Posted on July 6, 2011

His Parents Said, ‘Not With a White Girl’

Diane Farr, CNN, July 5, 2011

I fell for “The Giant Korean” at a weekend-long destination wedding. I couldn’t yet pronounce either of his real names (Seung or Yong) and although his friends called him “Sing,” I stuck with the catch phrase my girlfriends and I had coined the first time I met him because, frankly, my nickname captured his presence better.

I had come around to a slight Americanization of his real name by the first time we exchanged “I love yous,” but it seemed of little consequence when Seung then added that I would never be welcome in his family’s home. Seung had been told, all his life, more or less, that he was not allowed to marry someone like me.


Yes, it was white privilege that blinded me to the fact I might be the bottom of the barrel on someone else’s race card.


But truthfully, I was blindsided for personal reasons, too. Years before this I had fought with my own mother over our family’s prejudices when it came to love.

I had more than one black boyfriend in my twenties, and a few others in shades between olive and dark brown. When my parents said that one of them shouldn’t be invited to our holiday table, I stopped showing up also.


I knew their prejudices came from the ignorance of confusing economics, education and opportunity with culture. But they simultaneously taught me that I had a right to speak up for what I believed and to defend my choices.

I only had the gumption to fight them and eventually end their narrow-mindedness because they showed me so much love.

So I found it particularly saddening to be back in the same mess, 15 years later, dressed in different robes. {snip}


Instead, when he told me his parents would never let him be with a white girl, I stared into his eyes and smiled. Not because I was feeling his plight but because I’d become cautious of him.

This man I had woken up with earlier in the day now seemed like a stranger to me. Specifically, he seemed like someone of another culture that I didn’t know or understand. {snip}


Using my words, gently and respectfully, in many, many, many subsequent conversations about how I felt did in fact lead Seung Yong and I to marry–with the full support of all our parents.

But it was only through continuous dialogue–at the dinner table with friends who could advise us, and using calm voices in the bedroom with one another, and keeping an open mind on the couch at the therapist’s office–that we were able to find a way to make our familial cultures meet in the middle at our mutual American one.

Seven years later and three half-Asian/half-Caucasian children deep, the discussion of race rarely comes up in our home. But only because we worked so hard to make sure the inconsistencies we were both taught in our parents’ homes about what kinds of people were worthy to love would never be a part of our home or life together.