Please Don't Stare At Me #1000forcompassion

Please Don’t Glare At Me

I kept a somewhat strained angelic smile on my face as I listened to the woman tell me all the ways my relationship might fail. She flippantly chattered on about a friend of hers who had married a man from the same culture mine comes from, how terribly hard it was to meld cultures, how difficult the family dynamic was, and how they fought through this relationship for years. And then, after telling me this sad little tale, she laughed flippantly and said “But, Bethany, as soon as I heard about your engagement I just thought, she would do that! Ha”.

“Ha” indeed. It stung. And only after some Jesus time, a talk with a close friend, and some prayer {both prayed by me and over me} was I able to get out from underneath that cloud of negativity, dark foreshadowing, and {yes, I am going there} racism.

I have written, and rewritten this post myriad times. Debated whether to spill my heart on this precariously public space. But on this day when over 1000 bloggers have committed to writing a post on compassion, I want to share my heart.

I am in an interracial relationship. Warrior Man is Polynesian, and I am Caucasian. Our cultures are about opposite as they can be in some ways, and incredibly similar in others. A mere forty-eight years ago our relationship would have been illegal in seventeen states. It was only in 1967 when an interracial couple took their case to the Supreme Court and overturned the state laws that had been persecuting them for years.

Richard and Mildred Loving. Wikipedia.
Richard, and Mildred Loving took their case to the Supreme Court, and legalized interracial marriage in all 50 states. Pic from Wikipedia.

Before I began dating Warrior Man I was blissfully untouched by the fact that there were still racists, but since I have begun my relationship I have seen a handful of ugly looks directed our way.

Even in rural Nebraska.

It has taken me awhile to figure out my response. It confused me, and angered me at first. But friends, if those ill-placed words, and pointed looks twisted my insides into a dark anger then racism will have won. And the work that Richard and Mildred Loving put in will have been lost.

So today I link arms with the 1,000 other bloggers who are typing their dreams into words in order to thread bits of compassion throughout the internet. Along with them, I write for perseverance, I write for truth, I write for compassion.

Because hearts can only be changed through the love of God. Not through the anger of me.

Because progress can only happen when people speak out, and speak up.

Because I choose to smile at the people who stare, and hold my tongue towards the people who misspeak every. Single. Time.

Because as I learned from John Piper through Christ our racial and social differences transform from barriers to blessings {paraphrased}.

Because this relationship I have been given is not something to be dissected by strangers, but cherished by the two who are daily living it.

Because it is only through interracial relationships that people will learn to lay down their swords, and bitterness.

Because compassion can start with me.

Because I have a God who will always win in the end.

Spread compassion, friends. Love you all.

Speaking out Against Racism

62 thoughts on “Please Don’t Glare At Me”

  1. Thank you for this Bethie, (I’m a friend of your mom and Aunt Anne and I remember you as a little thing back when we all ate Sunday lunch at Amigos. Wonder if your mom remembers that??) I appreciate this post. Our oldest son is in an interracial relationship. We love our Dana & her children and her parents are wonderful. I’m am both eager and cautious for her parents to visit us someday. I pray those who meet them or cross our path, will be gracious and kind and will really see them.
    Thank you again.

  2. This speaks to me 100%. I knew racism existed, having grown up in a tiny Texas town that wasn’t just devoid of black people, but was actively anti-black. However, it didn’t really affect me, obviously, being about as white as I can be. When I met Justin, and started dating him, I began to see the racism that still existed in the quiet cracks of the world. We spent a month in a tiny town in West Texas and hardly got any looks, but the ones we did get were icy and disapproving. I remember thinking, I could get very angry about this and take out my resentment on the old-fashioned prunes, but Justin reminded me, love in everything. It was a great reminder.

    1. I completely understand what you said about racism not affecting you early on. I am so sorry you experienced those dreaded angry looks. I was so utterly shocked when we began getting those looks in small town Nebraska. Call me naive, but I just did not think we had that sort of thing here. 🙁 It sounds like you have a great guy there! My hubs reminds me of the same thing.

