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Monday, Sep. 16, 2013

The best student comment on "Outside the Fold" wins a $100 Amazon gift certificate. Entries must be received by midnight, Sunday, September 29th, 2013. Subscribe to the blog (by RSS or by e-mail in the right hand column) for updates.

 
**DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**
 
Alexa comes from a close-knit Chinese family. Her parents came to the United States from Beijing in 1981 so that her father could attend college. Alexa was born in California, and her parents chose to remain in the U.S. Although they are comfortable in their adopted homeland, they remain very traditional about certain things. In particular, they expect Alexa to marry a Chinese boy.
 
Alexa, however, doesn’t see things the same way. When she went away to college, she was open to dating people from every ethnicity. She started seeing Brian, an Irish Catholic guy, two months into their freshman year. Now a junior, Alexa is expecting a visit from her parents, and Brian would like to meet them. 
 
Should Alexa introduce Brian to her family? Is it racist for Alexa’s parents to oppose interracial relationships?  
 
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Comments Comments

Shreshtha Wadhwa said on Sep 17, 2013
Meeting the parents and the family is always difficult in any relationship, but is even more so in an interracial relationship, due to additional barriers such as language, communication, unfamiliar customs, and the like. It can be awkward meeting with the family the very first time, but it's only as awkward and uncomfortable as you make it to be. I definitely feel that Alexa should introduce Brian to her family if they are at the point in their relationship where they have established that they love each other, are ready to open up to their respective families and feel that the meeting would benefit them both. Alexa cannot hide her relationship with Brian forever from her parents and should confront her family about the issue as soon as possible, rather than procrastinate and wait till years down the road when Alexa and Brian have even deeper feelings and become more intimate with one another, because it would just cause more grief and pain to their loved ones later on. It is better to be completely honest now then suffer the consequences much later. I don?t think that it is racist for Alexa?s parents to oppose interracial relationships because in the long run, some are just protective of their daughters and sons and want them to have a traditional, ?old-fashioned? family with grandchildren who are not confused about their heritage or ethnic background as they are likely to be if they are biracial. The negativity that Alexa?s parents might have towards Brian does not necessarily have to do with his skin color, religion, or even his class. They might only be experiencing some anxiety or nervousness about meeting someone who they don?t know at all yet, wondering whether he has true feelings for their daughter, and more importantly if he is treating her right ? all of which is completely natural for parents to think about. It?s all about talking to the boyfriend and formulating ways to broach the subject with the parents in a respectful and mature manner. Alexa might want to talk to her parents at least first, without her boyfriend present, so that they can really understand each other?s views and opinions. She could try saying, ?You know, I really care for Brian, and I wish you'd trust my judgment. Some of the great things in our relationship are (fill in the blanks). His background is part of what makes him unique and special." If their notions still exist after the conversation, she should try to figure out exactly why they have those notions. Maybe the best way to ask the parents to accept Alexa?s boyfriend is to ask them to simply meet and just get to know the guy and who he is. Alexa?s parents could be in for a surprise and notice things like his great personality, interest in academics and future aspirations, his likes and dislikes of sports and so on, rather than how he seems to appear on the outside to them ? as just a foreigner and complete stranger to them and their family?s ways. - Like - 4 people like this.
Shreshtha Wadhwa said on Sep 17, 2013
Meeting the parents and the family is always difficult in any relationship, but is even more so in an interracial relationship, due to additional barriers such as language, communication, unfamiliar customs, and the like. It can be awkward meeting with the family the very first time, but it's only as awkward and uncomfortable as you make it to be. I definitely feel that Alexa should introduce Brian to her family if they are at the point in their relationship where they have established that they love each other, are ready to open up to their respective families and feel that the meeting would benefit them both. Alexa cannot hide her relationship with Brian forever from her parents and should confront her family about the issue as soon as possible, rather than procrastinate and wait till years down the road when Alexa and Brian have even deeper feelings and become more intimate with one another, because it would just cause more grief and pain to their loved ones later on. It is better to be completely honest now then suffer the consequences much later. I don?t think that it is racist for Alexa?s parents to oppose interracial relationships because in the long run, some are just protective of their daughters and sons and want them to have a traditional, 'old-fashioned' family with grandchildren who are not confused about their heritage or ethnic background as they are likely to be if they are biracial. The