My husband and I are both New Zealanders, but he is Maori and I am Caucasian, or better known to any New Zealander as a “Pakeha,” the same word the early Maori’s gave to the pink-skinned pigs. No insult was intended, just a word to describe the first white people that landed on the shores of New Zealand.
Being part of an interracial marriage is what my husband would tag as, “That’s interesting!” Some days it is fantastic and some days it is sad. Some days we are left shaking our heads at our own respective race and other days we are left hanging our heads in shame for them.
Over the twenty years that we have known each other and been together, we have seen racial discrimination from all sides, and at really bad times, from within our own relationship.
I have watched from afar when my husband has walked into an open-plan retail shop, an attendant approach him, remain within his vicinity, obviously watching him as though ensuring he would not shoplift. I have then seen the same attendant disappear the moment that I walk in and interlink arms with my husband, essentially saying, “Oh, that’s okay, you’re with a white person,” and yet it could be me who is the potential shoplifter!
Both of us have also seen racial discrimination from the Polynesian side against me, generally when I have gone to a Polynesian-majority function and been left on the outer. However, we have seen each other openly being talked to and accepted at one place and yet the other being openly ignored.
I have to confess that in all these years, I still do not understand the reasons behind racial discrimination. Whether you are white-skinned amongst dark-skinned or dark-skinned amongst white-skinned, or whether you are oriental amongst white- or dark-skinned, or vice versa, it seems that if you are a minority and new into a majority, you will always have others look at you and question your very identity, just because of your outer shading.
Being in an interracial marriage can either make you stronger as a person and as a couple, or can be damaging to both your marriage and your identity. Marriage is “interesting” enough, without adding the racial dimension to it. Would I have married my husband if I knew then what I now know can occur? Absolutely, but I also believe that there we would have had better grounded conversations between us prior to our marriage regarding where we stood on particular issues. However, as my husband and I have got older and wiser, we have given each other greater respect and more understanding toward our respective races, ceasing to fight against the fundamental ways and methods of our own race and therefore ceasing to fight with each other about these issues.
I am so proud to have married my husband and I am proud to carry his Maori name. I am also proud of my husband for battling through in a career field where so few of his race have thrown their hands up to, that of the multi-media industry. Time and time again I have seen or heard people meet my husband, discover what he does and treat him with patronizing distain, until they eventually find out that he does know what he is talking about and what he is doing!
Lastly, but far from least, I am very proud to raise our stunningly handsome and beautiful mixed-race children. I know this might be a generalization, but it is sometimes almost like God looked down on what to others might appear to be the fruit of foolishness, and decided to bless every mixed-race child with a beauty that is undeniable, and at the same time, a beauty which is astounding to their own parents!