Social Question

clioi's avatar

Problems with interracial relationships?

Asked by clioi (532points) April 4th, 2010

A sociology professor I know once told me that “black people and white people don’t understand each other”. Not that they can’t get along or interact, she meant that there is a considerable cultural disconnect between “white culture” and “black culture”. How much do you think this affects interracial relationships? And the question is not restricted to just black people and white people. Can the cultural differences between people of different races be enough to stand in the way of their being together?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

49 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

Where do you demarcate a cultural difference from a social difference? Should Jews and Gentiles not intermarry? How about Sicilians and Florentines?

ragingloli's avatar

Men and Women do not understand each other, so they should not marry either.

Arisztid's avatar

I am in an interracial relationship… I am Rromani Gypsy, my wife is white. Your sociology professor sounds like s/he is farther behind you because you are not limiting your question to black and white while the statement from your professor is limiting it to black and white.

A problem is lack of acceptance from society in general which, luckily, is passing. That can have violent results.

Another problem can be lack of acceptance from the families. That can be a huge problem, probably the biggest in my opinion. I think that this one destroys many interracial relationships.

Then, yes, there can be cultural clashes between the two individuals involved. This can be mild, the two people being from similar enough cultures to not take much adaption, t severe, the two people being from vastly different cultures.

This takes understanding, a willingness to learn, and a willingness on both parties to bend and meet halfway.

The “black and white people do not understand each other” statement which, aside from being annoying in the assumption that black and white are the only ethnicities in interracial relationships, is not so. As I said, some people have divergent cultures they have to deal with but, if they care, then can and will understand each other.

Not being able to understand someone is simply lack of caring enough to learn. If you love someone, you and that person shall put forth the effort to learn.

nebule's avatar

@ragingloli I quite agree :-}

SABOTEUR's avatar

The only problems associated with interracial (or any other) relationships are the stuff that people bring to the relationship.

the100thmonkey's avatar

I’ve been married to a lovely Japanese lady for 6 years now (I’m Scottish). In the literal sense, we didn’t understand each other when we started going out – I took a dictionary to our first date.

Although I still find her reactions confusing on occasion, I would say that our differences are our strength. Arguably, we’re more likely, in some ways, to understand each other because we have to negotiate so much – which city in Japan we’re going to live in after I graduate from my master’s course, how long we’re going to live there, when do we move back to the UK/an English speaking country, how we’re going to educate our children, which language we’re going to use in the home, etc…

You understand people by talking to them. Your professor friend was probably leaving out @SABOTEUR‘s “stuff” – the schemata we all have which informs our seemingly ‘instinctive’ reactions to situations. It’s not irrational to assert that black people from a deprived area in Baltimore, for example, probably have somewhat different schemata from white people from Beverley Hills; it’s irrational to assert that they can’t understand each other.

The largest determiner in how well people from different backgrounds can make stable relationships is patience.

sweetteaindahouse's avatar

I’m just gonna state what I have seen in interracial black and white relationships. It doesn’t matter which sex is which color. Either the black person acts “white” as people say, or the white person acts “black”. You never have some gangster that sells drugs and kills people getting married to a woman in congress.

dpworkin's avatar

@sweetteaindahouse Gee, which color is the gangster?

Arisztid's avatar

@sweetteaindahouse Why would either person have to act any differently than normal just because they are in a relationship with someone of another ethnicity? Do those of us in interracial relationships have to act like the ethnicity of their partner? If so, I am doing it wrong and so is my wife. I am acting like Arisztid, she is acting like @Keysha… period. So, should I act white or should she act Gypsy? Would you care to stipulate the requirements for either of us to attempt this?

Would you care to define “acting white” or “acting black”? Or… acting [whatever]?

Ditto what @dpworkin asked. Is gangster activity limited only to black people? If you think this, you need some education.

Keysha's avatar

@sweetteaindahouse You say You never have some gangster that sells drugs and kills people getting married to a woman in congress. Well, since most people tend to marry people they know, and most people know others in the same area/neighborhood/line of work as they are, it would be a bit far-fetched to see that.

