Love and Culture

Intercultural Couple Central Park“Modern love can be summed up in one quick status update: It’s complicated.  There are boundless romantic possibilities, unfettered by skin color, religion, ethnicity, class, or orientation.” begins an article titled “Love and Race” in this month’s Marie Claire.  The magazine kicks-off a three-part series on how people are meeting, dating and mating today.  It was one of those articles that at first glance, I need not delay, the issue was mine and I was going to pour over it.

Marie Claire highlights five women of culture and their stories.

Anna Holmes, a half-black, half-white women discovers her own racial blind spots, especially when it came to love.  She avoided dating darker-skinned men, assuming they were only interested in her “trophy” light skin.  She didn’t trust Caucasian men either, assuming they saw her as a novelty, as a way to sample another culture, or as a stand in for all black women.  Soon she realized that her racialization of romance was keeping her at arm’s length from deeper intimacy.

Michele Serros a Mexican-American recall’s her parent’s advice to never marry a Mexican.  Her childhood through young adult view that a Mexican husband could not provide a prosperous life for her was instilled by both of her Mexican parents.   Soon Michele had achieved, on her own, the kind of life her father said only white men could give her.  A revelation that freed her to be with the man she loved.  She eventually met a Mexican-American man and fell in love.  Antonio was a successful chef-owner of a vegan restaurant in Berkeley, California.  When she brought Antonio home to meet her dad, it was not without anticipation.  Michele’s last hurdle was overcome when it became clear to her father that Antonio broke the stereotype he and Michele’s mother perpetuated.  Michele touches upon the influence of movies such as Maid in Manhattan, Monster-in-Law and The Wedding Planner where the young Latina marries a wealthy white man on her cousins.

Ji Hyun Lee writes about battling the “docile, hardworking lotus flower by day and sexual tiger by night” stereotype of Asian women.  Those myths might feel antiquated but from her experience, are alive and well today in some form or another in the minds of many non-Asian men.  Her experience dating outside her race has made her become more open-minded about dating Asian men.  She writes, “I’m noticing that the Korean boys who were invisible to me in high school had grown up into a handsome lot.”

Helena Andrews a young black woman investigates the statistic she finds not only offending but not entirely true that 70% of black women are single.  A hot topic in the media, this fact has been the highlight of several news stories including an entire show on Oprah.  Helen’s curiosity is peaked when she notices that she, a single black woman, was in the minority of her mostly married social network.  Many of her friends had observed the same thing.  So where was this disparaging statistic coming from she wondered?  She decided to go straight to the mother lode of demographics, the U.S. Census.  She found that while it was true that 70.5 percent of black women were never married compared with 45 percent of white women, the statistic is based on women ages 25 to 29.  A statistic she found not surprising.  She found another statistic that only 30 percent of black women were married but the data included every female from 15 years old up to 90-something.  Something else she found revealing.  Upon getting in touch with a psychology professor who analyzed census data between 2000 and 2009, she learned that his research showed that most black women eventually do marry.  Helena continues about how her own black American culture buys in to the hype and how it’s perpetuated.

Lastly, Azita Ghanizada an Afghan-American woman learns about love and tradition through both her own experience and her parent’s.  After her family flees Russian invaded Afghanistan to Vienna, Virginia she finds she isn’t the only one in her family rebelling against strict Afghan conformity.  She witnesses her parent’s loveless marriage prolonged an additional six years because of great social pressure from their Afghani community.  A divorce would “bring shame” to their family.  When she finds attention diverted to her mother’s unheard-of divorce from her father followed by her parents new found romantic lives, she finds a new kind of freedom.  “The lesson they are learning is clear: Loving someone from the same race or religion doesn’t guarantee happiness… Marriage will come when it is right.”

To read the article in full, go to the April Issue of Marie Claire