  3. I came over to this post from your recent post and wanted to tell you how much I appreciated this. And the Lovings, who paved the way for all of our cross-cultural, interracial marriages since then. Since I’m a white girl who grew up in Asia and he’s a Mexican who grew up in California, and don’t even have the same first language, we’ve faced a handful of cross-cultural challenges in our 5 years of marriage. Never met anyone who straight out ‘disapproved’ though, and I wouldn’t expect to in this day. It’s silly, but I think it actually helps that in spite of being mostly Dutch my heritage, I’m brunette, so our cultural differences are a little less visible just because I’m a dark-haired white person. My husband and I regularly get comments that we ‘look alike’!

    1. Hey Rachel! I am so glad you haven’t run into someone who has disapproved of your marraige. It is not a good feeling! I am so glad to meet you (if even via our blogs) and compare notes with someone else in an interracial relationship! I think our differences in culture add so much depth, don’t you? I popped over to your blog, and read your post about “Angel-isms” and it made me laugh so hard. I think our husbands would get along famously. 🙂

  4. Wow, Bethany. This is so incredibly beautiful. Thank you for sharing your heart on this issue. <3 So much love to you and your amazing husband!

  5. Being in an interracial relationship can be quite difficult. Back in 2009 I was dating a guy from Bangladesh and we experienced uncomfortable situations all the time. We we’re in New York one week, we get on the train and there is a family from some middle american suburb, they blatantly stared at us with looks of disgust. She made a scoff and said we were gross. I even had friends and family members ask if I was sure I wanted to be with him. What is we had kids? They’d say if we had kids they wouldn’t look like me because his genes would take over. It really bothered me that people who I knew and loved began looking at me differently and had all these negative things to say about my relationship. In the end you just have to make sure that you are happy, because that’s al that really matters!

    1. I am sorry you had to go through all that, Alexandria! It’s sad the disgust some people can have for interracial relationships. But in the end, you are right, it is the choice of the girl and fella in the relationship that counts. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. you go girl. i LOVE interracial relationships. (is that weird?) the pastor who married my husband and i is white and married an indian woman, and not only are their daughters GORGEOUS, but he has talked numerous times about what a blessing it is to be married to a woman who has such rich cultural traditions. and about that negativity, i’m so glad you’re turning to God and other believers for support–haters gonna hate hate hate, right? 😉

  7. What a simple and beautiful post! If you don’t mind me asking, what is your man’s ethnicity? I grew up around a lot of Samoans and Tongans so I think it ‘s cool when I see other ones! I am not in an interracial relationship myself (we’re both Filipino), but as a person of color and someone who grew up around pretty much every race, I applaud you for being brave and writing about this. I also applaud you because you are a white person who understands and sees that there are still many issues in our country regarding race relations and that instead of complaining about people of color complaining about the prejudices they still experience, you have chosen instead to stand in solidarity with us. And especially in the Kingdom of God, that is so important that we have our white brothers & sisters in Christ standing with us. God created us all to be different, and since we are fallen, it is so important that we stick together especially when these kinds of issues arise. I wish you and your hubby to be all the best, and God bless you! (By the way I found you through the Peony Project :))


    1. Hey Kriselle, of course I don’t mind you asking! My husband is Tongan. 🙂 He grew up in the Kingdom of Tonga, and moved to Hawaii when he was ten years old. I am so glad to meet a Peony Sister! Welcome! Thank you for the sweet encouragement. I love meeting new friends through blogging. 🙂 Blessings to you as well!

  8. This is so beautifully written – thanks for writing about something that is oftentimes difficult to talk about (whether we don’t have the right words or are afraid of how people will receive it!). I am the “product” of an interracial marriage as my mother is Korean and my father is Caucasian. My sister and I grew up in a mixed culture and very loving household – wouldn’t change it!! Growing up, we’ve encountered shaming, name-calling, stereotyping, and just plain cruelty related to our mixes in race and culture (from both sides!!!). Through these experiences I’ve learned to cherish the uniqueness of what God has given me while also realizing the dark sinfulness of man, and the need we have for a powerful, loving God. While facing racism is probably one of the most sad and uncomfortable feelings to go through, it is encouraging to know that – like you said – God wins in the end and that He uses situations such as these to teach us, grow us, and maybe even work in the hearts of those causing the pain.

    1. It’s wonderful to hear your own unique perspective, Monica! What a wonderful family you have! I am so sorry you have had to go through so much pain. That is simply unacceptable, and I am so frustrated at the people who spread this type of hate. I am so glad you have not been embittered by this, but have let God use it in your life to grow your heart. Thank you for your poignant words. Blessings to you!

