December 20, 2008

It's all relative

Tonight is the wedding reception for Graceful and Double Name. I mentioned them a while ago when I got their e-vite and thought they'd eloped. They hadn't. In fact, they just got married this past Wednesday by a justice of the peace. Graceful's sister was the witness.

It hasn't been an easy journey. Graceful is Chinese and Double Name barely has a family. His mom was white, his father a light-skinned 'black' man. He has hazel eyes, blondish hair and tan skin. Her parents saw a black man. They gave her statistics about black men being 7 times more likely to leave their wives. Relative after relative called her to challenge her logic, question her thinking and batter her towards changing her mind. She responded as graciously as she could, but was clearly overwhelmed.

A couple weeks ago, her parents went to see a Christian Counselor. They brought the letter they'd written to Graceful. All their logic in one tidy package. The counselor took them to task and told them what they needed to do in order to maintain a relationship with their daughter. They actually listened! In a surprising turn of events, they asked if they could host the wedding reception. Obviously, Double Name wasn't that excited about the idea. These people had mostly either ignored him completely or grilled him within an inch of his brain.

A week ago, Double Name picked me up at the train station so we could grab Graceful and go down to the climbing gym. As we drove, I asked him how it was going. He's had to be the strong, steady one for Graceful; I think he appreciated a place to vent.

I commiserated, "Look, there's nothing you can do in the short term to make them like you. It will just take time. If you can bring yourself to do it, accepting the invitation to do the party at their house would be huge. Sure, it won't feel as much like your own gala, but it's an important bridge to build."

He sucked it up and we'll be driving down there tonight.

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This morning, I was climbing with our third partner, Petite Slovakian. She was asking why Graceful's parents didn't like Double Name. She'd met him the previous week. I explained, "Even for me, it was a three year campaign for my husband's parents to consider our marriage. Double Name has it even harder since he's African-American."

Petite Slovakian looked confused, "He's African American?"

She couldn't tell by looking at him. Yet it's the main thing Graceful's parents see.

1 comment:

OTR sister said...

I remember reading an article by James Baldwin (famous African-American essayist and author) saying that our cultural identity is half of how we see ourselves and half of how others see us.

I hope the reception goes well.