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Racy JC Advice: Stop Hiding the Truth (and Your White BF)
Photo: Racy JC
I’ve been dating my boyfriend, Colin, for over a year now, and we are planning on moving in together. I recently met his parents and they were super nice and open. Now he wants to meet my parents. The problem: They definitely won’t approve. You see, Colin’s white and my parents are from Kenya. Marrying fellow Kenyans is very important to them. Hell, they refused to meet my older sister’s first boyfriend because he was Ethiopian. (Ethiopia is right next to Kenya!) What do I do? I really like Colin and I don’t want his feelings hurt by my parents’ snubbing. I’m embarrassed by my parents’ closed-mindedness and the irony of the situation—my father’s mother and family disapproved of his relationship with my mother (though for different reasons) and repeatedly tried to break them up.
Dear Flustered Over Family,
Thank you so much for writing. Sadly, your problem is not unique. No matter the race, color, or creed, parents often look for ways to reject their child’s relationships. Racial and cultural differences historically are have been the easiest reasons to use. “He will never understand our culture,” the mom sighs. “Your kids will have problems!” the father protests. These cookie-cutter excuses are even less valid now than before, and furthermore, they don’t apply to a couple in the cohabitation stage. So don’t let yourself get sucked into that trap.
I loved your comment: “Hell, they refused to meet my older sister’s first boyfriend because he was Ethiopian. (Ethiopia is right next to Kenya!)” What you said is great for two reasons: First, it showed that you have a great sense of humor, which is important for anyone in an interracial relationship. Second, it shows how ridiculous these “culture” excuses can get. If your older sister’s boyfriend were Kenyan instead of Ethiopian, there would have been another excuse. They would have said he was from the wrong region (area, city, village, side of the tracks). It doesn’t matter what the situation—your parents are going to shoot down the relationship. I think it’s just in the jeans. No, sorry. I mean genes. Ha ha. If not the genes, it’s definitely taught to people at a very early age. People tend to exist in old patterns and are not even aware of it. It’s automatic, this playing out of their family’s script.
As for your BF: Hiding things won’t help. Tell your BF right away there is going to be an issue. Waiting will only make it worse, I promise. Then it’s up to the both of you. Do you want your parents to cause problems in your relationship? Could you consider being estranged from them, or seeing them less often? Even though I think this result is unlikely, consider your options regardless. They may make things continually difficult for you and your boyfriend. Once you have thought about those implications, see what he has to say. Because he is in the dark (no pun intended) right now, he can’t help you think this over. Tell him so you can figure it out together. And when you tell him, don’t be alarmist about it. Don’t cry and scream and say, “They will never accept you!” Calmly explain the situation. Be quiet and see what he has to say. Then take it from there.
Expect the worst, but hope for the best. Your parents might not take things so bad. And what if they do? They are more likely to accept him if you stick to your guns and tell them that this is the man for you. And even though we both don’t think a Kenyan accepting an Ethiopian should have been a major challenge, your parents have dealt with the fact that their children may want to date someone different. And I think, over time, even they can get used to someone with a lot more cream in his coffee.
You can do this! Keep me posted. JC