Welcome back to my favourite series!
I’m glad that you’re back to read the next installment. Here are the other ones in case you want to catch up.
Here’s a little bit of background as to why I want to do this series and why I want YOU to read it and share it with your friends. Besides the odd intentional racist, I feel like a lot of the hurtful comments floating around are actually just brought about through ignorance of how their words will affect other people. Thinking only of our own personal situations with little regard for others, because that’s all that we know. So in an effort to broaden what we know, I thought I would interview a wide range of South Africans that have a variety of different situations – from mixed race couples to single race couples that adopt cross racially to couples that share the same “race” but differ vastly in terms of culture. A bit of a mumble jumble of everything really.
So let’s get started!
If you would like to join in and be featured in this series or know of someone that would, please feel free to get in touch with me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want this to be a safe space where we can share stories and encourage each other to be more accepting of our fellow South Africans of all races, cultures and situations. So while I want to encourage you to comment and open a discussion, I will not tolerate any abusive or troll like comments here.
Tell us a little bit about yourself – what you do, what you like to spend your time on etc
My name is Melissa Marangoh. I am a stay at home mom to our son who recently turned one. I enjoy spending time with loved ones, enjoying good food, I love reading, hiking, family walks by the river, cooking and baking. It took some time adjusting from office life to being at home but it’s been a very worthwhile experience to be there and watch our boy grow.
Tell us a little bit about your partner – what they do, what they like to spend time on etc
Martin Coetzee is a Senior Systems Analyst. He is a great man and loving father. I knew I wanted to have a family with him through the way he interacts with his niece and nephews, he’s great with kids. In his non-existent spare time he loves watching Moto GP and rugby, playing games on his PS, hanging out with friends and family or catching up on his favourite series.
Give us a bit of insight into your racial/cultural backgrounds.
Martin is Afrikaans, I am Zimbabwean Shona/Kalanga.
Where do you live? Does how you are “accepted” change when you visit different places?
We live in Beverley, Sandton. Yes it does, Sandton is more a tuned to mixed families, you see a ‘variety’ of mixes here. Whereas in other parts it’s not the “norm” hence people tend to stare. I have however had people close to me ask me things like , “what do we eat”? “What language/s do we speak to our son in?” We really are like any other home. I cook what I feel like and that ranges from lasagne to pap, gravy and wors.
Tell us all about your kids – brag a bit – it’s OK 😉
Our little boy, Alex Tafadzwa Coetzee just turned one and he truly is the light of our lives. He is a happy little soul who’s learning how to walk now. He loves his food. I get so jealous because he gives dada these adorable kisses, it’s the sweetest thing ever. My only consolation is that he shares his yummy snacks with me. Anything and everything is a telephone to him from a sock to his rubber duck..and he’s always on the ‘phone’ with his dada. I love the bond my boys share, it’s breathtaking to watch father and son.
We don’t, we do not see it until someone brings it up.
What kind of role does it play in your family? Does it even feature?
No, it doesn’t
Are there big differences in your marriage relationship that are affected by your heritage/culture?
Between the two of us, no. It usually happens when there’s a major event, marriage/birth mostly from my side of the family. However I am not very cultural. We do compromise a lot for example: when I had my son I did not move back home to be with my mother. Instead I asked that she come live with us. I needed her guidance and Martin needed a chance to be with his son as well.
How have your families reacted to your relationship?
We all get along very well. We are truly blessed to be surrounded by love and support from both his and my side.
I get asked if Alex is my son which really gets annoying.
What are some of the ignorant and hurtful things that have been said to you and your husband about this issue?
He was born fairer than Martin and there were talks about his skin tone changing, ‘Oh he’ll get darker’. Does it matter what color his skin is? Again the question of, is he my son?
What do you think we can do to combat this ignorance/stupidity?
People do not realise how brainwashed they are by race. Judge a person for the type of person they are, not how they look. Television plays a major role in the way people view things. I am happy to see more adverts with mixed families being aired. We need more exposure to show that we are your everyday family just different in our shades of skin. I feel what perpetuates this illusion are stereotypes like: black women who go for white men for money/white men who date black women because it is exotic. They cannot see beyond, that both these individuals can build a home and raise a family together. So the rest of us get viewed under these categories hence they do not understand how our life works.
Have any of those fears changed since becoming a Mommy/Daddy to kids with mixed genes?
No, like any parent I want to raise a confident, happy, healthy well rounded child. We will protect him and educate him so that he does not fall prey to the notions out there.
Do you have any advice for those new to this experience?
Don’t let your relationship/family get sucked into stereotypes based on the illusions that people have. I am not ‘lucky’ to have a ‘white’ fiance. Yes, he has seen my natural hair and prefers it to a weave. We shave each others hair. He helps me take out my weave. I do not live in make up and false lashes. We play PS together, have lazy days at home in our pjs. When I look into his eyes I see the soft loving soul I fell in love with 5 and a half years ago. We are in this because we love each other and want to grow old driving each other mad. Stay true to yourselves and your love.