By Amy Wise
I am a BIG believer in equal rights for all. I haven’t written anything about the gay marriage debate on my blog because this blog is all about interracial marriage. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I have to write about gay marriage, because this blog is about LOVE!
So here’s the thing…in light of the fact that the heterosexual divorce rate is 50%+, maybe, instead of working so hard to stop gay marriages, we should work a little harder on our marriages so we stay married. Yes?
I respect everyone’s right to believe what they believe. However, I don’t respect those beliefs when they turn from believing to hating. Gay people don’t go around bullying or bashing heterosexuals because they are straight. So…I’d say we have work to do in our houses before we start judging other houses.
Then there is religion and gay marriage. For the love of God, please don’t bring God into this. God loves everyone and I can guarantee he doesn’t approve of judging or hating. That is not Christian behavior, that is bad behavior.
If someone doesn’t believe in gay marriage, cool. Don’t be in one. If someone doesn’t believe in interracial marriage. Cool. Don’t be in that either. Just don’t take away someone else’s right to love because of differing beliefs. Wish them well, walk away, and move on.
Not long ago an AMAZING couple went all the way to the Supreme Court to fight for their marriage. They paved the way for interracial marriage to become legal. The Lovings (yes, that is their last name) never gave up and because of them my husband and I are allowed to live in love today. To see the gay marriage debate at the Supreme Court truly gives me chills. I get it. To my core. Another fight for love.
Let’s stop making this sooooo difficult! In the end it’s about being able to love the one with whom our heart loves.
Marriage is LOVE. ALL marriage. And yes, it IS that simple!
By: Amy Wise
After over 20 years of being together I take it for granted that we are…well…just us. I tend to forget that society sees us with different eyes than we do. Lately I have been reminded of this on numerous occasions. The first time was at a car show a few months back. Jamie and I went to the show with his dear friend Yolanda. Jamie and Yolanda have known each other since middle school and he has been a “big brother” to her all of her life.
Per the usual, while we were at the show we ran into various people we knew. Yolanda ran into some old friends as well. What we didn’t know was that one of those old friends ran back to Yolanda’s soon-to-be-ex-husband and told him she was with another man. Now at this point in time Yolanda and her husband had been split up and had filed for divorce months before, so regardless of the true facts, it didn’t really matter who she was with. What did matter was, this friend told her soon-to-be ex that Yolanda was at the car show with some “big dude.” Mind you, he saw the three of us together and all three of us talked, but he still assumed that Yolanda and Jamie were together because they matched. I’m still giggling today as I write this.
I’m not done. After the friend told the ex, the ex went to their pastor and told him! Yep. Amazing! THEN the pastor had a conversation with Yolanda and asked her if she was at a car show with another man. Yolanda replied, “Yes I was, AND I was also with his WIFE! Here, would you like to see a picture of them? That’s his WIFE and they are a MARRIED COUPLE! He is like my brother.” She said the pastor just stood there quietly shaking his head.
Isn’t it hilarious that this old friend automatically assumed because Yolanda and Jamie match on the outside that they must have been together? When will people remember the definition of ass-u-me?
A few weeks later, Yolanda, Jamie and I went out to dinner. A week after that, my daughter and I went out to the same restaurant. Jamie was out of town visiting his sister who was ill. We happened to have the same waitress from the week before. She said, “I remember you. You were here with your friend and her husband but you were sitting next to him.” I smiled nicely and said, “Um, he is MY husband and this is OUR daughter,” pointing at Tatiana who was across the table from me. Her eyes got wide and she said, “Oh sorry.” We all laughed and I said, “It’s okay, but that’s why I was sitting next to him.” As she walked off I looked at Tatiana and said, “REALLY?! Why is it so hard for everyone to believe that he is MY husband. I don’t get it.”
I take it all in stride at this point because it doesn’t change our love for each other, but sometimes it does get old having to constantly explain us.
We have been together for over two decades and one thing is for sure…we don’t have to match on the outside because our hearts are a perfect match on the inside!
It’s been a while since I have written about any recent racial issues our family has experienced. However, sadly, it’s not for lack of them happening in our lives, it’s simply because I have been crazy busy. I actually have a list I could write about. As each year passes I assume we are going to have fewer and fewer racist problems arise. That is my hope, but not the reality…yet.
