Coupling Cultures

Story Katherine Wong
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“White people shouldn’t be with Chinks!” Ten years ago Valerie was confronted by an angry woman who voiced this objection. She remembers how the comment hurt. Biracial couples face unique challenges, but successful relationships refuse to let race matter.

Paige and John Rodreiquez have been married for ten months. John is southeast Asian and Paige is of European ancestry. Paige says, “I never look at my husband and think ‘My Filipino husband.’ He’s just John.” According to John, their social circle is culturally diverse and their friends share similar values. The couple does not tolerate racial bigotry. “If that person doesn’t accept us for who we are, then that is their problem. We wouldn’t have that person in our lives if they are not open-minded,” says John.

Paige believes that society is becoming more tolerant. “Our generation is definitely much more open-minded to our type of relationship as opposed to 20 years ago.” Living in a culturally diverse city like Vancouver, they have not experienced any disapproval. As John explains, “Maybe if we lived in a place where there isn’t any cultural diversity, we might face bigger problems.”

Valerie Jackson and her husband Javier Carranza are also involved in a biracial relationship. They met while travelling in Spain. Valerie is Chinese-Canadian and Javier is Argentinean. Their son Max is two-and-a-half years old. His parents strive to enrich his life with their multicultural heritage. Valerie says, “We speak Spanish to Max while our baby-sitter and my father speaks English to him.” Max learns of his Chinese Canadian heritage from Valerie, while Javier teaches his son “to understand his Argentinean heritage.”

Like John and Paige, Valerie and Javier agree that race issues do not interfere with their relationship. “I tell people that she is Canadian and if pressed further I say she is Chinese,” Javier explains. Their families accept the relationship with open arms—the fact that he actually got married was more of a surprise.

To John, Paige, Valerie, and Javier, the advantages of sharing diverse ideals and values are more important than racial differences. Race simply doesn’t matter. As explained by another biracial couple, Sonja Winks and Harvey Leong, “The only difference between biracial relationships and another relationship is looks. That’s it.” Sonja adds, “You never realize you’re in a biracial relationship until somebody points it out to you.”