they were married, and so far so good. A close family member met her current spouse this way, and they have been happily married for almost ten years. So in terms of having a “place” to meet, I think the internet poses great opportunity. I am also intrigued by some of the pairing sites that will actually try and match potential “lovers” for compatability – I have no idea if this works, but at least see some value in the concept. What concerns me about some people who date on the internet is that they often take an aggressive approach where the entire courtship is “virtual”. They exchange photos and “talk”, but they don’t interact. It doesn’t seem much different than meeting in a club in Vegas, and rushing to a casino chapel. Bringing this back to the race issue, I find it somewhat difficult to believe that this person could fully understand what racial dichotomies exist between them and their virtual love interest if they haven’t had some exposure to how they live. Given that a high percentage of interpersonal communication is non-verbal, I wonder if a person could ever adequately understand a potential mate well enough, with that higher communication that only happens person to person.

  12. To Cowboy

    They can expect alot of differences. I’m a little shocked that you don’t understand that. I live in a major metropolitan city in the northeast, and I have many friends who married to other races. Just look at the immigration laws that are being passed in Arizona, don’t you think my friends who are married to a Hispanic are not affected by this type hate. I wish you can see some of his comments with regard to that. This is something, that I’m afraid from your response you will never fully understand.

    I’m sure African American Couples/White European couples still face major race problems especially in the south.

  13. The interracial aspect, if any, of this relationship is a non-issue compared to this woman’s desire to start a family with someone she’s never met.

    That struck me more than anything else as well.

  14. “I’m actually seeing more and more couples taking their relationships to a “fiancée” status without meeting. With telephone, text, skype and other such technologies – couples can find themselves quite attached without a physical meeting.”

    An in-law of mine became engaged this way. I couldn’t/can’t imagine a “normal” individual willing to make a proposal of marriage without a physical meeting, yet those two seem to be doing ok 2 years into the marriage. Is this a new form of generation gap? Shouldn’t todays YSA’s pay the same price of going to countless dances, silly activities, and conferences like they did in my day????? 🙂

  15. Dblock:

    I live in Utah, spent my early childhood until my teens as best friends with the black neighbor (yes in Utah), and I also have a few friends with interracial marriages between whites and hispanics. In most of the cases the hispanics were male, and good friends of mine since elementary school. Yes they do function within a latino community, but largely because of football, they also functioned in the broader society and shared in the American childhood culture as well. I realize this is all anecdotal, and 100% reflective of immigration life and racial segregation in America, but that wasn’t my point. My point was simply that race differences alone do suggest that a newly wed couple will face major cultural adjustments/clashes in their marriage. At least not necessarilly greater than the social culture clashes, which have been noted, that exist family to family. That is not to say however that every interracial couple in America will be free from this experience either. There are plenty of immigrant families who maintain a lifestyle that is more in keeping with their native cultures. Obviously cross-culture marriages among these groups, regardless of current national residence, will present greater cultural difficulties for those couples.

    The individual in this letter makes no reference to specific cultural idiosyncracies which may present conflict, but rather expresses apprehension about how his family will respond when they see (presumably) his “half-African/ half-White-American” girlfriend (fiance?). So in short, I either am uncapable of comprehending this situation as suggest, or again you are embellishing a point beyond reality.

  16. Thank you for your clarification on what you were trying to express earlier.

    I did not embellish anything. I could not understand how you wouldn’t understand the consequences of a African American Male marrying a White Angelo Female. and or vice verse. Given the history of race relations not only in our country, but also within our own religion. You still seem to think they would face more difficulty socially than from a race perspective and there in lies my argument. You gave an anecdotal response, but does that really mean you fully understand and comprehend what it was really like for your friends of a different race?

    I know that no matter how I try I will never know what it is to be a person of a ethnicity. I know what it is to be female and a minority in that sense, but I don’t know what it is to be a black female. And given the history of race in this country, I most certainly would not understand what I would feel like to have a SIL who is blond hair and blue eyed and of all things Mormon. So, no I don’t think I embellished anything in my response to you.