And you show your narrow-mindedness when you say there is someone acting a certain way. I know several people of different ethnicities, and they ‘act’ themselves. Human. And American. If you do not see that, either you are in a strange area, or you are particularly blind.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@the100thmonkey: Isn’t that ironic…I’m black and I’m from that “deprived area in Baltimore” you spoke of. I’ve never had a problem with interracial relationships, but I consider myself fortunate enough to have been exposed to non-black people at an early age. In the 6th grade, I learned firsthand that despite everything I’d heard, there were no significant difference between races other than the crap people tend to perpetuate to keep people divided and ignorant.

davidbetterman's avatar

White gansters:
Al Capone
J. Edgar Hoover
Machine Gun Kelly
Ma Barker
Bonnie (& Clyde)
George Bush (both)
Et al….

the100thmonkey's avatar

@SABOTEUR: The largest determiner in how well people from different backgrounds can make stable relationships is patience.

phillis's avatar

It’s true – there ARE cultural differences to overcome. I dated a black man for 5 years, and married a Hispanic. THere have been numerous issues, not the least of which was the role my husband expected me to “play” as his wife. It took us years to get through that.

prolificus's avatar

Did this sociology professor happen to be Keith Bardwell‘s professor, too?

Answering the question…

OP: How much do you think this [cultural disconnect] affects interracial relationships?

Regardless of skin color, differences between cultural backgrounds can affect any relationship if the couple is not equipped to communicate, to appreciate differences, or able to understand the other’s perspective. Interracial couples have no more difficulty understanding cultural differences than do couples of the same skin color who are of varied cultural backgrounds. The impact of cultural disconnect on any relationship depends entirely on the interpersonal skills and cultural competence of both individuals.

OP: Can the cultural differences between people of different races be enough to stand in the way of their being together?

I don’t think cultural differences would diminish the longevity of a relationship. It is possible that there could be conflict and tension outside of the couple, either from family members and/or from those who disapprove of the relationship. The conflict and tension could negatively affect the relationship. But, if the couple is able to practice principles of healthy relationships, then there is no reason the couple could not find strength in their commitment to one another.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@the100thmonkey Yes…

intelligence helps a bit too.

dpworkin's avatar

@phillis and what had that to do with “race”?

SABOTEUR's avatar

@phillis What you describe are difference between individuals. Just because the black man you dated or the Hispanic you married behaved a certain way or had certain expectations, doesn’t mean all such men are the same.

phillis's avatar

@dpworkin @SABOTEUR Hi, guys! The details included ”....there is a considerable cultural disconnect….”, which is what I was responding to. When I enroll my children in school, fill out a patient form at a doctor’s office, or fill out the 10 year U.S. census, I have to indicate and identify each race in my home.

SABOTEUR's avatar

@phillis That’s a problem?

phillis's avatar

@SABOTEUR Is what a problem? No matter…..I don’t have a problem with anything I mentioned. Different races have propensities toward different diseases anyway, so it makes sense that a doctor would want to know the race. I don’t care waht they ask on the 10 years census, and asking a child’s race for schools makes sure that all races are treated equally. So, I’m good :)

SABOTEUR's avatar

@phillis Sorry…I misunderstood. The question concerned problems with interracial relationships; I interpreted your comment(s) to be reflective of problems you’ve encountered, not differences.

phillis's avatar

@SABOTEUR Oh! Yeah, they have been problems I’ve encountered, but they were due to cultural differences.

Arisztid's avatar

@phillis Cultural difficulties can be overcame if both sides are willing to bend and to learn. From what I have seen, it comes down to a problem of personalities if the people involved are not willing to learn and bend.

phillis's avatar

@Arisztid Personality can easily affect the speed at which cultural differences are overcome. Good point, my friend.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I am a white Australian of English and South African background, and my girlfriend is an Australia of Asian background. She is as Australian as I am, but we have a few nuances that are different, like me not knowing how to use chopsticks. Althought the cultural differences between us are minute, I think it just adds to the fun. Any relationship is a learning experience, and I see no reason why this should not include cultural learning.

Arisztid's avatar

@phillis Exactly and you are welcome. :) It does help a person when they are exposed to many cultures early on. That way they are more likely to be open to new cultures.

bob_'s avatar

@phillis Was he expecting home-made tortillas? XD

yoshiboshi's avatar

I am in an interracial relationship.