negativity that Alexa's parents might have towards Brian does not necessarily have to do with his skin color, religion, or even his class. They might only be experiencing some anxiety or nervousness about meeting someone who they don't know at all yet, wondering whether he has true feelings for their daughter, and more importantly if he is treating her right - all of which is completely natural for parents to think about. It?s all about talking to the boyfriend and formulating ways to broach the subject with the parents in a respectful and mature manner. Alexa might want to talk to her parents at least first, without her boyfriend present, so that they can really understand each other's views and opinions. She could try saying, "You know, I really care for Brian, and I wish you'd trust my judgment. Some of the great things in our relationship are (fill in the blanks). His background is part of what makes him unique and special." If their notions still exist after the conversation, she should try to figure out exactly why they have those notions. Maybe the best way to ask the parents to accept Alexa's boyfriend is to ask them to simply meet and just get to know the guy and who he is. Alexa's parents could be in for a surprise and notice things like his great personality, interest in academics and future aspirations, his likes and dislikes of sports and so on, rather than how he seems to appear on the outside to them - as just a foreigner and complete stranger to them and their family's ways. - Like - 2 people like this.
Anamaria said on Sep 20, 2013
Alexa should definitely introduce Brain to her family! Even though her parents would disapprove in the beginning, they could learn a huge lesson from the love Brain and Alexa share. It is not racist for them to oppose interracial relationships because they do not know any better than to say so because of cultural tradition. It may seem racist to the outsider but for their culture it is a norm. Alexa's family would learn a lot from this relationship if it were to continue, like the minor factor race plays when you love someone for their human dignity and characteristics. It would benefit the couple to fight for their love and it would benefit the families to be more accepting of different cultures, people, and traditions. - Like - 1 person likes this.
Jav said on Sep 25, 2013
Alexa should certainly introduce brian to her family. Race should not determine whether or not you like somebody, and it is wrong of her parents to look down on her choice to date somebody of a different race - Like
Anti Racist said on Sep 26, 2013
It is important to point out that there is no such thing as racism against white people. Tim Wise explains this concept well for those who haven't heard this idea before. Since Brian is a white male, it can be concluded that any animosity directed towards him from Alexa's Chinese family can not be classified as racist. - Like - 3 people like this.
Akshay Vyas said on Sep 27, 2013
Very interesting argument you make Anti Racist. Tim Wise does speak a lot to this concept. I don't agree with you, however, that there is NO such thing as racism against white people. That is a pretty strong statement to make. Wise says that it is impossible in the United States for people of color to oppress white people, because of the fact that white people dominate our population and as result much of our institutional structures. This is on a broader scale, however. I would argue that in our circumstance here, the final authority figures seem to be Alexa's parents and family. They can oppress Brian and Alexa by not allowing them to date or marry. While as a social problem anti-white racism practiced by people of color will never equate to white racism against people of color, both are equally unethical and immoral. The fact of the matter here is that it doesn't matter to Alexa's family that Brian is white, but rather just that he isn't Chinese. Be it White, Black, Japanese, Mexican, Indian, etc., Alexa's parents' level of animosity toward Brian would not change. - Like
AG said on Jan 30, 2014
When I think about this scenario I wouldn't call Alexa's parents racists. Their opposition to interracial relationships is probably a result of respect to Chinese tradition and fear of changes. However, I believe that after thirty years of living in American society they might become more tolerant towards other cultures. Even if Alexa feels that her parents will disapprove Brian, she should definitely introduce him to them. It is likely that when Alexa's parents see how important Brian is to their daughter, they may look at a situation from a different point of view. It is easy to make general statements and set the rules, but often it changes, when it's us facing particular problem. Alexa is her parents' daughter and her happiness should b their priority. In this case, I don't think that it is Alexa who is facing the most serious ethical dilemma. In my opinion, she should introduce her boyfriend to her parents and give them a chance to reconsider their opinion on interracial marriage. The decision of approving or disapproving Alexa's relationship with Brian most probably will be a moral dilemma to the parents, as their will have to choose between following their believes and tradition and letting their daughter make her own choices and become more independent. I definitely believe that Alexa should have the right to question what her parents think. It was her parents' decision to raise Alexa in the US and they had to take into consideration the fact that living within such a diverse society will affect Alexa's feeling of cultural belonging. - Like
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