    I don’t think I embellished anything about the issue of race and or religion because the church in my area just had a fire side concert featuring,Gladys Knight, and while the concert was excellent.(it is Gladys Knight after all) the fireside was aimed directly to the predominately African American audience who was in attendance. She was trying to dispell the myths that black people have about joining the church, which this woman will have to do to marry this man.
    These are the issues that this couple will have to deal with, and believe me if she’s smart she will pick up on weather, or not his family is really accepting of her or not and hopefully she will make a wise decision.

    I focused my response on the issue of race/ religion because that is what stood out in my mind when I read the post. I also think its odd that someone would agree to marry someone without having ever met.

  17. dblock:

    No one ever said anything about understanding exactly what is like to be a minority. Of course I only know what it is like to be me. Your comment, devolved to issues of historical racism and Mormon race relations, when this was a simple matter of how much adapting will an interracial couple have to go through simply on account of race differences. That’s what I mean by embellishing. Interestingly enough, to make your point you stereo-typed me, by challenging not only my current state of thought, but my capability. On what premise, I wonder, would you so confidently make such an assertion? Smacks a little of the race arguments Brigham Young fancied, and which you clearly hold reservation against. In any case, it was a simple observation that many cultures are not that different, though you see race as being the primary distinction of culture. Lucky for our friend then, if you are correct, he will only have half the problems that a “fully” interracial couple will face, seeing as how there is only a fifty percent race difference between he and his viritual fiance.

  18. All I’m going to say is that you and I have difference of opinion when it comes to the term embellishing

    Again Its’ not embellishing when this woman is going to have to submit herself to a religion that has as yet come to terms with how it treats it’s African American brothers and sisters with regard to this issue. I don’t know how to link articles, but the there is a website called Feminist Mormon Housewives and they are discussing this very point. And Please don’t hold Bringham Young as being all-inclusive, he practiced bigotry out in the open, He is the primary reason why African American Males didn’t have the priesthood.

  19. I actually don’t think its’ a simple an issue as people are trying to make it out to be. He may not have a problem with her racial background. Its his family that is going to have the problem. Its the family that is going to cause alot of the stress that they will endure.

    I personally do not believe that people need to stay within their own respective race, religion, culture in order to find a mate that will make them happy. Those are attitudes that are from previous generation.

    And as a convert, I didn’t know about any of these things about the church. I only knew about the issues of race(i.e) African American and the issue of slavery and the role of the church during this time period because I’ve been doing research and reading on my own. These are the things that this woman will have to figure out on her own. And I don’t think its’ embellishment, nor is it unrelated to the topic at hand.

  20. It is embellishment because you are trying to make more out of this race difference than what really exists. Brigham Young was the furthest thing from inclusive, and I have no idea how you would have reached that conclusion from my comment? Even so the modern Church, particularly at the institutional level, is becoming more so. The old brand of Mormon racism is becoming largley extinct, to the point where the only race issues a potential convert will have to face are quotes in the historical record. Within the Church general membership there may be the occassional “old timer” who prefers the old perspective, but they are growing far and few between.

    Every couple,race issues aside, must struggle to adapt, but for American couples, or European couples, who are only culturally distinguished from each other by “race/color”, the adjusting process should be about on par with with couples who share a common race. You would like to make more out of it than there really is. But all of this distracts from the fact that the real issue is the fact that marriage is on the table, yet the have not been personally introduced.

  21. You and I will not ever agree on this issue, that is very clear. However, I did not embellish, I am many things anI d what I am not is a liar and that’s what embellishment means to me, so please stop using that word.

    As I stated earlier, I focused on race because that was what the young man was mostly concerned about. He stated that his family is not open to the fact that he might marry outside of his race. His new wife, if he decides to marry will have to deal with their racist attitudes, and beliefs.

    She stated that she will join the church just to marry him and please him. If the Church is as open minded as you say, than just as I stated, My current stake would not have felt the need to have Sister Gladys Knight, come perform ,and give a fireside chat devoted solely to the issue of African Americans in the Mormon church. I was there and I have the tickets. I live in Philadelphia where residents in West Philadelphia still remember and are dealing with the after affects of the MOVE movement where the Police decided to bomb a whole city block on a mostly black neighborhood. I live in a stake where the Africans from Ghana and other South African cultures won’t speak to one another. So please don’t tell me that I don’t know what I’m talking about when I see it everyday all around me.

