Today I wanted to talk about reverse racism. I use this expression to describe the reaction of people when I, as a Western person, married an Asian and faced the common perception that this was not a true love marriage, or that my husband has “done well” for himself, or most frustratingly that this was a “passport” marriage. Are we all so skeptical in today’s modern world that it seems completely unfeasible that two people with different skin colors might fall in love? More often than not, the misconceptions that I have outlined above were the common reactions that both of us received.
I have briefly mentioned this in my previous articles part one “skin colour convos” and here for part two. There I outlined the issues that I personally faced when trying to integrate into my husbands family environment. Aside from being culturally different, I was also battling with a new religion, change in environment, family pressure and career challenges. Looking back, I don’t feel ashamed to say that I am proud of how I dealt with it and how as a couple these challenges made us stronger – but it was a huge eye opener for me to see how often people viewed me as a “cash cow” and how I was treated so differently because of this. Some might argue with me that this is not racism – but surely it is? The definition of racism that I found below is
1. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.
2. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
I wanted to share with you two incidents that have really stuck in my mind as symbolic of how the world views mixed race marriage.
The first happened recently when undergoing a visa application. My husband attended with all my documents and was met with dumbfounded stares. He was questioned by the immigration officers as to how he could possibly be married to someone from the UK. When he explained they demanded to see the marriage documents, and even then their attitude was derogatory towards my husband and the questioning continued. Repeated “how can you be married” and “why did you get married” questions were thrown at him. Needless to say the whole experience was humiliating and embarrassing for him. After three attempts at completing this process I finally attended the office with him, and the treatment my husband received was completely different. We were in and out within 15 minutes without a single question.
The second incident happened about two years ago when an acquaintance of a colleague of mine contacted me via SMS. The message said (and this is no word of a lie) “Please can you help me I want a quality British girlfriend like you for companionship and more. It is very lonely staying alone in the Middle East and I would like to go to the UK”. I have to admit I was absolutely shocked and stunned. In which world is sending a message like this acceptable to anyone and has the desperation to get a “better” passport overtaken our sense of pride? At the time, the fact that I was being described as “quality British” and that a visit to the UK was the obvious intention really upset me. As time went on I became more accustomed to events like this, particularly after I got married and it was automatically assumed my husband could, and would, jump on the first flight to the UK with his brand new shiny passport (FYI he’s never been and doesn’t really want to – its too cold he says!).
Have we all become so money oriented that we don’t even recognize the value of human feelings anymore? As I prepare for the birth of my first child, I can’t help but wonder what kind of treatment my children will face in both the UK and in Sri Lanka. They will be ‘from’ the UK, but their skin will be dark. Their mother is white but she’s also a Muslim. Their father is Sri Lankan but still a religious minority in his own country. How will this affect them and how will they deal with it? I can only hope (perhaps naively) that judgments will lesson, and that any conflicts they face will be minimal. But given the experiences that we all go through, and what we see on the news almost daily, realistically how likely is this?
More next time x