Ebony & Ivory

Love tran­scends all things – even the colour of your skin.

CLEO (Malaysia) - - YOUR LIFE, YOUR RULES! -

You’ve prob­a­bly no­ticed by now that this is­sue has a theme: colour. Flip through the pages and you’ll doubt­less find dozens of vi­brant fash­ion finds through which you can ex­press your unique sense of self. This col­umn is also about colour, but of a darker hue.

To be per­fectly clear, we’re talk­ing mixed-race cou­ples. Now depend­ing on your up­bring­ing and level of per­sonal con­ser­vatism, that phrase – you know, the blend­ing of dif­fer­ent cul­tures in one hot ro­mance – would have elicited one of sev­eral re­sponses in you. Per­haps, you have no prob­lem with the con­cept. If so, we’re good. Feel free to flip for­ward to the next page. Per­haps you’re am­biva­lent, in which case I in­vite you stick around for what fol­lows. If you’re un­com­fort­able with the no­tion, sit the hell down be­cause there’s some­thing you need to hear.

As some­one who grew up wit­ness­ing the tran­si­tion of South Africa from apartheid pariah to Rain­bow Na­tion, I’ve seen dozens of cou­ples cross what was once seen as a so­cially (and even morally) un­ac­cept­able boundary with glo­ri­ous re­sults. Of course, there’s not al­ways a happy end­ing but that’s more to do with the in­di­vid­u­als than the cul­tures from which they hailed. I have dated An­glo-Sax­ons, sev­eral Amer­i­can Jews, two Chi­nese Cana­di­ans, and a Thai Bud­dhist. With­out fail, it was the women with whom I the­o­ret­i­cally had the least in com­mon who taught me the most. I ended up mar­ry­ing one whose gene pool and cul­tural back­ground was so dif­fer­ent to mine that our re­spec­tive par­ents still have noth­ing to talk about. But our dif­fer­ences paled in com­par­i­son to our sim­i­lar­i­ties and con­tinue to do so. I’m not sug­gest­ing you em­bark on a pan-cul­tural ro­mance-fest – we nat­u­rally grav­i­tate to those most like us – but if the op­por­tu­nity does come your way, at least con­sider the op­tion. What­ever you want to call it – in­fat­u­a­tion, at­trac­tion, lust – there are cer­tain con­nec­tions that tran­scend ev­ery­thing we think or be­lieve about our­selves – some­thing so vis­ceral and el­e­men­tal that cen­turies of prej­u­dices or mis­trust can fall in its wake.

Of course there will be chal­lenges. Prob­a­bly a few more than if you were with some­one who ate the same food and cel­e­brated the same hol­i­days you did grow­ing up, but in­sur­mount­able they ain’t. In fact, the re­la­tion­ship will prob­a­bly prompt you to re-eval­u­ate much of what you be­lieve to be true and right. You may even find yourself at odds with people who dis­ap­prove of your con­duct.

But here’s the thing, even the staunch­est and most out­dated ideas will crum­ble in the face of love and its trans­for­ma­tive power. Your on­go­ing hap­pi­ness will even­tu­ally trump the lack of suit­abil­ity once as­cribed to the per­son who is clearly bring­ing you this joy. And if oth­ers can’t see it, it’s not your prob­lem.

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