I admit that we have trouble accepting certain parts of each others cultures, but we love each other enough to try and learn to accept them over time. We are both not growing together in separate cultures, instead, me and him both have our own culture. A world that we create ourselves. In our world, we can bring in aspects of our cultures, or more, but we never grow separated, as if in different cultural worlds.. I hope that makes sense…

I’m 100% for interracial relationships. I think we need more of them around.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

This is a sociology teacher? wow. I wouldn’t want to take their course.

clioi's avatar

I’m also in an interracial relationship, which is sort of what prompted the question. My boyfriend is black and I am white, and we get along well and i think understand each other as individuals, but i feel like he sometimes acts differently around me than around his black friends – like he’s accommodating me.

Pandora's avatar

I would understand if what he means is that cultural differences can make a marriage more difficult. In a marriage there will always be misunderstanding and differences and of course if you add cultural or religious beliefs to the mix than it will be even more difficult. But does it really matter in the end if you both are willing to compromise and make it work? The same could be said for a marriage of a couple who have identical upbringing.
However there are many cultures that are very similar, and of course there are those raised in a culture they do not appreciate their basic beliefs.

phillis's avatar

@Pandora There are all kinds of differences, even within cultures! You’re absolutely right. Finances and child discipline are the top two that actually cause divorce.
@bob Yeah, that, too! He wanted me in the kitchen all the time, or cleaning something. That just isn’t feasible in AMerican culture.

Pandora's avatar

@clioi, Guys or girls will sometimes act differently around their friends period. It may be that what you see is the real him. What they see it the guy he is expected to be.

bob_'s avatar

@phillis Ay caramba!

Pandora's avatar

@phillis, I hope you gave him directions for taco bell. LOL

phillis's avatar

Yo quiero Taco Bell, nino!

Pandora's avatar

man, now I’m hungry

bob_'s avatar

@Pandora I like Taco Bell, but it’s no substitute to real Mexican food.

doctiresquire's avatar

im white ..african american ..i guess im in the same race category as all africans that live in america ..i`m the same race as arabs from africa…whites from africa….and negros from africa .were all african americans…so if your talking about skin color ..i`m attracted so a couple negros ..a couple arabs a couple whites and a couple orientals ..and i will get involved with any one i choose to.. and i surly don`t care what someone else is doing…8 to 80 blind crippled or crazy ..if they cant walk ill carry em…..i like em all

phillis's avatar

@doctiresquire Fabulously open-minded! I have two little girls. Thanks for the heads up :)

doctiresquire's avatar

no problem…if i was you…when they`re 18…. i`d introduce them to the houston rockets .pro basketball team ..

phillis's avatar

I’ll cancel the child molester address alerts for my area :)

Strauss's avatar

Interracial relationship for going on 23 years. We had no difficulty with any “intercultural” differences.

@prolificus, it’s interesting that you should mention Keith Bardwell. We knew from the start any problems involving the interracial aspect of our relationship would come from without, rather than between us. Sure enough, it happened sooner rather than later. My oldest brother (R.I.P.) thought that I was making the biggest mistake of my life. He gave me soma list of reasons similar to those of Bardwell, citing the effect on any children we would have.

We raised 2½ children (the ½ is ten now), and the oldest two are 23. They have had no problems related to their mixed-race status, and have been accepted with open arms by my (mostly) lili-white extended family.

sweetteaindahouse's avatar

@dpworkin @Arisztid @Keysha @davidbetterman I knew when I wrote it that people would say stuff like you did. That is why I wrote “I’m just gonna state what I have seen in interracial black and white relationships.” I was only comparing black and white interracial relationships, that is why I said it. I live in a really small country town where there are interracial black and white relationships and they are usually the way I said earlier. @davidbetterman I am not a dumbass. I am aware of all the white gansters and other color gansters. I was just using ganster in the same way it is portrayed in all the songs and movies that kids like these days. I hate rap by the way. 60s and 70s rock is better.

josie's avatar

My girlfriend (she hates the word-a cultural difference?) is an Arab. Never been a problem.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@suzanna28 Please don’t use CAPS. It is equivalent to shouting, and actually makes communicating your point more difficult.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther