10 Questions Interracial Couples Are Tired Of Hearing (So Please Stop Asking Them)
If there's one thing that being in interracial relationships all my life has taught me, it's patience. A sense of humor has certainly been a good byproduct as well, but my biggest takeaway has been an adeptness at handling really uncomfortable situations; there's never a dull moment when I show up to a party arm in arm with a guy who isn't my ethnic match. Our society is still getting accustomed to seeing — and normalizing — couples who are racially different, and it doesn't help that we don't have that many strong examples of interracial couples in the media to look up to. I know, I know, Princess North is cute, but that hardly makes Kim and Kanye fantastic role models; and as much as I love Modern Family, Gloria and Jay's relationship is forced at best.
People's genuine curiosity can be endearing ... until the ignorance is tossed into the mix and rude inappropriate comments start flying. Worse than the comments, though, are the questions — because those require answers. Dumb statements, I can just deflect by changing the subject to Hillary Clinton or Jon Snow — but that's not possible when an inquiry is hanging over your head and everyone at the dinner table is waiting for your response. I finally became OK with telling friends and acquaintances when their questions crossed the line. It prevents another mixed race couple from being bombarded with the same rubbish — and helps others understand that interracial relationships aren't just oddities or celebrity occurrences.
For those of you out there who are dating someone of a different ethnicity than you, don't be afraid to stand up for yourselves too, as long as you do it with a smile on your face. These are the 10 questions interracial couples should never have to answer.
1. "But ... What Will Your Kids Identify As?"
Does it really matter? It's silly how we are so caught up in labeling and naming people's race and ethnicity, as if putting them in a box is the only way to understand their existence. There's much more to worry about in the world than categorizing each other, and I hope by the time I have a son or daughter, they won't be forced on any paperwork to choose one race over another. More importantly, I hope they're not left with the option "other." Yuck.
2. "So ... You Met Online?"
Nothing is wrong with online dating sites (I've had my fair share of OkCupid dates in the past), but this question implies that the only way we could I meet someone of a different heritage is by selecting on my profile that I am actively looking for a specific race in a partner. As if people who are racially different don't hang out, so there's no chance of them getting together.
So. Not. True. Interracial relationships can begin just as organically as same-race ones.
3. "Was It Weird When Your Parents Met?"
It's always uncomfortable when the oldies meet for the first time, regardless of the culture they come from. The small talk, the sharing of our childhood stories, the awkward silences — it's brutal. Please don't assume our parents meeting, though, is any stranger than yours and your SO's meeting; automatically assuming that moms and dads of different races can't get along is setting them up for failure already. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt. It's never been a problem for me or any other of my mixed race friends.
4. "Have You Always Been Into [Insert Racial Category]?"
Remove this from your vocabulary immediately — and don't let anyone get away with asking it in your presence again. I can't stress the importance of this one enough. If we continue to objectify individuals based on their race, we'll never be able to get over the insidious racism that creeps through our society. So don't ask your friend if she's always had "yellow fever."
5. "So, Are The Stereotypes True?"
Not cool to inquire whether Latinos are better lovers or if a black guy is well endowed. See above: by refusing to see others for who they are and defining them by stereotypes, we are dehumanizing them. Besides, we aren't with our partners because of these minute factors. We love them because we're a good fit and life is better when they're around.
6. "What Language Are You Going To Speak With Your Kids?"
I've tried to find a nicer way to answer this particular inquiry, but I generally come back to telling them that it's none of their business. I was surprised as I got older that this question kept popping up, and it would usually be attached to a passive aggressive comment about how confusing it might be for my kids if there are two or more languages bouncing off the walls in the house. I love the fact that my children will speak multiple languages, and there's no need to be nosy about it.
7. "Aren't You So Sad Heidi and Seal Broke Up?"
You can replace this particular couple with any other famous mixed race relationship that garnered a lot of attention in the media. It would still annoy me. Just because they're in the limelight doesn't mean they're our heroes or they're a beacon for interracial couples everywhere in the world to worship. They aren't trend setters we're trying to copy — interracial couples existed long before Seal and Heidi, trust me.
8. "Your Mom Wasn't Mad?"
Cue eye roll. I have a theory that new acquaintances love to ask this one because they're searching for drama, for juicy stories that will have them on the edge of their seat. Well, sorry to bore you, but my mom has never even asked what the ethnicity of my partner is, and most of my friends in interracial couples can say the same. I'm sure there are parents out there who unfortunately have had a problem with their son or daughter's mixed race relationship, but it's best not to assume that's the norm.
9. "Whose Food Do You Really Like Better?"
Yes, some of us are lucky enough to share our international cuisines with each other, but it's not like it's a competition. If you're curious about the food we cook and eat together on a regular basis, there's no harm in asking; just do it in a way that doesn't force us to choose which is supreme. The beauty of creating space for more than one culture in a relationship is that we never have to make that choice.
10. "Do You Think You'll Stay Together?"
I need a timeout after hearing this one. It drives me crazy. Would you ask this of any other single-raced couple sitting across from you at the cafe? OK then, don't bring it up around me and my boyfriend. It's hurtful; it's an offbeat way of telling us that our chances are slim because it's just weird and abnormal that we're even together in the first place.
Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; Giphy (11)