I do it, and I do it big. Here's to not forgetting about it.

Posts tagged ‘interracial marriage’

The Good Fight

My two previous posts notwithstanding, I don’t tend to dwell on this element of our relationship: 

 

I must confess that there is one time I am given a stark reminder of our cultural differences. Any guess? I’ll wait while you think. 
Would you care for a hint? 

  
Our radio presets, naturally. 

I feel it’s important to note before I proceed that I do not believe in “white music” or “black music” in the stereotypical sense of music belonging to certain listeners. Of course music originates from different cultures, and even subsets of American culture, but all cultures share a need to express feelings through music. I do not think it is inherently bad that people like what they know. Problems occur when we are judged for listening to music that is not “ours.” That’s stupid. Know that when I write “his music,” I am referring to his preferences, not his culture.

I am happy to report that I really dig Adonis’ music. He loves Greek music, classic rock, and soft rock. He enjoys my music as well – soul, funk, Caribbean, classical. We share our music with one another, give our honest thoughts, and have fun taking turns. I’m thankful that our presets will likely never be something to fight over. I do wonder, however, about what our presets represent and how we will handle it as a family. 

Now, I can hear your palm slapping your forehead. “Joan. Maybe music is JUST music,” you think to yourself. But all of us come with all kinds of presets, and most of us think that they are good and worth keeping. Adonis can listen to greek music in my car all day but I’ll be damned if he changes one of my presets. I have a feeling he feels similarly. We are proud of who we are. Thankfully, as American ethnic minorities, there’s not the pretense of thinking that either one of us is “normal,” which, of course, does not exist.

I want my offspring to not just embrace both of our cultures but to be as we are, enjoying exploring outside of their box. I ask myself how I would feel if they rejected my presets. Would that mean they didn’t appreciate that part of their heritage? Am I okay with indifference? Would I be okay if it were the reverse, that they were not into anything Greek at all? All of those potential things perturb me, but not as much as the idea of them feeling like they have so many presets they aren’t comfortable anywhere. I am ‘just’ ethnically mixed (as opposed to racially, at least for the most part) and sometimes it is a fight to feel like I belong anywhere. I think one of the reasons Adonis and I work is because as an immigrant, he has had to fight for the same thing. We’ve found belonging with each other and it is beautiful. I will always fight for my family to be at peace within ourselves and to help foster environments where others are made to feel at peace with us.

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Party Politics, Part II

Apparently, Adonis and I had similar takeaways from the dinner party, but mine was more analytical and his more personal. 

Me: Wow. Prejudice is everywhere. Everyone is the same. Heh. 

Him: I can’t believe my friends were not accepting of you! 

Huh?

Initially, this caught me off guard. I suppose it was because the party had a different purpose for me than it did for him; I wanted to be with him and get to know his people. Honestly, the reverse didn’t even occur to me because I do not open up if I do not trust in the exchange of ideas/emotions. I ask questions, I politely engage, I actively listen, but it ends there. 

I reflected upon my bringing Adonis around my circle of friends. I can’t think of an instance where anyone close to me hasn’t made an effort to get to know him and be excited for us. I guess finding the love of your life and an upcoming wedding IS dinner party conversation if you haven’t seen a friend in a while, but it didn’t come up. He lamented that he believes it’s subtle prejudice and that he thought the people he knew were different. “Why?” I said. “The whole conversation last night was about how some people are better than others.” 

Adonis’ reaction reminded me why I get more excited every day to be Mrs. Katsopolis. I hate that he was upset, but I love that he knew there was something over which to be upset. I love that we can be honest in a non-threatening way with each other despite our different backgrounds. While the idea that we live in a post-racial society is complete nonsense, when I am out and about I am likely to assume mistreatment/lack of interest is due to self-absorption or insecurity, a lot of which I saw last night. It’s just not a far leap to think that if you think you are the best thing to happen to civilization that I would be looked at as inferior. Solomon said it best:  

“A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭18:2‬ ‭NASB‬‬

I think it really sucks for Adonis that by choosing to marry a black woman he will likely not be able to show me off in the way he wants to. He’s losing some of his privilege by choice! How amazing is that?! He sees things in people he wouldn’t have seen if he were not with me. I say this because it humbles me – he is proud of being with me and wants others to appreciate me, too. It’s not that the feeling isn’t mutual; I think life has just taught me to expect less from people. No matter what is on my inside, I’m simply not going to be seen as a catch by society. Not everyone in my family grasps what a catch I have, either. The only difference between he and I is that I was prepared for this. I’ve been prepared all of my life for this kind of foolishness, from all sides. I know that I’ve hit the freaking jackpot, but if you don’t see that it’s really not my problem. What can we do other than that get married and start making cinnamon babies to piss off more people? 

