What We All Want
I'm sure it's no surprise to you dear reader that I come from a diverse background and that my family is a fun, mixed bag of nuts :) For those of you wondering, I am half Indian and half Puerto Rican. My husband is 100% Korean-American which makes my son 50% Korean, 25% Indian, and 25% Puerto Rican. I like to joke that we're like a meeting of the United Nations. On a day-to-day basis I don't usually think about our diversity until I am made to think about our diversity, like when perfect strangers approach me and ask, "What are you?" If I'm in a particularly sassy mood, my response is usually something like, "I am a human being" or "I'm an American." Their curiosity stings a bit because what they are saying is that they don't see me as a woman, wife, mother, daughter or sister. What they mean in that simple question is that they see me as something other than themselves, something foreign.
A recent Old Navy ad made me think about my family's diversity and how our relationship is seen by some as something "other," as an "abomination." The ad shows an attractive black woman with a white partner and a black/mixed race child. The ad initially received a slew of negative comments. I couldn't bear to read all of the comments but to give you an idea of what was said, People Magazine abbreviated a few..."several commenters accused the company of promoting "forced integration" and "white genocide" and some even vowed to "never step into an @OldNavy store again."
One tweeter replied to the add, writing, "Interracialism is disgusting." http://www.people.com/article/old-navy-interracial-family-ad-twitter-love-wins
This same kind of negative reaction happened a few years ago when Cheerios highlighted a mixed-race family in one of its commercials http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/31/cheerios-commercial-racist-backlash_n_3363507.html
It was again felt that same year when an Indian-American woman won the 2014 Miss America pageant https://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/a-lot-of-people-are-very-upset-that-an-indian-american-woman
The basis of hate and anger is often rooted in fear and anxiety. What I don't understand is what is so scary about these families? What is so scary about a tan skinned Miss America?
My decision to marry my husband had nothing to do with anything other than I saw a man (not an Asian man) who loved and supported me through some difficult moments in my life. His quiet strength offers me comfort. He's smart without being arrogant. We have the same sense of humor. Our personalities compliment one another. I knew he would make a wonderful husband and a great father, and I was right. While my family's skin tone may have a touch more pigment than some, I can tell you that we're pretty typical. We get up and get ready for our day just like everyone else. We kiss each other good night. We budget and watch our finances and plan for our future. We worry about our son's well-being and education. We celebrate all of the major holidays, maybe with some ethnic touches included, like my mom's rice and beans next to the Thanksgiving turkey, or my husband's family's kimchee next to our Independence Day hot dogs, but essentially other than that, we want what everyone else wants. We want to live our best lives. We want to give our son a good foundation for his future. We want good health, good schools, a great place to live. When you see families who look different from your own, I can assure you that they have the same worries and concerns you do.
The United States doesn't look like it did when it was first founded. Women can vote. We can work outside of the home. Dads sometimes stay home with the kids while moms provide for the family. Just as America has changed, so have our notions of family. Families can have two moms, or two dads. Families can consist of blood relatives or a chosen motley crew of friends. Families can be birthed or adopted/fostered. Families can look like yours or something completely opposite of yours. No matter what they look like, the basis for all families is LOVE. My wish for our world is that we can all love more, and hate less because at the end of the day, no matter our background, our hopes and our dreams for our families are the same. ~HZM