A couple of weeks ago we had a very disheartening letter arrive in the mail. It was addressed to our daughter and shocked us all. She just so happened to check the mail that day and was excited to receive something addressed to her. That excitement quickly turned to disbelief after she opened the letter and saw what was inside. We were with two of her friends and she looked at them with wide eyes and handed the letter to me and said, “Mama, what is this?” I read it and thought it was a joke. Then I realized it was far from being funny and was actually filled with hate. We couldn’t understand why someone would send such a cruel letter to our house and to her. The hand written return address was from Las Vegas, NV and the postal stamp where the letter was mailed was from Santa Ana, CA. Someone was trying to be tricky but clearly they weren’t very bright. After I read it, I handed it to her friends and they read it and said, “Who takes the time to send something like this and who still cares about what color people are?” None of us could wrap our brains around what would possess someone to send a hateful letter to our home.
After the initial shock wore off, the worry started to set in, at least for me. The fact that someone had our address and child’s name totally freaked me out. My other concern was how this would affect her. I told her not to let it get her down and that the person that wrote the letter obviously doesn’t know her at all because she is achieving all of her goals and then some! She said she knew that but still didn’t get why someone would send something so mean.
We went on with our day and the letter hung over our heads like a small dark cloud. At the end of the day when we all got home, I shared it with her daddy. His response was, “I’m surprised it took so long for something like this to show up after all the interracial stories that have been written about our family.” To him it’s just the reality of our world, and to me it’s so sad and has to end!
After the conversation with my husband I shared the letter on Facebook. Everyone was shocked! A police officer friend messaged me and told me to call the local police because the letter is considered hate mail. So I did. The officer came out and said that it could have been from a stranger because of all the articles about our family or it could have been from a bully that was jealous or had issues with our daughter. Either way, hate is hate. He told us to save the letter and to call them if we receive anything else. We are all hoping this was a one time incident.
The irony is, when anything racial happens in our lives it has the EXACT opposite affect that the racist wants it to have. After 20 years of dealing with things like this, our family just gets stronger and stronger. That same night, Tatiana was going to spend the night at her cousin’s house and as she walked out the door she sarcastically said, “Okay, I’m leaving now and I’m going out to achieve nothing in life!” We all just laughed! I was so happy to see she was taking it all in stride and was totally confident in herself and all that she is achieving. Smiles all around!
In the end I feel sorry for someone who has so much hate inside they feel the need to send it through the mail in an anonymous letter. The energy it took to write the letter, think about the fake address and send it, all based on hate….what a horrible way to live. I don’t wish that on anyone.
We are now MORE determined than ever to live in love and to continue to follow our dreams! I forgive the hate and I hope the letter writer is able to let it go and find love and happiness in their life…sooner than later. That is my dream for them.
By: Amy Wise
A report just came out from the PEW Research Center on Interracial Marriage. Much of the media reported on the study. Our family was part of the story in USA Today and the L.A. Times.
After being together for 20 years and married for 19, we don’t think of each other as an interracial couple…we are a couple.
In the end, we are not made up of colors, we are just us.♥ I’m thankful and honored that our family is part of the story bringing about awareness and change. It is imperative to open minds so one day this will no longer need to be a story.
Check out some of the articles about the rise of interracial marriage with our family featured:
Our family picture representing the USA Today article about the PEW report. (2/16/2012)
Article in L.A. Times about the PEW report with a brief interview from me. (2/16/2012)
Our family featured in USA Today article about the rise of interracial marriage. (11/8/2011)
By: Amy Wise
15 years ago Jamie and I made a decision that would change our lives forever. We moved from the city of San Diego to the burbs of San Diego. It was time for us to go from home renters to homeowners. We did our research, looked for nice neighborhoods with good schools and lots of parks and outdoor areas. We found a brand new community in the Southbay and decided to check it out. Once we rounded the corner into this beautiful new neighborhood, I immediately felt this was going to be our home. Jamie however wasn’t so sure. After looking at many houses on various streets we came across the house. The minute we walked through the front door I just knew this was the house where Tatiana would grow up. We looked from room to room and then went to the backyard to check out the possibilities of what was then a blank slate.
Suddenly a head popped up over the fence and said, “Are you two buying this house?” I swear it was a scene out of the old TV show, Home Improvement. It was as if Mr. Wilson lived next door! Shortly thereafter we found out it wasn’t Mr. Wilson after all, it was Mr. Jim. Mr. Jim and his wife Miss Corinne (as we affectionately call them) would soon become our new neighbors because we ended up buying the house! It was 1997 and Tatiana was 2 years old.
