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Parents Pass the Bias Along to Their Kids

JUNE 13, 2013

Let’s blame it on the parents. Love is the last area where even educated and progressive parents can still openly teach prejudice at home – which is the only reason interracial marriage is still scandalous.

Few peers of any recent generation give much thought to friends dating outside of their race. However, far too many Americans who dare to love someone of a different racial or cultural background find they will still have to face something unpleasant – ranging from disappointment to being disowned – from those people they loved first, their mothers and fathers.

This includes even a father from a cosmopolitan American city, with a postgraduate degree, who loves and respects someone of a different race at work and might even invite someone of a varying skin tone or eye shape to Thanksgiving dinner but privately will tell his 10-, 20- or even 40-year-old son, “but you can’t marry one of them.”

Which is just what my husband’s father told him when he explained his intentions with me. My husband was born in South Korea, and his parents are educated, well-traveled, Asian professionals who have been American citizens for over 30 years. Yet, straying outside of his race for love was always forbidden for him.

This was problematic, because I am your standard-issue white girl of European descent. Which does not mean that my Caucasian parents were any more accepting of whom their children loved. My family’s prejudices around marriage were just reserved for the more familiar American race war of calling black-white relationships “wrong” or “unfair to the children.”

My husband and I married anyway, with the hard-won support of all our parents when the day finally came. Seven years later we have three biracial children who are beloved by their grandparents, as am I. Because once we as a couple met the multiracial scandal with a united front, the idea of me being “too different” eventually faded away. This leads me to believe that interracial prejudice can be eradicated in one more generation – if today’s parents stop teaching it to our little ones, in subtle or unsubtle ways.

Are you ready for the challenge, moms and dads?

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  1. bill thomas on Thursday 11, 2013

    You make an interesting point Ms Farr, about the state of prejudice in people’s homes these days. if George Zimmerman was told to love everyone the same would Trayvon Martin be dead today?

  2. amanda P on Thursday 11, 2013

    I’m a big fan of your book Diane, being Vietnamese and my husband being white. Thank you for talking about this and helping to change the tide of the “not so secret” prejudices in America, outside of black and white relationships. Amanda

  3. Diane Farr on Thursday 11, 2013

    I’m nervous to comment on Zimmerman, beyond the fact that the law is what allowed Zimmerman to carry that gun into a series of bad choices and that my heart breaks for both Trayvon’s mother’s and the mother’s of all sons today. Because we all are left breathless at the thought of someone hunting down our children. But my heart is more nervous for the mother’s of boys of color. And will remain so until we fix the gun laws.

  4. Diane Farr on Thursday 11, 2013

    keep the faith Amanda! df