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  10. I’m so sorry you have to deal with racism Bethanie! I know it is still prevalent where I live as well and it even homes into play when adoptive parents announce they are choosing a child of a different race. It is so sad! This is not how The Father wants his children to act.

    1. Thank you, Rebekah! It is sad. The world can only change through God working in us. Loved your post about tips for a new blogger! It helped me rethink a few things. I especially liked your idea of limiting my focus to three social media outlets so I can really utilize them effectively. Thanks!

  11. This is a beautiful post. My sister is married to an African American, and they got plenty of stares and comments when they got engaged 35 years ago. It’s sad to think that people are still harboring those prejudices today, but we are making a difference. You two make such a cute couple!

    1. Thanks, Marcia! I can only imagine how tough it would have been 35 years ago. I do think our culture is becoming more accepting as time wanes on. Hope things will just keep getting better in the future!

  12. This story touched me. Keep your faith, I love God who keeps us loving and compassionate. He will take you thru all those weird looks & “Friends well meaning” advice…! I can assure you you will overcome for sure together! Its well!

  13. People can be so cruel sometimes. I think that it is awesome that you are speaking up for such a wonderful cause. It seems like you and your fiance have a wonderful, loving relationship and that is what really matters.

  14. First of all, a big hug from across the miles, Bethany. No one should have to go through what did. It’s always the ‘well-meaning’ remarks that strike the hardest.
    Thank God for His Grace that allows us to process and heal.
    May you love always be blessed! And may there come a day – sooner rather than later- when we can all be accepting of everyone!

  15. Bethany,
    I’ve been reading you for several weeks and love the bond I see between you and your Warrior Man. I’ll be honest, I never even thought about the difference in your cultures until you pointed it out. Yeah, its kinda obvious that the two of you aren’t exactly from same pond but you clearly swim so well together, who cares. Great post and keep on smiling right back at those who don’t know what they are missing out on by not knowing the awesomeness of the two of you.

  16. “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the LORD, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.” Acts 17:26-28

    I pray one day we can get past the term “race” and use the term “culture”. To over-come cultural barriers, sometimes difficult, yes, but NEVER impossible!! May God continue to bless you both and knit you two closer together as you both grow in the Lord.

  17. Bethany, A very well written post..My wife is from next door, Mexico and we have been together for 25 years. I will tell you that it is still out there…. small people with closed minds and hearts and you will cross paths now and again on your journey in this world. From waiting an extra long time to be served after being seated in a restaurant, to remarks like the person said to you, sadly it will happen..In my work I have had a few honors and awards so when I would be working in a kitchen where people did not know about my personal life, there were those that would talk badly about Mexicans in general. Then when I would show up at the awards dinner, with my lovely wife by my side, I would watch them back peddle as they remembered what they had said earlier. We find our soul mate in life and the color of their skin and their culture background is just part of the package…so don’t let what others say or do upset you…God didn’t draw a line in the sand and say, on that side of the line people are different from the people on this side of the line…and you might point out to that woman, the fact that Jesus was a Jew that spent most of his days walking in the hot sun, chances are his skin was quite dark, he didn’t speak English, and he wore a robe and sandals but he loved both Jews and Gentiles, and died for all of us….she can be thankful that he is not a racist…
    Just follow your heart and as long as God is a part of your lives, the two of you will do fine…

    1. Chef William, thank you for sharing your story with us all. You made such a valuable point about the fact that Jesus was dark skinned {my fiance and I both burst out laughing in joy at your logical). It is so funny how we as humans tend to put people into boxes, but we hate it if others put us in boxes. I think it all goes back to the Golden Rule–treat others as we want to be treated. It is a royal shame that discrimination, racism, and the like still exist–but you have encouraged me immensely with your comment. Hopefully we will get a chance to meet you and your wife at some point, Mom says you have mentioned stopping by before. 🙂 Thank you for your encouragement!

  18. People stare at me, but the thing is that I don’t notice it because I can’t see. People stare and don’t even try to hide it. They don’t feel ashamed but try their hardest to make you feel shame for something that is all about love. That is exactly what today is for…spreading compassion and empathy for all.

