My Interracial Marriage Isn’t That Exotic

Alex and Camille Barnett

Alex and Camille Barnett

Those of you who follow my comedy know that my wife is a Black woman who converted to Judaism. What you also know is that we have a young son who is Biracial and Jewish. As a result, I can tell you that Black-Jewish relations in our family are at an all-time high.

But, we are not an anomaly. Since time immemorial, there has been a connection, a bond, between Black and Jewish people.  Perhaps it’s our respective histories of oppression. Perhaps it’s because of our mothers, who are overbearing, intrusive and force us to eat. Perhaps it’s because without us, there would be no music industry. Whatever the reason, the simple fact is that there is a bond between Blacks and Jews.

My wife and I are not the first mixed-race couple ever. Far from it. Nor will we be the last. Our union is not even particularly ground-breaking. Neither of our families threatened to disown us if we got married. Crazy people in sheets didn’t commit violence against us. Racist law enforcement officials didn’t threaten us with jail-time if we, in fact, got married.

No, we just got married one Sunday morning. Then, we went home from the synagogue, and, as our honeymoon, we took a nap. The world kept spinning on its axis. The Sun rose and set that day, and everyone more or less went about their business. No one had a conniption fit (except for our families because we didn’t invite any family members to the ceremony).

Like I said, uneventful.

But, in retrospect, I realize it was not so uneventful. While the number of mixed-race families (and, indeed, mixed-race people) is growing all the time, mixed-race couples still are not so common as to be the norm. Admit it, when you see a Black person with a White person, you notice. How can you not? It’s different. It’s Black skin juxtaposed with White skin. There is a contrast. It is not, as my fashion designer wife would say, “so matchy-matchy.”

So, being in a mixed-race couple still is different. It still engenders looks, still raises eyebrows, still causes people to stop, look, point, stare and/or comment.  And, by the way, I’m not simply accusing others. I do it myself.  If I see a mixed-race couple when I’m walking around, I notice them too. (Then, I usually offer them a subtle head nod, as if to say, “yep, me too.  Peace.”).

Posted on March 18, 2014

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