    This woman is going to have to decide how much she is willing to deal with the issue of racism from within her own marriage and from society/ culture/ religion that she is going to have to interact with on an everyday basis.

  22. There are two issues of concern: the fact that they have never met and the fact that they are of different race. However, the only concern the actual poster is worried about is the race issue.
    I do not believe one trumps the other. Both issues have implications the couple will need to address. But I’m with dblock on this one: although we have made huge steps forward in race relations – there are still huge social issues we still face as a country and as a religion.
    Just on a personal note- in my dating years I dated two Hispanic men, an Asian man, a black man and many Caucasian men :). I was never approached with “concerns” until I dated the black man (who by the way was my same “culture” of American). I do believe that white/black still receives more discrimination than any other combination. Any thoughts?

  23. To answer Natasha’s question, I don’t know if the Black/white dating/marriage thing is as much an issue as the fact that many people just have a negative view of Afro-American men. Their own anecdotal view as well as the vast majority of media presentation cast Black men in a very bad light. Obliviously some specific individuals warrant that perception, but like all stereotypes, it falls way short of reality. so, the dating/marriage thing is viewed as Black men marrying “up” or White women marrying “down.” I do not think the white man/black woman combo gets the same level of scrutiny.

  24. Natsha

    As I stated earlier, I live in Philadelphia. I live with the ramifications of race in my everyday life all the time. There is no escaping it. And I totally agree with you as facing more discrimination if you marry a black man/ and or woman. This has been talked about in a national arena as well. With in the African American Community there is bias when highly educated men/woman marry outside their culture because they are perceived as either oreos or not being good enough to marry within. That language was just expressed to a friend of mine who is a member of the church and lives a few streets down from me.

    given the demographics of the church, there will be areas in the country where you could, and would have a closet supremeist. I think in terms of the area where I live the distrust goes back to the times of the civil war, when even the though,”The Fugigitve Slave Act,’ was passed, bounty hunters from the sounth could still come north and drag the former slave back to the plantation. And to bring it back to the present, When MOVE issue came about there was a clear line of demarcation within the city of Philadelphia.

    I have spoken to my friends who are in an interracial relationship and they always say its’ hardest on the people who is not the minority because they just don’t see it.

  25. Another thing that hasn’t really been brought up is that we still lack minority leadership in the church- especially within the USA. I’m in a ward with my first black bishop ever. But I wonder often how this dynamic affects our minority members.

  26. Natasha

    My branch President is Asian and he handles things in a very Asian way. There are those around him who try to and have under mind his authority and I’m sure that an African American Bishop is going to be run into the same kind of leadership issues. Depending on where he lives, he may face more opposition. I know when the last Bishop who was white left, there was a split in the branch. I don’t know if this was because of cultural issues as much as people having a hard time dealing with change. I think in this case it might be a little of both even for a bishop who is black.

  27. dblock:

    You were never accused of lying, as the subjective nature of our conversation would not warrant such a claim. You are insisting that this mixed race couple will face nearly unsurmountable (my word) challenges. I’m saying, that racial differences alone between a couple, should not yield the incompatability you seem concerned with. Let me put a finer point on some confusion we may be having. There was a time when Boyd K. Packer, among other Church leaders, would publicly discourage interracial marriages on account of cultural incompatability, which he and others felt generated a higher propensity for divorce. I’m disputing this notion as a general rule. Many Americans, regardless of race, enjoy a relatively (and I use that word loosley) similar lifestyle – to the point where cultural imbalances in marriage should not exist at levels higher than what could be expected among couples of the same race. As for how well has America integrated, that is more of a regional issue. I served my mission in the mid-west, and I can attest that racial tensions in many areas there were much higher than on the west coast.

  28. Interesitng discussion. Any bets on whether, next time the church revises the temple films, they’ll include actors/acresses who are non-caucasion? And if so, what will Lucifer be?

