Navigating Response to My Interracial Friendships

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Accepting Positive and Negative Responses to My Story

I read a lot of blogs, but haven’t been blogging much myself.  Honestly, my cultural well runs a little dry sometimes.  In the scurry and hurry of our daily life, I forget about culture.  Lacrosse practices, taekwondo, dinners, homework, and on and on. Our daily life just is.

However, it all came back when recently I was approached by the chief editor of Masalamommas, Anjum Choudry, to write an article about my cross-cultural experiences.  I had read the online magazine many times, and love its open and honest approach to many aspects of life for moms with a south Asian connection. So, would I contribute?  Um…yeah!  So, I wrote about my experiences trying to fit in with my husband’s Indian friends when we were first married.  Fitting was a tough thing to do, and when you read the article, you’ll see that I didn’t exactly gain as many Indian friends as I would have liked. I was really nervous when the article was published on the site, because, hey, putting yourself out there on your own blog is one thing, but putting your life on a display on a successful online magazine with a huge readership was totally another thing.  But –gulp- I did it and it was published for all to see. An excerpt:

I am white. I am a Southerner. I am also the wife of a really amazing guy who is Indian, but I shouldn’t have tried to be Indian-ish to fit in with his friends. I shouldn’t have to.

The response to it has been overwhelming to me. Apparently my views stirred up a lot of discussion and Anjum, who is also a radio host on MirchMasalaRadio, interviewed me on the air about my article. I have been humbled by the number of people who have praised it, as well as the commenters who hated it.  When I read the first negative comment, and then the next, my super white cheeks burned like Hades! No one wants to be hated, and no one wants to be criticized.  There were some women who were annoyed by my story, and read white-privilege tones into my writing. Like I felt years ago, when my friends told me I offended them with my joking comments about Indian culture, again I felt singled different.  I hadn’t mean to offend anyone, and certainly don’t mean to sound like a white supremacist in my story.  And like I realized with my Indian friends who dumped me, I grew a thick skin with these comments, too.

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of expression is a beautiful thing, and I’m glad all of my readers have the benefit of exercising  our rights to free speech. I respect their thoughts, but I’m not going to try to change their opinions of me, either.

I have my story, imperfect as it is.  It’s my story and I choose to share it to show people that we all make mistakes. All of us.  I also needed to raise awareness of the feelings, on all sides, that can fester sometimes. Without the dialogue about my experiences, or my critics’ expression of their views, we can never even try to understand each other.  We don’t have to like each other.  But…

We can agree to disagree.

God-willing, we moms and wives can grow from a dialogue on our differences and commonalities, and become better people in the end.  I think I have grown with age and experience, hopefully not just around the middle, but also inside.

To all of my readers, fans and haters. Thank you for just talking.

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4 thoughts on “Navigating Response to My Interracial Friendships

  1. I read your article last week and it was great. Wasn’t able to comment because mobile but I really appreciated it! And the story about how your Indian friends reacted was very honest. I think that all of us have had a similar moment, but just aren’t up to the task of sharing it.

    “Lacrosse practices, taekwondo, dinners, homework, and on and on. Our daily life just is.”
    ^^ This is culture – this is your culture! I didn’t grow up with lacrosse being on the sports menu. As someone who hasn’t had kids yet, I don’t understand the shuttling kids here and there thing and homework thing … that’s mom culture. And your family mixes influences from your home culture (the lacrosse thing?) and your husband’s home culture, and then adds new elements from 21st century American southern culture because that’s when and where you are ….

    No wonder you don’t have a lot of time to think about culture… you are immersed in living it every day 🙂

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