A Journey In Black and Indian Love

A Peek inside the marriage of an African American woman and her East Indian spouse

Finally!! A guest post from Hubby May 17, 2009

 

After threats to withhold his favorite wings and fries, a few emotional blackmail attempts and a few stares, I finally got hubby to write a guest post. What follows is what my act of convincing produced.  It’s his random thought process about interracial marriages:

Inter-racial marriage/Dating………
Why is there a big talk about inter-racial marriage and Indians?Does anyone really know what type of racial divide we have in India? It’s not the color of your skin. It’s the religion and the caste.Now you might think it is only in hindu community that caste and religion matter so much but .it is not. It is wide in the Christian and the muslim community too.
You can be dark skinned and still be from the higher caste. You can be fair and be from the lower community. End of the day, it is your religion and caste and you are expected to stand by it. Now in India you’d even face problems when you generally date or marry for the same religion but a different caste.
 Marriage in the Indian community is essentially between families not just the two people. Marriages are generally arranged. Even when it is a love marriage within the same religion its still mostly arranged.  Family elders meet and get to know of one another and then proceed.  Now normally anyone would say it is a love marriage but unfortunately it is  still arranged.
Now about dowry.  Does anyone know really what that means.It is life time maintenance money to the husband to look after their daughter.
Fortunately I was born into a progressive thinking family who did think marriage is between 2 people not the family.  Basically I never had problems with my decision. I belong to a higher caste and I am proud of it. But i was never taught in my home that there are two types of segregation in human society. I had friends from all strata of the society. I am a Hindu who eats beef,–but that does not mean my family eats it. I was schooled in a catholic convent. I am happy with whom I am married to.
I dont think marrying from another culture like me would be a norm with all the Indians you all come across.Every area in India has their own do’s and dont’s. If you know what to look for then maybe you can find someone to treasure. It’s actually a complicated situation.
As far as someone who wants to go ahead with this sort of releationship, let me tell you that there are some areas and communities that are more tolerant and understanding than some others. Best of luck for all who’s still searching.
  
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10 Responses to “Finally!! A guest post from Hubby”

  1. Anony Missy Says:

    Well done M!
    I’m glad you blogged about this topic, it brought to the surface a few questions that I’ve had about your culture and your country.

    You said:

    Does anyone really know what type of racial divide we have in India? It’s not the color of your skin. It’s the religion and the caste.
    …You can be dark skinned and still be from the higher caste. You can be fair and be from the lower community.

    I’m torn, though I get the arranged marriage part. As an avid Bollywood fan , the idea has become instilled in my mind that caste status and dark skin are diametrically opposed.
    The only times I’ve seen the well off and less well off interact in those flicks was during festivals such as Diwali, perfect opportunity to share food and drinks as a way or repentance (IMO).

    Besides a few Hindi expressions,I’ve picked up on a very subliminal message in Bollywood .
    The hired help is always that dark skinned , fearful, goofy,obedient and entertaining guy who whorships the patriarch ,but still never gets to marry the pale daughter.
    Maybe I’m reading too much into this. Please feel free to offer your expertise.

    ALERT!!
    This may turn into a novel, but I want to comment on a program I watched,in which 3 Indian families were profiled.

    First one, well to do by Indian standards.The head of the house gave a tour and made sure to let us know that In India you can have as much help as you need, they had one lady to mop the floor, one to prepare meals and onef or I can’t remember…
    ‘ For cheap’ she stated in front of those hard working ladies.
    When asked about hopes and aspirations in life, the answer was to fructify their existing businesses.

    Second family was muslim , about 2 shades darker,and living in a very dusty area, girls went to school, the mother just wanted running water in the house.

    The third family, I don’t even know where to start it was awful.
    There would probably be a picture of them next to the word ”untouchable”.
    They lived in a hutt in a very remote area , all had the darkest skin that, in a way they had internalized as a curse. (their words not mine)
    The wife recalled how when her husband had to stay home with their first newborn baby, he wouldn’t touch his own child, and massaged some hot pepper or something on the baby’s skin,( to exorcise) and let it cry until the mother came home…
    So…sad.
    What did the wife wish for? That her daughters would marry and live in a house with real walls and doors.

    I’m writing all this to say that this is some of the blunt images in media. What is it really like?
    The castes are almost always homogeneous in skin tones.
    Something I’ve also ”witnessed” while watching a real award ceremony in Mumbai, where security staff looked very distinct from the SRK and other famous folks.

    I apologize for the tirade I’m somewhat passionate about this issue.

  2. blindianlove Says:

    Anon Missy,
    This is Blindian and I’m basically playing M’s typist since he refuses to come near the blog for a while. LOL. Apparently having to post was traumatic for him. Poor baby..lol.