    By the way, Natasha, thanks for your response #10. I don’t have any reason to doubt you, but I am somewhat stunned that people actually become engaged without meeting each other in person. In your experience, what percentage of people who become engaged without an in-person contact proceed to get married?

  29. I’m not saying that they would face insurmountable challenges. What I am saying that the would face more challenges than a regular non mixed couple would. Specifically, depending on the area they live in they will face challenges some overt, some not so overt. I also believe that they would face the most challenge from his family, especially since they are not so open to a mixed race marriage.

    @ matt

    Arranged marriages are still practiced to today(i.e) Indian couples still practice this and a few years ago there was a famous case where an Indian girl met a non Indian and when she went to India her parents had her murdered for disgracing them and marrying outside the culture.

  30. IMO, race is less of an issue than cultural expectations. So an Asian spouse who expects the marriage to follow “Asian” norms marrying a British spouse expecting to follow “British” norms is where difficulties come in. However, if both spouses are from a similar culture (e.g. both are Americans or both are British), regardless of race, I think they will have more common expectations than not. Race isn’t the most important factor in racially diverse cultures. But the key is openly communicating and being aware of our expectations and being willing to bend to our spouse’s as well. Marriages are in the middle.

  31. 32 — That’s true as long as the mixed race couple shares culture. The cultural difference may be along racial lines, economic lines, social lines, educational lines, etc, etc. Race by itself isn’t the only defining element. But in my midwestern US city, while there are some of different races who share culture, I suspect there are many, many who do not, despite that they may all be “American”. Just my own observation.

  32. My family is more racially mixed than most. From Dutch to East Timorese to Sri Lankan and a range in between. But I live in Australia and while some may think we’re not very accepting of other cultures or races, that isn’t really the case. Our Christmas gatherings with my extended family are colourful and culturally enriched by the addition of the wives and husbands of my aunts, cousins and sibs. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

    In my opinion, the issue of conversion to Mormonism that is not necessarily a spiritual conversion is more of an issue. And could provide the most heartache if not approached carefully.

  33. I find myself inwardly divided on the IR marriage issues because I’m personally opposed to it (I would not marry outside my race and I encourage my children, those that are still single, of course, to do the same). Yet my older son has married a Mexican girl (her voice and general appearance belie the fact that she was born a Mexican national) and I love her as my daughter very much. AFAIC, my son was man enough to decide who he should marry and I think he’s picked a real sweetheart. I generally do not volunteer my negative feelings about IR marriage but I won’t hesitate to speak my mind (when do I ever?). One thing I do object to is being labelled “racist” for it. IMO, I feel as some of the older GAs did in that sustaining a marriage is hard enough, adding race and or other cultural mixing factors (defintely religion) is NOT a recipe for success!
    Paradoxically, I’m even more opposed to any laws (Loving vs. VA, 1967) restricting or forbidding IR marriages. While I may oppose it I feel strongly that it’s definitely NOT the business of governments to decide who (M-F) we should marry. The less government is in our lives, the better. Likewise, folks that mix their races should not be subjected to rudeness, ostracism, or violence. And I have a special anger towards those that would heap abuse on the children of IR marriages. They didn’t choose it! To persecute same is heinous and cowardly.
    All I can do is say my peace, peacefully, and be kind to all.

  34. Paul – I agree with you. Race doesn’t indicate alignment of cultural expectations any more than it is a sure indicator of a difference in cultural expectations. At this time. That doubtless has changed over 50 years or so.

  35. Paul

    What is Afaic?

    And I understand what your saying, but I would like to understand how it is that while you, or anyone else who is against inter-racial marriage is not racist? I am not trying to argue with you, I am just trying to see how it is that for lack of a better word you don’t feel that you are, or maybe racist when it comes to this particular area?

    Imo, the GA’s are of the same generation where decisions of this nature based primarily because of ones race, that’s my definition of being racist. I’m not however, saying that it is everyone else’ definition.

  36. Dblock — How would you define “racism”?

    Doug #35: “Yet my older son has married a Mexican girl…”

    Now I’m going to have that Marty Robbins song “El Paso” in my head all day.

  37. This is how I define racism,

    From Webster’s dictionary racism is 1) A belief is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce and inherent superiority.