Mr. Jim and Jamie became fast friends. At the time Jim was in his 70′s and Jamie was in his 30′s. They were quite the pair. They gave each other grief like father and son and very quickly considered each other just that. It was an unlikely pairing of two of the most opposite people on the planet…but it worked. Kind of like us!
One of the things the two of them always joked about was Jim’s ruby ring. Jamie always called it his pimp ring. Jim always said he was going to give it to Jamie when he died. It was in jest but it always freaked me out when they talked about it. I could go on and on about the bantering back and forth that Mr. Jim and Jamie did over the years. It was a strange love, but it was theirs.
Sadly, we lost Mr. Jim quite a few years ago and that was truly one of the saddest days we can remember. We were all devastated but Jamie was heartbroken. It was as if he had lost his own dad.
Jim’s relatives flew in from New Orleans for the memorial service and as we were all sitting in Miss Corinne’s dining room she came downstairs with a box. She handed it to Jamie and told him that Jim thought of him as a son and always wanted him to have his ring. There was not a dry eye in the house. Jamie now wears Mr. Jim’s ring every single day. If it’s not on his finger because of work, it’s around his neck on a chain…always close to his heart.
Little did we know, 15 long years ago, that not only would we raise Tatiana in our wonderful home, but we would also have a built-in California family right next door. Mr. Jim is now our angel in heaven and Miss Corinne is our angel on earth, otherwise known as our Cali Mom. How lucky are we?!
By: Amy Wise
Us in Sunriver, Oregon
Tatiana and Me in Sunriver, OR
Happy New Year everyone! As you can see I took a little break from writing over the holidays. The fam and I took a vacation and spent some much needed time away in Sunriver, Oregon with 27 of my relatives. Every four years we ALL meet in Sunriver for a fun-filled Christmas celebration. Our group included my parents, aunts, uncles, brother, sister, nieces, nephews, cousins, children, girlfriends, and boyfriends! We had four lovely cabins on the same street which enabled us to go back and forth for meals, movies, games, and fun! My parents’ cabin even had a Christmas tree, so of course we had Christmas dinner there for the full holiday effect.
I have been going to Sunriver with my family since I was in 4th grade. Without doing the math, let’s just say that’s a VERY long time! I love that I’m now sharing a piece of my childhood with Jamie and Tatiana. Besides going every four years with everyone for Christmas, we try and go off and on with my parents and siblings in the summer or fall just for fun.
This particular visit had an unusual twist to the activities. “Unusual” is an understatement. My Uncle Joey, who I just love, brought his girlfriend with him this year. They make a perfect couple, as they are both a bit eccentric. I LOVE that about them because I can totally relate! They met in the theater in their small town in Washington. Joey was performing and Carol was part of the “crew”. Being the creative people that they are you never know what you are going to get. This time what we got was…drum roll please….a pirate play! Yes, that’s right: a pirate play.
Carol wrote a play five years ago and thought it would be fun if the family could actually act it out together with costumes and all! She brought two suitcases full of amazing costumes and accessories, along with scripts for everyone. She went around to each of us and asked who wanted to participate in the play and who wanted to be audience members. I had EVERY intention of being an audience member until she looked at me and said, “I’m counting on you to participate.” Well, for some reason I just couldn’t say no! I think it was the look in her eyes. Jamie, on the other hand, had no problem saying no! He thought it was HILARIOUS that we were actually doing a pirate play! His exact words: “white people” (followed by lots of laughter)!
Me…as Bella the Fortune Teller in the Pirate Play
Uncle Joey and Girlfriend Carol
Needless to say we ALL got a kick out of the play and had a blast doing it. The audience members couldn’t believe what they were seeing, and all of us will probably talk about this particular Christmas festivity for years to come! Jamie is still cracking up to this day.
Next year we are spending the holidays with Jamie’s family and I can guarantee there will not be any pirate plays! Hmmm…maybe I should suggest it?
By: Amy Wise
Flashback to Thanksgiving 1993…Jamie and I had been husband and wife for just a few months and we were going to our first “married Thanksgiving” at his sister’s house. His sister asked me to bring a dish to share with everyone and I was so excited to be contributing to the Thanksgiving dinner. I was a little nervous because it was our first holiday as a married couple with his family. I decided to bring the staple dish that I had grown up with…green bean casserole with french onions on top. You all know it, you all love it, you’ve all had it…right?
