April 5th, 2011
4 Ways To Support Interracial Couples

If you’re reading this article, you probably have a family member, friend or co-worker that’s in an interracial relationship. You’ve seen them struggling with negative criticism and you want to do your best to respect them and show them how much you care. Bravo! You’ve already taken the first step by reading this article.  Below is a list of tips that can help you to continue as a positive influence in their life.

Give encouragement.

  • Remember, couples in interracial relationships deal with a lot of negative responses from the community. Anytime that you can say something positive about their relationship or give an encouraging word, it’s bound to be appreciated. Just reaching out to make a kind comment or participate in something you know they love is a good start to being a strong and emotionally supportive ally to this couple. Whether it be your attempt to speak a few words in a new language or having a latte at the mall, all these little actions add up to them knowing that you care. Sometimes, it may seem like they should already know…but when their spirits are dashed and doubts are high, a little reassurance can go a long way.

Get involved.

  • One thing that’s unavoidable is having some understanding (at least the basics) of the culture, language, religion, stereotypes, etc. in question. This doesn’t mean learning a whole language or attending every cultural event in town. But when opportunities to get involved present themselves, use them to learn something new. You can get to know a lot about a new culture by participating in some common events. Attend a special religious service (i.e. baptism, wedding, holiday), shop at ethnic stores, attend cultural diversity events, eat new foods and ask questions about how their made, etc. The more you explore, the more comfortable you will become.

Be considerate.

  • Because of the attacks they undergo, couples in interracial relationships can be a bit sensitive. Think before you speak and be considerate with your words. Before referring to someone by a generalized term, like “Hispanic” or “Arab”, ask them how they’d like to be addressed. Try not to make broad assumptions or say things that could be offensive. Your thoughtfulness will put couples at ease and cultivate more open conversations.

Speak up.

  • When you hear racist jokes, slurs or other negative comments, take a stand against that behavior. A disproving face or polite comment can go a long way in discouraging questionable or derogatory statements. In times where tensions are high and your thoughts might not be well received, walking away with a simple…”excuse me” can help. When needed, use actions like a bathroom break or making a drink to exit yourself from the conversation and avoid those aggressive or uncomfortable confrontations. Over time, people will get the point that you’re not interested in participating in any dialog that degrades the couple or other races and ethnicities.

Chantilly Patiño writes the blog Bicultural Mom, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @biculturalmom.

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