    There is a different definition for discrimination: 1) The Act, practice and or an instance of discriminating categorically rather than individually, prejudice and or prejudicial outlook, action, or treatment.

    I agree with you that the government has no right in telling people should marry. On the face of it, it doesn’t appear to me that your not racist, but when you state that you happen to agree with the older GA who were against those marrying outside their culture/race, that smacks of racism/racist thinking. It also tell me that you are using GA to justify your feelings.

    This is what I was saying in an earlier post when I stated that some members in the church who are of a different ethnicity feel the prejudice either overtly, or not so overtly.

  38. dblock, I think you’re addressing Doug and not me.

    I will note that your definition assumes superiority of one race; Doug’s comment does not.

  39. So how does Doug’s (not Paul’s, or mine — keep an eye on who’s posting what) judgment that racial differences tend to unduly complicate marriage, reflect any belief in any “inherent superiority” of one race over another?

    Also (and this is not intended as a criticism of you personally, but rather of a linguistic trend), the word “smacks” smacks of unrigorous reasoning, namely, the notion that if something feels like something, it is that something. I’m less interested in what something “feels” like, than what it is. We’ve gotten used (thanks to exposure to too many second-rate high school English teachers) to using that word “smacks” as a substitute for good reasoning: Even if something is not actually “racist” (or “fascist,” or “apostate” or whatever), if it “smacks” (i.e, “tastes,” or feels) like that thing, that’s enough.

  40. it falls under the category of the old addage,” if something looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, its’ duck”

    Doug already stated in his own words he doesn’t agree with cross culture/ethnicity marrying. But, then on the other hand, he doesn’t like the government having rules and regulations about who people can marry. Then he holds up his sons’ marriage as an example of how he’s not prejudice.

    To me it doesn’t add up. to me his son is the one who is not prejudice. his father on the other hand states outright he doesn’t mind other people doing it, but not him and he uses the support of old GA’s who practice who supported racist ideas as means to justify himself.

    I don’t have unrighteous reasoning when someone states in his own words that he doesn’t believe in something. So, I would suggest that you take such rhetoric somewhere else. Precisely because this why we are attempting to have an open dialogue, Your statement only attempts to shutdown any kind of honest communication because your afraid of what may come of it.

  41. dblock, I agree: if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck, then it’s probably a duck.

    But what Doug wrote looks more like a tree than a duck.

    Your definition says that racism is a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority. (I’ve edited what you typed to make them readable.)

    Doug said he doesn’t recommend interracial marriage because of the complications such marriages face, not because he believes his race superior or another’s inferior.

    His post does not mention the word prejudice. You have somehow imposed that word into the discussion. I think you’ve misread his comment.

    That said, you certainly are entitled to your view, just as Doug is entitled to his.

  42. Here is my definition as defined by Websters’ dictionary for prejudice, maybe this can help clarify my position

    Any unreasonable feeling or attitudes regarding any racial, religious group

    So, while you are correct, in that Doug does not use the words prejudice in his response he does have attitudes which are and can be construed as prejudicial. None of us, including myself would like to think of ourselves in this way. Its’ hurtful, to everyone. But sometimes its’ conversations like these that can help us see them for what they are and if we choose to do so, we can all change.

    Telling people who are single and not married to not marry those outside there own culture/race/religion is expressing prejudicial attitudes.

  43. The only other thing that substantiates’ my feeling that he harbors feelings of racism is this,(my son married a mexican girl.her voice and appearance belie the fact she was born a Mexican national. So in his mind then she is more acceptable because she can pass herself off as being more American in appearance and attitudes. I wonder how accepting he would have been if she were not as pleasing to him.

  44. dblock — I make judgements all the time. And I have personal views. And I also would counsel my children to be cautious about mixed-religion or mixed-race or mixed-culture marriages. If that makes me prejudicial, so be it.

    A white anglo American, I’ve lived in Europe, North American, South America and twice in Asia; I’ve seen the struggles of mixed-culture marriages, and I would encourage my children to follow the counsel that Spencer Kimball gave as prophet: marriage is already a huge adjustment as two individuals try to form one family together. Having as much as possible in common will help with that process of growing together; the more differences there are, the more difficult the transition would be. The differences are not insurmountable, of course, but both parties ought to show up with their eyes wide open.