  19. I faced a similar situation when I married an Egyptian man. The biggest difference is that my parents had never met the man I married and my couldn’t drive for a week because she feared she would have an accident. She thought that I would never be able to leave Egypt after that. On Ihab’s side, his father was so angry that he locked everyone in the house and forbid them from attending our wedding or reception. We married in Egypt in a civil ceremony. 7 brave friends attended our reception. Ihab’s father was frightened his son was breaking a military rule to secretly marry me. So a lot of other factors affected our situation. My family did warm up to him and his parents warmed up to me in time. 🙂 I think what I’ve learned from my experience is that a common faith is the most important aspect of any relationship and that any and all cross-cultural barriers can be worked out but it takes effort on both sides. In ANY marriage, there are variables that must be worked out. 😀 I know several interracial and cross-cultural marriages that have worked. God bless you. <3

    1. What an incredibly story, Amy! Thank you so much for sharing! I am so glad that both of your families warmed up to your marriage over time. Way to go in sticking it out, and knowing what was best for you guys, and going for it despite opposition! I keep thinking about those seven friends who came to your wedding–what a special bond you must share with them, and how wonderful you did have people there to witness your decision to become man and wife! Thank you for your wisdom. Blessings to you!

  20. Bethany,
    When I saw the picture at the top of your post, the first thing I honed in on was the gaze you and Warrior shared – your eyes. The love in both of your eyes is fierce…deep…so happy. I didn’t even notice what you were wearing, what your hair looked like, let alone the colour of your skin, and that is what sickens me. The fact that people see skin colour and not love.
    You two are absolutely beautiful.
    Love each other and love LOUDLY….give them something to talk about 🙂

    1. Hey Kimberly, thank you for your sweet words. I love your writing style {both in this comment, and on your blog} so keep it up girl! I just burst out smiling when I read your words “love LOUDLY…give them something to talk about”. Ha! I think we must be kindred spirits. Thanks for brightening my day. Blessings to you!

  21. Oh, Bethany. I’ve been thinking of your post for several hours, ever since I read it on my lunch hour. I am 62 years old; I remember those days too well. I remember when my husband was stationed in the Air Force, at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas and an airman wanted to marry a woman of a different race. The airman couldn’t find a clergyman who was willing to perform the ceremony. That was in 1976. My husband and I are of the same race, but different religions (Catholic and Jewish). His family tried to break us up when we started to date in 1970. My mother’s side declared me as dead to them and I have had no contact with them since a somewhat understanding aunt died in the 1980’s. It has made me what I am today, and I admit to bitterness, even now. I should feel compassion. I don’t know if I have the courage to blog about it tonight because family members read my blog. But I will find a way. And I swore, a long time ago, if my son brought home a woman of a different religion or race, I would welcome her with open arms if she was a woman with a good heart.

    1. Alana, my heart aches for you and the struggles you and your honey have gone through to be together. What a terribly tough thing to go through as a newly engaged girl. I wish I could give you a hug. I want you to know that the sweetness and beauty of your marriage has reached me across the internet, in rural Nebraska, and has encouraged me A LOT. No matter what resistance has been in your way as you embarked on this great adventure called marriage–I want you to know that your strong marriage has touched me, and probably touched many others. I am so glad that you would welcome any woman your son brings home–you are changing your family tree by putting aside prejudices of every kind {be they religion, racial, or otherwise}. Thank you for sharing your heart, and your story with me. You are a beautiful soul, and I am grateful for you.

  22. Such a good challenge for me to hear today! I too have recently been struck with how prevalent racism still is, and it’s hard to knowhow to respond. We constantly welcome children and teens of varying races and color into our home with this new job, and I have been taken aback time and time again by the looks and even comments that come our way when we go places with them. It’s also heartbreaking how, at times, I’ve been so startled by treatment that I, as a white female, have never before experienced… and then we discuss it with the kids, and it’s so normal to them, they don’t even notice it. “Kill ’em with kindness” may not be the most compassionate thought 😉 but it’s starting to become my default reaction. Working on developing the compassionate heart behind the kind actions.

