Love beyond borders is still at its infancy.
The strong inter-racial setting today seems to have changed the premise of romantic conventions being confined to one’s own race. However, it is naïve to assume so because love beyond racial borders is still at its premature stage.
Committed to an inter-racial relationship myself, I found that our communities have not yet fully embraced inter-racial relationships. Here are some of the challenges with inter-racial love:
1. Cultural differences
While these practices are just the surface, culture affects how conservative or liberal we are. One may feel uncomfortable talking about taboo topics like nightlife and sex, but another can openly share their thoughts. As couples tend to spend a lot of time together, parents fear that their children will be influenced by their partner’s foreign culture.
2. Racial discrimination
Subtle and unspoken, racial discrimination still exists among families who disapprove of such romance.
I was exasperated when my Chinese friend shared how her parents warned that she would “face poverty and many family problems” if she got hitched to her Malay boyfriend. Ah, stereotypes again.
Racial integration goes beyond mere tolerance or acceptance of another race. Like the late director Yasmin Ahmad once said, let us be colour blind (to skin colour) and do away with the negative generalisations.
Imagine every Chinese New Year, your ah ma has to specially order a Halal meal for your Muslim girlfriend on top of the bak kut teh she has prepared. Or maybe every Hari Raya, your nenek will raise eyebrows at your vegetarian boyfriend who cringes at the beef rendang. Sounds troublesome?
4. Family dynamics
Traditional parents are concerned if their children will adopt a foreign name if their relationship results in marriage. They also fear that their grandchildren will not adopt their family name or stay rooted to their culture.
Having an interfaith understanding is the first challenge, but the next stage is sharing a common faith. The biggest question then is: which religion?
In a nutshell, inter-racial relationships demand dedication and compromise from both parties. While there are indeed many obstacles to overcome, I feel that it is not wrong to love an individual who differs by a few shades of skin tone, and one should not be pressured to separate just because of race.
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