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Interracial marriages: what I have learnt

By Nina Steele 

I am a black woman married to a white man. Marrying outside my own race was on the cards for me from an early age. That is what my mother always wanted. She was convinced, based on her own experience that my chances of happiness would be greatly enhanced by marrying a white man.

My mother is a ruthlessly ambitious woman who always had big dreams for me, her only daughter (I have six brothers on her side). Her love life was terrible to put it bluntly. She had seven children by six different men (most of them already married), and so she had taken upon herself to make sure that the same fate didn’t befall me.

As anyone who has travelled to the Third World would attest, white people are treated as demigods, because of what they represent. In the eyes of many people in these countries, being white means being better off. This association of white people with a better existence is deeply ingrained in people’s psyches.

For my mother, it wasn’t just about money. She always had a romantic idea of white men as all faithful and decent. She was convinced that I would be treated far better than she ever was by marrying a white man. She seemed to have conveniently chosen to ignore the fact that her bad experience with men, was partly of her own making. What did she expect by getting involved with married men?

What I have learnt from my experience of marrying outside my own race, is that my mother was obviously wrong. That I ended up marrying just the type of decent and good man that she had envisaged for me all these years, does not change the obvious reality that no race has a hold on decency. There is no such thing as a perfect race or a perfect people.

There is still a lot of cachet attached to being married to a white person on the African continent. People still assume that you have an easy ride. Of course materially that may be true, but as we all know, material possessions alone don’t make you happy.

Having mixed race children is another thing people hold high. Mixed race people are treated with as much respect as white people. There is still an inferiority complex in many quarters with regards to skin colour. Sadly, for many, the lighter the skin the better.

My mother would have absolutely loved having mixed race grandchildren so she could show them off. That it didn’t happen is a disappointment I suspect she will carry for the rest of her life, although she is wise enough not bring it up.

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