    That said, my chilren will choose their spouses, and I will love them because my children love them.

  45. Paul, I would say it’s more like a penguin than a tree. But still not a duck.

    Dblock, what is “unreasonable” about Doug’s belief that “sustaining a marriage is hard enough” without adding race and or other cultural mixing factors (defintely religion) is NOT a recipe for success”?

    Wrong does not necessarily equal “unreasonable.” (And I’m not sure he’s necessarily wrong — does anyone have any data concerning the relative success rates of same-race vs. different-race marriages?)

    If you could pick at one aspect of Doug’s thinking that comes closest to fitting a useful definition of “racism,” it would be that statment “race and or other cultural mixing factors.” You could spot in that, I think, an unreasonable assumption that race is invariably a useful proxy for culture, or substantial differences in outlook. Which is clearly not always the case. Exhibit A is my part-Hawaiian friends, all of whom married 100% haoles, and where (as far as I can tell) the only real “difference” in “cultural factors” is Grandpa’s really insanely da kine cooking.

  46. I knew I’d stir things up a bit!

    Only mentioned my daughter-in-law’s accent (more properly, lack thereof) and appearance to point out that it’s useless to stereotype. Many “Mexicans”, if you ever catch their TV, are very European in appearnance. A vertiable slew of blondes w/o the bleach! And actually, I find many of the “Latina” types with the sterotypical “Sanque de Lamanita” to be rather exotically beautiful. What makes my daughter-in-law “accpetable” is that she’s a fine young lady and has been the best thing to ever happen to my son.

    Aligning my IR marriage views with GAs, especially the older ones, is actually a bit self-decprecating, IMO, because at 51 I’m resisting with all vigor the ineviatable downhill slide to old fogeydom. Saying that I’m thinking like those than can be described as the “Ancient of Days” isn’t necessarily a positive. Just being candid. About thirty years ago, when I had joined the Church, the Priesthood revelation was fairly recent and you’d hear a GA mention the likewise caution about IR marriage. Nowawdays, opposition, even for benign reasons, is practically taboo.

    DBlock, I never said that I wasn’t “prejudiced”. All of us have prejudices, some can flaunt them more openly than others due to political correctness. What I attempt to be to the best of my abilities is open-minded and respectful of peoples rights to live their lives as they see fit as long as it doesn’t infringe upon me.
    (AFAIC – As FAR AS I’m Concerned). Google a website on Internet Shorthand.

    BTW, part of my personal “Fountain of Youth” is to run errands with my three-year old “racially mixed” granddaughter in tow. Especially when we pass within sight of a Sonic Drive-in (“Ice Cream Cones!!!!”).

    Han: Where did you dig up that old fossil?
    Luke: Ben’s a great man!
    Han: Yeah…great..at getting us killed.

  47. @ Silver rain

    Yes, because your using race as the determining factor in your reasoning.

    Paul

    Here is why the English language while eloquent at times, and then be so inadequate at other times. I wish I could find the words to pinpoint my feelings and thoughts more accurately. I have asked my friends on facebook who are in a inter-racial marriage and or of a different ethnicity how they would feel about this subject? As of yet, I have not herd any of their responses.

    As it is, I can only reiterate what I stated earlier, the statement that says, my son married a Mexican whose voice and appearance belies the fact that she was born a Mexican Naitonal. Given the current client in Arizona its’ a really ugly statement. Its’ saying that she’s good enough to pass for white. The same way that African American/White people can pass for looking like a regular white person. It just doesn’t set right for me, neither does using the counsel of Prophets who were of a generation where that kind of thinking was acceptable.

    I can only say this, Senator Byrd was a staunch segregationist and racist back in the day. It was only during the course of time that he came to realize how wrong his thinking was and if i’m correct he publicly asked forgiveness for all those that he knew he offended with his racist thoughts

  48. “Given the current climate in Arizona it’s a really ugly statement”

    And in Rhode Island. Don’t forget Rhode Island. Because it’s not just those awful Arizonans who are showing their true colors by enforcing laws every decent person knows are supposed to be ignored.