    He said the only thing he can tell you to keep in mind that what you see on television and in movies is basically stereotypes much like the way African Americans, Hispanics etc and other minorities that are negatively portrayed here (his analogy not mine). He said just because its in movies or on television award shows etc doesn’t mean that’s how most of India works.

    Until I read your post and heard his response, I had never given this much thought. However, from the neutral standpoint you are both correct. I can see how you would draw the conclusions you do related to race and caste. However, having lived in India and traveled there often, I also realize that what Manoj is saying is true. At some of the bed and breakfasts we would stay at, I remember seeing lighter hired help. However, I never thought anything was different about it until I read what you wrote.

    Media is a fickle thing sometimes and often It’s like the man behind the velvet curtain ideology is what works best for the industry exects instead of what the reality is. Think about it… even here the “reality” we see on the very popular reality shows is sometimes staged for ratings.

    M and I constantly have to stay in sync with one another when he’s watching TV or movies with African Americans as characters because he’ll sometimes feed into the very things that so ill represent my cultural community. It’s not intentional. He just doesn’t know enough yet to know better. Thankfully he will at least now ask me before assuming something he sees can be connected with all blacks.

    But I digress.. I wish the situation of culture, skin tone and caste were simply explained..but thankfully dialogues like this can open up people’s minds.

    Btw, the television show you watched with the three families was horrible. I can only imagine what it was like watching it.

  3. Anony Missy Says:

    Thanks for replying.

    O.K, reality tv is staged as much as not every Indian family lives in a modern day castle where colorful choreography abound . LOL

    Awaiting a new blog post from the ultimate source!

  4. Amita C. Says:

    Hello!
    I love your blog, and I think there need to be more blogs like this, breaking down the barriers that we have between people of different races and ethnicities all over the world. I am a 2nd generation Indian-American woman who has dated black men, and I am happy to say that my mom did accept my ex. And then we broke up 😦 Actually, it wasn’t a sad thing or a bad thing, we had changed and grown apart.
    I would like to make a comment about the Indian “race and color” issue from the perspective of someone who has never lived in India, but has frequently visited. My family’s from West Bengal, and color is a CONSTANT topic of conversation among every Indian person, family or not, that I have ever met, with the exception of my cousins and siblings, who all grew up here. My parent’s generation does so less around us simply because my generation of siblings and cousins are so against being color-conscious, but when they’re around their family in India, it’s not even a conscious thing to talk about it, they’re so used to it. But I can tell you this-although the word caste does come up every once in a while, and obviously it is more important to those at the top, as in any power struggle, caste is beginning to disappear in Indian culture. It’s not gone, by any means, but even in my conservative family, caste is less and less important. But color is always there. Pale=beautiful. I know of very attractive but pale Indian women AND men who are considered the most beautiful creature by a vast majority of my family members over there, but no one pays attention to their features, it’s ALL about their color. I’ve met only a handful of Indians who say this is not the case among their family and friends. I have cousins who have been poorly treated by members of my own family because they are so dark, and obviously this has nothing to do with religion or caste. Originally, discrimination based on a person’s color may have been caused by the connection to caste, but like you said, there are pale and dark Indian people of all castes today. I am very passionate about this topic and have done some research on it, and if you google it, you will find all kinds of information, blogs and forums, and you will see that most of the information points to color, as separate and distinct from religion and caste, as being an issue still today, in 2009, in Indian culture. I would like to believe times are changing, and that people are becoming more open-minded, but India has historically had issues with caste, just like it has had issues with gender. And guess what? Indian women don’t even have a caste. We are what our fathers are, then what our husbands are. That type of mentality, that view of women may be 1 reason so many of us marry/date outside of our race.

    • blindianlove Says:

      Amita,
      Thank you for your comments. It’s awesome to hear your perspective as a 2nd generation Indian American. I wish I could say your comments are the exception to the rule but they aren’t. You are correct that discussion of skin tone and race are so ingrained in daily conversation there. What I am grateful for is that younger people of Indian descent are beginning to see beyond all of the rhetoric. Again, thanks so much for your perspective! We’d love to hear more.

  5. Journee Says:

    Awwww!! You’re such a beautiful family! = )

  6. Gobind Singh Says:

    This was a well written post. Skin color has never had anything to do with caste and I found it odd that the notion even came up in the Western world. Caste is and has always been profession based….with sweepers and tanners towards the bottom and priests, kings, etc. at the top.

  7. Mz.Diva 4673 Says:

    Hi,I recently started reading your blog and I’m enjoying so far. I’m trying to get an understanding on Indians and their cultures.I recently became interested in an Indian guy and am looking for some insight to move farther.Is it possible to contact you outside this blog,so I may be openly expressive and get your opinions? Please?
    Thanks
    Ms.Diva


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