Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Blogging About Culture And Interracial Marriages

Updated: January 30, 2010 10:58 am

As people around the world get closer through modern technology and cultural and racial barriers give way to mutual understanding and respect, interracial marriages are becoming more common. A number of mixed race and religion families are sharing their experiences in the blogosphere. To look at a culture and country through the eyes of an outsider is a learning experience.

            At InterracialMarriage, the blogger—an Australian male—is married to a Chinese woman who happens to be an atheist. Writing about the way they celebrated Christmas as family with their son, he finds himself in a fix trying to make sense of his wife’s atheist views

and belief in traditional Chinese rituals.

            “Ms B may not believe in God because of a lack of proof, but this does not stop her believing in luck, or in Feng Shui, or in numerology, or in any other number of cultish beliefs that seems to have widespread basis within the Chinese community. I sometimes notice Ms B performing strange rituals at home to ward off bad luck, and she has even cost us a lot of money in re-positioning our front and back doors, in order to capture good luck in our home through good Feng Shui. Now I too see no basis in these beliefs, but I tolerate them for Ms B’s sake. I guess this is what she too does for me with my religion.”

            When it comes to a foreign culture reading between lines does not come easily, it seems; even when you marry someone from that culture. But what do you do when you try to embrace your significant other’s cultural practices and end up standing out among colleagues?

            At GoriGirl the blogger, a white woman married to an Indian Bengali man, shares her experience of “wearing sindoor as a white woman”. Hindu-married women wear sindoor (vermilion power) on their forehead and this practice is common in many parts of India and Nepal. But how about the practice in Washington DC?

“No, my problem with wearing sindoor is that most days I’m headed into work where there are a fair number of Indian people. And none of them wear traditional Indian clothing, except for the occasional short kurta certainly there isn’t any sindoor-wearing going on among the married ladies! One older Bengali co-worker even expressed amazement that I followed the ‘old-fashioned’ tradition of wearing a loha—a gold-plated iron bangle that serves as a wedding ring among Bengali women on my left wrist daily. …The last time I wore sindoor to the office, my boss wanted to know if I needed a band-aid for the cut on my head. Yeah. Yeah, I know. Does anyone else have problems with this?”

            Standing out was also in mind of TheGoriWifeLife blogger, who is an American married to a Pakistani man. She writes about what she is wearing while visiting Pakistan:

“This time, I brought two pairs of jeans and a few shirts because I thought that at least around the house I wanted to be comfortable, since that is my daily uniform back home. But somehow I’ve ended up wearing jeans paired with a Pakistani shirt and dupatta when we go out probably as many times as I’ve worn shalwar-kameez. We’ve even gone on several walks around the neighbourhood and it feels totally normal and at ease. Somehow things seem different this time.”

            Difficulty of understanding and being accepted in a different culture is something interracial couples face regularly. Sometimes they also face questions about the basis of their relationship, and when marriage and immigration status get mixed up it is not comfortable.

            At IndiaTies , blogger Heather Lurdkee, an American married to an Indian, questions people who see interracial marriage as a status symbol or a way to get permanent residency status.

            “For my husband, being married to me (a white girl) isn’t much of a status symbol—he didn’t go out looking specifically for an American or a white girl. He didn’t ‘need me’ in order to get somewhere in life. We just happened to be at the right place at the right time and things worked out. However, some of my husband’s Indian friends have expressed their desire to find a white girl to my husband. One friend (from India— who recently came to the States) actually said to my husband, ‘Wow, you’ve got it made, I have to find a white girl like you…’ And he was serious!”

The trial and tribulations of interracial couples show a mirror to how far we—as a civilisation—have come in accepting and respecting differences. These blogs are part of that mirror and are also a tool in cultural and social understanding. (Global Voices)

By Bhumika Ghimire

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