    “I can only say this, Senator Byrd was a staunch segregationist and racist back in the day. It was only during the course of time that he came to realize how wrong his thinking was…”

    It was only during the course of time that the cynical old buzzard saw the political landscape changing, and did what he had to do to keep getting highways named after him.

  49. Thomas your are entitled to your opinion as am I, that being said even those who arond Senator Byrd saw his change was for real and not just for political survival.

    I mentioned Arizona only because of the current situation with the border, which is supposedly what prompted the Arizona Gov to propose the current legislation.

    And more importantly since I never responded with sarcasm, or disrespect in any of my responses I would appreciate the same from you. There really is no need for it.

  50. D, I’ll try to behave. I think lightly calling people racists, given the seriousness of the charge, falls within the realm of disrespect, and I’ll confess I see enough of that kind of thing done on the cheap towards good people, that I get snippy about it. But “kindness begins with me,” as the old Primary song goes, so here’s trying again at that.

  51. Doug

    fair enough, I accept your last response

    Perhaps if you made yourself more clear at the beginning I may not have responded as I did, But no harm no foul, because the purpose of these post imo is to have an open honest discussion and I enjoy and learn much from them.

    Just as a point of clarification from me: the reason why I picked up on the sentence that stated her voice belies the fact that she is Mexican is because I have a speech problem. People always make assumptions about me all the time because of the sound of my voice.(prejudice)2) as a customer service representative I would often get complaints from customers complaining about my co-workers who didn’t sound American enough, or in other words their accents bothered them. Another form of prejudice

  52. @ Thomas

    I don’t recall ever calling Doug a “racist,” I did stat that the way he was coming across sounded racist/prejudiced to me. If you look at my responses I stated that how he was expressing his thoughts were racist, I don’t know Doug well enough to say that he is. But I also think, that Doug purposely phased his response the way he did to open up a Pandora’s box. He in as much admitted it when he stated,” I knew I stir things up a bit.”

    I think he did that so that he could purposely illicit responses just to see how people react and how the discussion would evolve.

  53. #56 – Guilty as charged. Actually, I knew that whatever I posted would likely rub SOMEBODY the wrong way, so why avoid it? As you all have said or inferred – the idea is to get open dialogue going.
    The “quality” of racism or prejudice is like beauty – in the eye of the beholder.

  54. Doug

    yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I doubt anyone who has experienced racism would agree with you about the “quality” of racism/prejudice is in the beholder, IMO it sounds like you are saying that certain prejudice and racism is okay.

  55. #58 – No, I have NOT said that “certain” (or any) prejudices or expressions of racism are “OK”. Human nature dictates that they are inevitable.
    For example, I don’t believe that demanding that folks have a reasonable command of English when transacting business in this country is racist or bigoted, yet I got that accusation while ordering at a McDonald’s drive-thru not too long ago. Likewise I don’t feel that preferring not to marry out of my race and advising my children to do same is “racist” at all, but I recongize that folks who are involved in interracial relationships or have family members in the same manner may be sensitive to expression of that opinion. Therefore, in polite company I refrain from bringing the matter up and would demurr if pressed. In a forum for discussion on the subject like this one, I should be able to voice my opinion freely w/o those with a chip on their shoulder seeking to pick apart every word.

  56. Doug

    I’m sorry, if I made you feel as if I was picking on your every word. That’s what happens when your a old English major. Certain words have very definite meanings for me. But as you said, we should be able to express our view points.

    IMO some post are more difficult than others not necessarily because of the content of the post or OP ,but because we don’t see the persons’ face who is doing the posting,nor do we hear the tenor of their voice which also makes communication on a post like this difficult.

  57. (sigh) If only I could accept apologies like Lord Vader….

    DBlock, you probably do better than I at getting your intended point across. I only MINORED in English…neverthless, apology ACCEPTED…

    IR Marriage, like abortion or “boxers vs. briefs”, is a touchy subject guarenteed to generate much heat and not necessarily shed much light. I enjoy honest exchange and getting my feathers ruffled a tad is but a small price to pay.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *