Modernization has pioneered interracial relationships. The 1967 Supreme Court Case Loving v. Virginia overturned the illegality of mixed race relationships. However, in such a modern world, how does culture influence the dating game?
Vietnamese-American student, Tiffany Vo has been in a relationship with her boyfriend, Jesus Urzua since they met in high school for over three years. Urzua identifies as Mexican-American.
Both Vo and Urzua say their relationship is more acceptable to the outside world, considering the United States’ history. “I think society has definitely grown to accept it more and more,” said Vo. Urzua added, “But not every single person is accepting of it.”
Vo’s family values have affected her relationship. “My parents holding such strong traditional Vietnamese values, they only accept him as a close friend, even though I have made it quite obvious that he is a lot more than that,” said Vo. To this day, Vo says that her family does not consider Urzua her boyfriend.
Urzua said that his family however, is more open to his first interracial relationship despite cultural or racial barriers. “There is definitely a language barrier with her parents and I, and also between my parents and Tiffany,” said Urzua.
Dating, however, is different than marriage. Colombian native, Elizabeth Maker has been married for 12 years to her U.S. born, white husband. Maker and her husband met in Bogota, Colombia.
Two different countries mean compromise. “My religion is Catholicism. When we started our relationship, he was not involved at all in my Catholic Parish,” said Maker. She added that the difficulty of the situation changed as he learned to practice her religion.
Maker’s first and only interracial relationship also results in language barrier. It is a feat overcome by combining each other’s culture into a Colombo-American life.
As diverse as cultures are from one another, couples are capable of learning much from their partner. “I have learned a great deal about partner communication in these past couple of years,” said Vo. Urzua added that his commitment to Vo has taught him a lot about relationships and has given him the pleasure to explore a different culture, while sharing his too.
“[A relationship] changes you point of view of what works in the world and realize each human is equal,” Maker said, “I am happy and lucky to have this cultural marriage… and grow as a human being.”
Relationships may face problems over race, socioeconomic status, gender, etc. In any case, there are times where a person has to choose between their traditional family values and partners.
“In my opinion, society sees interracial relationships as normal situations because we are living in a different time with a more open mind,” said Maker, “I had a very private life with my husband when we started our relationship.” For that reason, Maker says she never felt criticized.
Vo says her family is very traditional and claims she chooses her boyfriend over traditional family values. “It’s a real struggle, but it’s worth it.” She says she realizes that in the future, she will have to abide by her parents “guidelines on what guys to date and which career to pursue.”
Who a person dates may be highly influenced by their culture. While some know that they will face cultural barriers, in the most cliché of terms love overcomes anything. For now they are happily committed to a person of a different race.