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Common ground

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When William moved from South America to the United States, he had difficulty adjusting. He would even describe his experience as a “freak out.”

“I was Hispanic, spoke a different language and on the top of that, I was gay,” he said.

He was very different from everyone else. Coming from a society so closed-minded that even a boy that plays volleyball is usually chastised and called a fag, William thought that living in the United States was going to be terribly difficult.

A few months after arriving, things started to settle down and William got a job and, eventually, a boyfriend. His fears and concerns suddenly started to rise again. Was it going to be challenging dating a white a man? Will the two of us have things in common? What should I expect? What will society think?

Interracial relationships have difficulties that other relationships don’t have to face.  They suffer not only from general issues of a relationship, but also the prejudice of other people, and problems brought on by differences between their cultures.

The difficulties in the relationships are balanced by other rewarding benefits. Ethnic groups bring variety and richness to a society by introducing their own ideas and customs.

In a perfect world, everyone would be happy about increasing diversity and adding richness to our culture. But the world doesn’t look at all relationships as love between two people without regard to their race and gender.

If we were color blind, we would accept interracial relationships. Nearly 500 years after America was discovered, many Americans are still worried about race. Today, America is still known as one of the best multicultural societies in the world. Nevertheless, some Americans don’t approve of the diversity.

When you have two people from two different countries, or from two different races, you have different angles to the same situation because there are differences in the ways people are raised.

Take these common cultural differences, combine them with problems that are already present in developing new relationships, and we will have the ingredients necessary for conflict.  Each person in an interracial relationship has taken a chance. They have entered into a relationship that might not be accepted by the prejudices of their own family and friends.

How do you overcome the problems if you are in an interracial relationship?  First, understand that your situation isn’t unique. There are many people out there with the same situation.

Also, find out as much as you can about your partner’s culture and background as possible. It will help you to understand his or her issues.

A common misunderstanding  is the use of some words. For example, people in Latin America use the term “fatty” (gordita) to show some kind of love. It doesn’t have any intention to make anyone feel unhappy. But in the United States that word can be extremely offensive.

Another example of this is the fact that Americans use the phrase, “I’m sorry,” too often. Sometimes it makes me wonder if the person is really sorry, or he or she is just saying the phrase.

Be patient and teach your partner your customs and culture, not your prejudices and beliefs. Do not expect that just because your partner is in your country he or she should adapt to your ways. Most people probably will, over time, but don’t apply pressure. Let them grow on their own with your help and understanding.

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