 N.B. I feel like Adonis would want me to tell you that he is actually taller than I am. Don’t let my heels fool you. 

Party Politics, Part 1 

I did something a little crazy on Friday night. 

Per usual, I was talking to Adonis throughout the day when he drops this bombshell on me: 

We’re invited to a dinner party. Tonight.

  
If you know me, you know that 1) I am the type of person who plans her spontaneity and 2) I am not one for large, non-family gatherings. Make no mistake – this is not because I am uncomfortable around a lot of people, as someone recently surmised as I turned down a different invitation. It’s that I like real, intimate, BS free conversations with individuals and it’s difficult to get past small talk at these parties. I get that it is an important way to show love to people, but it burns me out. Moreover – what’s with the 6 hours notice? Clearly we can’t be that important to these people. That being said, Adonis rarely asks me to do anything like this, and he accompanies me to fun things like races and concerts, so I didn’t put up a fight. Though we’ve been together quite some time, I haven’t met too many of his people because of his crazy chef schedule, and I knew this was a golden opportunity.

Because the party was located in between us geographically, we met there. I also figured that I would be able to leave when I needed to in order to sleep on time; I hate being held party hostage! Basically, nothing was of note until the after-dinner conversation, which turned to politics. “Finally!” I thought. “Some action.” Greeks are like Jamaicans, in that every conversation eventually turns to politics, so I was very comfortable. 

For the next hour and a half, I think I spoke maybe – 5 times? 10? I sat mostly in silence. I am one not to speak unless I feel it will be productive, and it was the type of conversation where I knew it would not be. It’s quite normal for people discussing politics to have an agenda and not really listen to what the other persons are saying. Basically, it seemed like a d*** measuring contest. I smiled to myself as I earned good fiancee points and listened to his friends talk about everything wrong with Greece and all the people they blame. 

My favorite part of the evening was when the conversation turned to “good people.” They were talking about “real” Greeks and how people on certain islands are no good and how their not being “truly” Greek explained it. I laughed inwardly. People everywhere are the same – everyone thinks they are the best and everyone else is second class. 

As bedtime approached, I excused myself for the night. Adonis said he would follow soon after. Not gonna lie, another reason racing is one of the best things to happen to me is that I have a legitimate excuse to escape social foolishness. However, I can’t say it was a wasted evening; in fact, it was quite interesting as sociological experiment – the way I believe a dinner party should be enjoyed. 

Fully Engaged, Fully Free

The June 17 Charleston Massacre has moved me in many ways. I have been moved to prayer. I have been moved to anger. Perhaps most interestingly, I have been moved to remind my fiancé of something that is still, apparently, a big freaking deal.

I am black.

Now, it’s not as though this something of which he was unaware; in fact, I believe he possesses a hyper-awareness of this as we are out and about. He’ll tell me that he notices people looking at us when we are together. While I choose to pretend that it’s simply because we are unbelievably good-looking, I know that I’ve just developed an immunity to such looks, which are on the spectrum from curiosity to hatred. When you live life as a racial minority, being weird is normal. Adonis is choosing to join the club by marriage.

When you eat chocolate, you manage your calories. When you marry chocolate, however, there is a lot more to manage. Are you prepared to be the father of a black son? It is my desire that any child that God gives us will embrace all parts of their heritage – Greek, Jamaican, African, American. The reality will be that if I have a son walking home from school, the ‘Tyrone’ part of his heritage will be seen, not the ‘Onassis.’ What are we doing as a couple, as Hyphenated-Americans, as good citizens who profess to love Jesus – to make this less scary?

Yesterday, the two of us were buying fireworks and we saw someone wearing a hat with two flags. One was the American flag, and why wouldn’t someone be wearing his country’s flag on the day the country’s Independence is celebrated? The other was the flag of a country that attacked the United States, the irony of which I’m sure was missed by the bearer. I stared at him as he proudly spoke of his rights to be able to wear what he wants because this is his MURKA. I was ready to leave before I realized he didn’t work there but was simply a blessed patron. How remarkable it must be to wear something that represents hatred and freely walk about while Jamal Onassis will have to be reminded that he’s taking his life into his own hands when he wears a hoodie and keeps his hands in his pockets.

In the meantime, I am happy that the most important freedom is not in the hands of anyone who perceives me, the choice of my fiancé, or our babies. Surely that fool at the fireworks stand is shackled by ignorance – at best. I am free in Christ and am thankful that no one can take that away from me. God help us figure out a way to engage the culture so future mothers don’t have to heave a mournful sigh at the thought of buying her son a sweater.

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