I had the privilege of being at a wedding this last weekend. It was a wedding toward a marriage of a young white man and a young lady who is racially mixed. I had the opportunity to say something to them at the wedding rehearsal as I felt I should speak to the issue of their impending inter-racial marriage.
Now it may be in this “post-racial” society that everyone thought I shouldn’t have brought it up. Certainly they won’t have to put up with many of the things such couples put up with years and years ago. For their sake, and for the peace of our society I certainly hope not.
Yet even as I spoke I realized that one of the things that has happened to my wife and I over the years has actually turned out to be something in which I take pride. One of the little irritations of being married inter-racially is to be at a counter of a store, a hotel, the airlines, etc and to be standing together, (and here I speak of the marriage distance together, that physical proximity that gives a pretty strong clue of a relationship) and to hear the inevitable question.
It goes something like this, after serving one or the other of us first, “And may I help you sir,” or “May I help you maam?” Now I realize of course that this sometimes happens to every married couple as the clerk or server may not realize you are actually standing together. For those of us in these mixed relationships it happens all the time.
There are of course those times when people have known we were together and my wife has been openly flirted with, this especially in inner city neighborhoods when we were young. I mean, I’m standing right there, or walking in lock step with her. Usually that was a typical flirtation of fun, with bantering and laughter. I mean, I couldn’t fight everybody all the time.
There have been other annoyances, some more threatening. The stares we used to get on entering a place of business, a rude remark here or there when you could almost feel the animosity in the air. There are lots of prejudices people used to have about such couples (as us) while actually knowing nothing about us. We used to really get it in high school going to school on a bus filled with guys wanting to become Black Muslims.
Without a doubt our married life has been filled with blessing, the support of friends and family, the same respect and kindness shown to other married folks. The warnings and suspicions of disaster for our children have not come to pass, as far as I can see, but rather a great pride in our family, our faith, and love.
I get a kick out of telling people how many years we have been married when they ask, as that seems to be a cause of national significance these days (43 years at this writing). But back to my point, and that is what I told this newly wedded couple the other night. When people have asked, incessantly, “may I help you?” assuming we were seperate customers or individuals one of us or both always say, “we’re together!” Or, my wife might say, “he’s with me!” Yes, I am!
So enjoy it and take pride in it, all your life long. It is what marriage means, so don’t be weary of the affirmation. “We’re together!” So blessed that this be so, and so proud to say it.