Well, we got to his sister’s house and I proudly walked in with my green bean casserole. I set it on the table, took off the foil, and waited for everyone to dig in. After we said a prayer everyone started to dish up all their food from the table…everything but my casserole that is. So I thought, hmm, why is nobody eating my green bean casserole? This is a favorite at my house…what’s up? I was starting to get a little hurt as everyone dished up and walked right by my beans. Whatever…I proudly filled my plate and ate those beans up! However, I was literally the only one! Apparently black folk don’t like green bean casserole.
The funny thing is after that holiday meal, I was given the task of bringing the rolls and the soda going forward. Yes, you heard me…rolls and soda…pretty impossible to screw up right? My green bean casserole has been the holiday funny ever since. Good thing I have a good sense of humor! At first it really did hurt my feelings, but now I can actually look back and laugh. This was one more thing to adjust to in a mixed marriage….getting used to each other’s traditions big and small. As time went on I graduated to making complete meals for Jamie’s family…um, minus the green bean casserole!
The hilarity continued this year when my sister-in-law Niki called to let me know that the green bean casserole commercials had started and she couldn’t wait to make it. I laughed! It truly is the running joke even after all these years. By the way, a little aside, Niki is white like me. The silliness continued on Thanksgiving day while talking to my mom. She said, while giggling, ”Be sure to tell Jamie that Aunt Sal is cooking green bean casserole today.” Then minutes after that phone call, Jamie’s longtime friend Calvin, otherwise known as “T”, called to wish us a happy Thanksgiving. Jamie and T were comparing menus and T listed green bean casserole as one of the dishes he and his wife were making for dinner. Jamie quickly said, “Oh hell no!” and just started laughing! He then proceeded to share the infamous green bean casserole story with T. Another little funny, T just so happens to be black and his wife is white. Do you see a pattern here? I have yet to talk to an all black family that serves the infamous casserole.
Through the years the green bean casserole jokes have become another fun tradition that we all share as we continue to embrace the differences between our two very opposite families. Who knew that each year we would literally have comedy in a casserole!? It’s a perfect analogy for us.
By: Amy Wise
Last week our family had the honor of being featured in USA Today. I was interviewed for the piece and then a photographer came out and did a photo shoot of our family. We had such a great time with the photographer; he actually ended up joining us for a little dinner after we were done taking pictures. The article came out a couple of weeks after the interview and it was such a thrill to have our family be the face of interracial marriage in USA Today. It truly touched me because so much of my writing is about this very subject.
I have been writing about interracial marriage for years now and the one thing that I have never had to deal with when it comes to writing about our family, whether on my blog or on guest sites, are racist comments. Even if there has been a difference of opinion, the comments have always been very respectful. When the article came out in USA Today I was saddened to see so many racist and hateful comments in the comment section. Thankfully there were many more positive comments than negative ones, but it saddened me nonetheless. Because USA Today reaches so many people I should not have been surprised, but I was. I’m not going to go into specifics about what was said and luckily the paper pulled the really horrible comments, but it still shocks me to see how closed-minded and ignorant people can be when it comes to race in America in 2011. I actually had to stop reading the comments because they made my stomach turn. They also made me realize how much work we still need to do when it comes to educating people about race and interracial relationships.
The one thing that I want people who don’t seem to understand or approve of our family to know, is that we are truly no different than any other family out there today. I don’t wake up in the morning and look at my husband and think, “I’m so in love with my black husband“; he’s just my husband. I don’t look at my daughter and think, “My biracial daughter is my heart and soul”; she’s just my daughter. Yes my husband is black, yes I’m white, and yes our daughter is biracial…those are the facts, but the truth of the matter is, we are three people who make up a family filled with love. It really is that simple. I didn’t steal a black man from the hood, Jamie didn’t set out to meet a white woman, and we didn’t say let’s have a mixed child. We married each other because we fell in love and we had a child because we wanted a family. Color has never had anything to do with our choices when it comes to our relationship and family. Color only comes into play when society continues to make an issue of it. We are about love and love only. Isn’t that why anyone gets married and starts a family?
I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Tatiana gets the best of both worlds. We embrace my culture and we embrace Jamie’s culture. She gets double the fun, double the food, double the history, double everything! Talk about an open mind. America is all about people who originally came from some place else. Our country is really just one big melting pot of the world, so trying to be around one race and one race only is quite unrealistic. I feel sorry for people who aren’t open to other races, cultures, and backgrounds. They are truly missing out on so many wonderful experiences. It’s quite sad.
