Although interracial dating is a prevalent issue in our society right now, there has also been an increasing rise in intercultural dating. Although many who are under the ‘Black British’ title share the same race, our heritages can be completely different which can cause joyous and difficult moments when it comes to relationships. So as Valentine’s day is just around the corner, we thought it would be good to interview some intercultural couples.
1) Jamaican & Ghanaian: Married
* Have a respect for and an interest in each other’s cultural backgrounds. Don’t be culturally snobbish.
* Each person should be aware that certain things about their culture are not so obvious to those outside of it. Put yourself in an outsiders shoe and be considerate. Take time to teach those aspects that are important to you.
* Good communication is a must! There may be aspects of the other person’s culture that you strongly disagree with and vice versa. Rather than keep silent on this, have a conversation and learn to understand before being understood as much as possible.
* Try and get to know each other’s family and friends and find out how each person interacts with them. Speak more with them if necessary.
* Start learning to pronounce their last name if it’s difficult and also go back and teach your family too. You never know it could be the last name that ends up replacing yours
* I love Caribbean food and I get to enjoy my wife’s Jamaican cuisine. We also get to fuse our African and Caribbean cuisines together to come up with new dishes.
* Being with someone from another culture opens up a whole new fascinating world to explore that you wouldn’t experience as deeply if you were with someone exactly the same as you culturally.
* I feel it’s made me a lot more open-minded.
* It’s been cool to see certain similarities in the cultures (eg. foods, morals, family values, etc)
* Learning new things and not being so stuck within your own circle.
* Healthy, interesting debates/discussions
* I love the traditional African attire because I never saw my family wearing the traditional Caribbean attire. So it’s great to introduce it to my family.
* Pride in who you are and where you came from. Learning the rich heritage that we all share. Plus we found out that my granddad on my father’s side originates from Ghana.
* The ONE thing that we will always debate on is how you pronounce the word ‘PLANTAIN’ I say Planta’IN’, he say’s Plant’AIN’
* Trying to understand each of our family’s languages, TWI and Patois mixed with English. On both sides you are not sure if they are telling a joke, speaking about you or asking you a direct question that needs to be answered pronto. Be there for each other so you can translate. lol
Difficult situation (1):
My Nan initially had issue with my partner when we were dating because he was African. Before even meeting him, she expressed strong displeasure in my being with him and that she preferred me being with my ex, who was Caribbean. Her view was that most Africans were rude, because the Africans in the neighborhood she knew of were rude to her, plus the experiences that she had had in the past. My aunties were also cautious and one of them decided to interrogate him, asking many questions, one of them being what his idea of a wife is. He thought she was joking but after seeing the look on her face, he realized that she really wasn’t and that he had better answer and answer good. After this meeting and passing the Auntie test, they changed their minds about him, as they saw that he did not fit their stereotypes and was very kind and loving towards me and not rude or arrogant. Now they all love him, especially my Nan, who always asks for him when I call her.
Difficult situation (2):
A difficult situation came about when a friend and I were finally introduced to his mom at a wedding. As he was in his last year of University, he couldn’t be there so it was his brother who introduced us. The only thing was that he introduced us using his mom’s first name. I remember finding that a little strange because I know that for many African women, especially if you are younger than them, prefer you calling them Auntie etc and that is the same for the Caribbean’s in some respects i.e. sister Ruby, brother Lucas etc. etc. But within our church the majority calls each other by our first names and it’s not so much of a taboo whatever the age range.
Well due to his mom not correcting him at the time we proceeded to call her by her first name and everything was ok, or so we thought.
One day I was going into church and I saw his mom and I politely greeted her by her first name and she politely greeted me back.10 minutes later his mom stopped what she was doing and came looking for me in church. When she found me, by the looks of her demeanor I knew she was not happy about something. She began to ask me about my day and I answered and then she let me have it.
Lets just say that though I handled myself extremely well, when the door closed I was in floods of tears. I phoned (K) at uni and told him what had happened. He was so apologetic and took the blame due to that fact that he should have warned me or just told me a little more about his families communication. Then to make matters worse (K) got an overseas phone call from another family member having a go at him about this wayward rude Caribbean girl that he had picked up and was causing trouble. It was an extremely difficult time to have some of the person you love’s family not like you and have a different viewpoint of you. I’m happy to say though we stuck it out and now it’s like it never happened, we all have a deep love and understanding for each other and it continues to grow pushing the cultural stereotypes aside and though we have difficulties like any other family, we are still a team.
2) Jamaican & Nigerian: Dating
Advice: Enter open minded. Being in an intercultural relationship is great. I enjoy learning about my other half’s culture and food. Especially food, I’ve always loved Caribbean food and now I have more occasions to eat it. However, it isn’t all fun and games and tumblr posts. It leaves your own culture open to scrutiny, which can be a hard thing. Especially when you have to explain traditions you grew up with to an outsider. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it can be tough. I think the key is being open and understanding of one another. Their culture forms a large part of who they are and they are the person you chose to be with.
Pros: You become more open minded. You view things from a perspective other than your own. It makes you a broader person. There’s more to learn about the person, which is a lot of fun, especially in the beginning. If you’re both easy going you can banter each other’s cultures.
Cons: Making sure your families get along. Relatives may have their own prejudices about your partner’s culture aka his grandma may fear Nigerians and juju. It takes time to learn the different traditions.
Memorable moment: When I fed him pounded yam and egusi. His face was priceless. To this day he swears I tricked him into eating it
3) Nigerian & Ghanaian: Dating
Advice: it’s so important to understand the persons upbringing and how their culture has played a part in that. So for instance, he understands that he can’t just meet my parents until literally he’s about to talk to them about marriage lol understanding the persons upbringing makes arguments and misunderstandings less of an occurrence.
Pros: Getting to know about another culture and learning about it is a lot of fun
Cons: is that he’s from another country out future isn’t going to be straight forward as maybe other relationships
By Priscilla McGregor-Kerr