It seems like some things never change, and unfortunately racism is one of them. The latest Old Navy ad, which features an interracial couple, has caused a slew of racist comments all over social media. Some people found the comments surprising — after all, it's 2016.
Sadly I know better than most that there are plenty of people who don't agree with mixing races.
In light of the big hullabaloo over the ad, I started thinking about the first time I met my husband. I’m biracial: half Korean and half African-American. My husband is Caucasian.
When I first saw him, his race was not the first thing I noticed — it was his smile. A few dates later, he happened to see a photo of my parents and proclaimed, “Ah, that’s what you’re mixed with!” That was the only conversation we had about my ethnicity until we got married.
My husband and I get a few remarks now and then. Mostly it’s just a surprised expression when I’m introduced to colleagues — I guess they didn’t expect me to be so brown. He gets the same when I introduce him to acquaintances. I suppose some people expect our spouses to match our own skin tone. I get my share of racist comments without my husband next to me. When I'm out with my boys, who have lighter skin and hair than mine, people ask me if they are my kids or if I'm the nanny.
The negativity against interracial marriages, dating, etc., should be well behind us. Hell, it’s the 21st century. Look around — bi- and multiracial people are everywhere. But thanks (or no thanks) to social media, it looks like racism and bigotry are alive and still kicking.
When I saw the Old Navy ad, the only thought I had was, “Can they show me a chubby lady so I can get a real sense of how that dress would look on me?” I had no idea the anger that simple photo of an attractive interracial couple and a cute little boy would stir up. There were comments on Old Navy’s Twitter feed that claim the retailer was committing “white genocide” and that they were trying to shove miscegenation down people’s throats. I had to reread the comments to make sure I'd read them right. It is 2016, correct?
I sometimes wonder if others think that way about me and my husband. True, we each get a lot of interest at family gatherings. There’s only a handful of non-white relatives on his side, and he’s one of a few white people on my side. When it comes to my kids, they are adored by both sides of the family. So why are interracial couples still a big deal nowadays?
I think it still has a lot to do with comfort. Something that is different to you can make you uncomfortable. You can decide to see a difference as an opportunity, or you can fear it. We’ve seen what fear over something different can do. Wars and senseless crimes are committed because of that fear. What starts off as a hateful remark on an innocent ad suddenly becomes society trying to commit “white genocide.”
It’s just an ad, people. Old Navy isn’t trying to set an example or kill the white race. It’s three pretty people that look fabulous in their clothing. Yet, I have to thank Old Navy for stirring up the pot. I think it’s important to see how much hate there is still out there. This helps us realize that we do not live in a perfect world. It’s a struggle that’s far from over.
I’ll take it one day at a time and love my white husband and multiracial kids. In the end, aren't we all a little mixed?
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