So in the end, to those who had such negative things to say about our family: all I can say is, my heart breaks for the hate that you carry. I hope that you can one day realize we are just a family that happens to have multiple shades of skin colors and lots and LOTS of LOVE!
Thank you USA Today for such a wonderful experience!
By: Amy Wise
It’s all about college tours at the Wise house right now. We just returned from San Francisco State University, which is Tatiana’s first choice for college. She chose SFSU for many reasons, the first being their dance program which is her major, the second because she loves the city, and the third because of the culture and diversity that SFSU offers.
Prior to going to San Fran we visited a couple of other campuses. One of the recent campus tours we went on was a total bust, and originally it was her second choice! From the very first moment we drove into the parking lot Tatiana said, “I’m not feeling this campus at all.” The entire day went that way. It was just a vibe that she had, or actually lack thereof. Then we went to SFSU and her reaction was the polar opposite! Tatiana stepped onto campus and instantaneously smiled from ear to ear. She was home. Jamie even said, “I can totally see you going to school and living here. This is you.” At this point we had only been there for, oh, about five minutes! It was like the campus had a heartbeat of its own. It was full of life, color, music, laughter, beautiful architecture, people from all over and so much more! Jamie and I were ready to go back in time and attend school with her. She would be horrified and would quickly veto us, but it sure sounded like a good idea, at least to us!
One of the things that is not only important to Tatiana but important to us as parents of a mixed race child, is that she goes to a university that is filled with diversity. To say that SFSU is diverse would be an understatement. It lives and breathes diversity! The students that attend SFSU are from every race and religion you can imagine. We got a very clear picture of that when we walked to the heart of the campus which is called Malcom X Plaza. The plaza is filled with music and festivities and also houses the Cesar Chavez Student Center. The more we walked and the more we saw, the more we fell in love with the campus and all it had to offer. Notice I keep saying we. We truly fell in love with SFSU right along with her and for her. It is such an exciting time in her life! The diversity clincher was when we were on the tour and the guide told us about the College of Ethnic Studies. This is the only program of its kind in the nation and SFSU offers it. Hello diversity!
Needless to say by the time we were done with the tour and our day spent on campus, Tatiana was ready to move in. Instead she did the next best thing. She applied. The applications for Fall 2012 opened up the following day, so she jumped online, filled out the application, went over it with a fine tooth comb and hit submit! While she was filling out her info, I had a smile from ear to ear, not only because I was so excited for her, but also because I saw that she was able to choose two or more races/ethnicities as her race on the application. I was thrilled! Back in the day when Tat was entering kindergarten I had to choose one race and one race only. I will never forget how that made me feel. Now, not only was there an option for two or more races, the options for the gender section are male, female, transgender, or non-gender specific. How frickin’ cool is that!? I had never seen that on any application before…it tripped me out at first. My how times have changed. I love it! Equality all the way around.
That, my friends, is progress.
Just as it should be.
By: Amy Wise
It’s official…I’ve been with Jamie so long I’m now an “honorary black person”! I’m not making this stuff up. We were in a meeting the other day with a room full of people and the meeting was not going well. One of the people said, in a joking manner, “It’s cause we’re black, that’s why this isn’t working out.” Everyone laughed and then I looked at the person that said that, tilted my head, pointed at myself, and said, “Um excuse me…helloooo..,white person in the room.” He looked at me and said, “Whatever, you’re not white, you’re an honorary black person.” I was the only white person in the room, but apparently not really, because according to him I’m an “honorary black person”! Who knew!?
Hmm…what does it take to get that title? Is it because everyone is so used to me being with Jamie? Is it because it’s easier to make the jokes if I’m the honorary black person instead of the white person? It’s a curious thing this distinction, or maybe I should look at it as lack thereof. No distinction is what we all want! This is a good thing.
Back in the day when Jamie and I first got together I was the “devil” white woman…no, seriously, that’s what I was called by some, so it seems I have come a VERY long way now that I’m the “honorary black person.” I should celebrate this milestone…with wine perhaps!
All joking aside, I think what it comes down to is, I’m comfortable no matter who I’m with or what setting I’m in. I try and “make friends” no matter where I go because I just love people. So whether I’m in a room full of black people, white people or purple people, it’s all good, all the time. That’s my hope for everyone.
I still feel like I should get a certificate or something:
Amy Wise – Honorary Black Person. It kind of has a ring to it don’t ya think?
Amy Wise is a Writer in San Diego.
You can read more on www.themanyshadesoflove.blogspot.com