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.
You know that feeling when you have friends, but hardly see them, but then when you do it’s like you’ve never been apart? That’s how we feel when we meet up with the Patons. A really wonderful bunch of people and I love that I can share their story with you.
Tell us a little bit about yourself – what you do, what you like to spend your time on etc
I’m currently working as an administrator at a waste management company- pretty random as I’m actually a physiotherapist. I’m hoping to go back to physio in the near future though. In terms of my time, it’s pretty much taken up by work in the mornings, then fetching kids and doing the extra mural rigmarole 🙂
Tell us a little bit about your partner – what they do, what they like to spend time on etc
Simon is a software developer for a software company who delivers custom software solutions and services to owners and operators of Real estate. He is lucky enough to be passionate about what he does vocationally which makes going to work a pleasure. He is also an avid mountain biker and also enjoys running.
Give us a bit of insight into your racial/cultural backgrounds.
Simon is a white man who grew up in Pinelands. He did however have a fair amount of friends from other races at school, and he also grew up with his family interacting with people from different races. I grew up in a coloured family living in a coloured neighborhood. I only mixed with coloured people as my family didn’t really interact much with other races. That was until grade 4 when I changed schools and went to a “model C” school. I then began to interact with people from other races. I also went to a different church in Grade 7 that was very diverse. That’s where Simon and I met.
Tell us all about your kids
We have three GORGEOUS kids. Giorgia (7), Zoë (5) and Ben (will be 2 in August). They are all beautiful and brainy! Must take after their mamma!! And all strong-willed- definitely get that from dad (LOL)! Giorgia is in Grade 1 and smashing her academics like a champ! She’s definitely inherited her dad’s amazing work ethic. Zoë is our little dare devil who without a doubt will be giving her dad a run for his money on the bike trails soon. And Ben… Oh my Ben-Ben. I never thought I could love another man. But I do. I’m smitten! And that’s it. THREE. The end.
What kind of role does race play in your family dynamic?
I think Simon thinks it doesn’t feature. But for me, I’m still quite aware of the differences in our cultures, probably because most of our friends are white, and I’m often the only brown person in the room. It never really used to bother me, but I must admit I’ve become much more aware of it of late. I guess I’ve been wondering how my kids see people and themselves in the light of race/culture (particularly because our oldest girl has lighter skin, the middle brown skin, and Ben is the fairest of them all).
Not really. I think our differences come down more to family culture than race, which you’d find in any marriage.
What are some of the ignorant and hurtful things that have been said to you and your husband about this issue?
Not directly to me, but someone in my mother-in-law’s complex, when she was pushing our middle daughter (with the darker skin) in a pram, asked “is she adopted”. Not so much hurtful, because adoption is awesome, just ignorant.
What kind of experiences have you or your partner had when you have been out with your kids (alone with them or together as a family)?
I think we still get “looks” from people. But then you never know why: is it because we’re so young and have 3 kids?; is it because we have THREE kids; or is it because we’re a mixed race family. If I’m alone with the kids, I think people just think I’m the nanny!!
Did you have any fears about parenting mixed race children before you had them? Have any of those fears changed since becoming a Mommy/Daddy to kids with mixed genes?
A big fear was that they’d get my hair!! Luckily they didn’t!! But seriously, with dealing with my own issues about appearance and what beautiful is (eg long, straight hair vs short curly fro), I’m still fearful of projecting those unhealthy views onto my children. I want them to see all sorts as beautiful.
What do you think we can do to combat this ignorance/stupidity?
Have more mixed race families!! Make it more normal. But also, I think we need to diversify our friendship circles so we can find out more about other races and culture and actually do life together.
Do you have any advice for those in a mixed race relationship that are facing judgement because of it?
Mix it up. Different is beautiful and fun. Don’t put a limit on love. Be careful what you take to heart, people can be ignorant and sometimes downright stupid.