    1. You are so right, Sonia. As a white gal myself, I never would have guessed the level of racism that a lot of people {of various ethnicities} have to put up with on a day to day basis. I was pretty ignorant about it all before I started dating Saia. Just recently we were at the grocery store, and there was this little old lady tottering across the ice in the parking lot, I saw her and asked Saia to go help her. He rushed over to her, and as I watched she looked up at him, jerked her bags away, and started tottering quickly in the other direction. He came back, and was so embarrassed- she had snapped at him, and said she didn’t need any help. He told me I should have gone with him, and he would have looked less threatening. I guess she just saw a big, muscular dark dude, and was threatened. Never would have entered my mind that she might react that way. Ah well. I guess we just have to keep working on responding correctly, and hoping that little by little the world will change. Kill them with kindness. 😉

  23. Bethie,
    Change happens slowly in a culture, and you and Saia are such a gentle and generous couple, that you will change minds and hearts without saying a word. “By their fruits you will know them,” and your fruits are kindness and goodness and gentleness and joy, and of course all those things trump (a million times) whatever color your skin is. I’m so thankful that God brought you together, and I’m looking forward to watching you two build a life together!!

  24. It is hard to believe in today’s day and age that a polynesian and a caucasian being married is shocking, but I know that it must be difficult at times to endure the glares. Loved your post and your attitude. Your marriage makes the world a warmer, more colorful place.

    1. Thankfully, I think our country is becoming more and more used to interracial marriages, but there are still the awkward moments at times. Thanks for your sweet encouragement, Whitney!

  25. I grew up with an old school family in the south where interracial relationships were frowned upon. I fortunately grew out of that mentality and see no colors just beautiful broken people. If we all could find compassion to love our fellow man or woman we would not be in the divided society we live in. Beautiful post, thank you for sharing your heart and story.

    1. I am so glad you were able to outgrow those prejudices, Charles. Hopefully our society can grow less divided as more people choose compassion over condemnation. Thank you for stopping by!

  26. It’s a damn shame people can’t look past what it is in front of them from an appearance standpoint. What matters more is love, not the difference in culture or skin color.

    You are a strong woman from what I can see. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful post. I’m glad I stopped by.

  27. Thank you for speaking your heart! You are right, it is only through speaking out with compassion that we can ever expect to reduce misunderstanding and racism. Your relationship is a gift from God, and should be honored and respected. Blessings!

  28. Great post. Vulnerability is so hard, but important. It is hard to smile and show compassion when inside you feel like screaming. I hate that racism like that still exists, but I know it does. I recently had an older woman at church comment to me about another family in the church (whom we are close with) and say, “Did Jack really marry a colored woman?” I replied, “Yes, and she is fantastic, smart, loving, and hard-working.” Though I love my family dearly, sometimes the things my mom and grandma say make me cringe too with their comments. They “mean well” but it doesn’t make them right. I remember having a crush on a hispanic boy in middle school and legitimately thinking I might be doomed for hell . . . Fortunately, I realized how backwards that mentality was. Little by little we can plant seeds of compassion and change. My aunt never married her African American partner that she was with for years. Outside of not being very religious, my dad thinks it was because their father was so against inter-racial marriage. It broke my heart. Love really does conquer all. And, yes, racial differences may exist, but EVERY marriage has cultural differences. My parents’ families were extremely different, still are. That caused a lot of struggle for my parents, even though on the outside their families seemed similar: both caucasian, born and raised in Nebraska, and both had 3 siblings. Differences don’t doom a relationship, rather it is how we choose to deal with and communicate through those differences that matter. 🙂

    1. Nathana, one of the first things Dad told me about relationships that has stuck with me, is exactly what you mentioned: “every relationship has cultural differences”. We talked a lot about that in Cultural Geography last semester–that we each build a culture within our families, we are part of a culture within the towns we grow up in, we are part of another culture in the area we grow up in (the Midwest, the East Coast), and so on. It struck me that we each come from such a unique conglomeration of cultures that there are nary two alike! We all have to extend grace, and learn from each other’s own specific cultural makeup. So very sad about your aunt–I am grateful that more and more people are accepting of interracial relationships these days. It must have been a million times more difficult in the past. One book I have read that has completely solidified how I think about interracial relationships is “Bloodlines” by John Piper. That book is incredible. Definitely one I would recommend wholeheartedly. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, and support. I have learned a lot from you, and your blog these past few months!

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