CULTURE

4 Ways to Support Couples in Interracial Relationships

4 Ways Support Couples in Interracial Relationships

If you’re reading this article, you probably have a family member, friend or co-worker that’s in an interracial relationship. You’ve seen them struggling with negative criticism and you want to do your best to respect them and show them how much you care. Bravo! You’ve already taken the first step by reading this article.

Below is a list of tips that can help you to continue as a positive influence in their life.

#1 – Provide encouragement

Remember, couples in interracial relationships often deal with a lot of negative responses from people. Anytime that you can say something positive about their relationship or give an encouraging word, it’s bound to be appreciated. Just reaching out to make a kind comment or participate in something you know they love is a good start to being a strong and emotionally supportive ally to this couple. Whether it be your attempt to speak a few words in a new language or having a latte at the mall, all these little actions add up to them knowing that you care. Sometimes, it may seem like they should already know…but when their spirits are dashed and doubts are high, a little reassurance can go a long way.

#2 – Get involved

One thing that’s unavoidable is having some understanding (at least the basics) of the culture, language, religion and stereotypes in question. This doesn’t mean learning a whole language or attending every cultural event in town (although that’s great!). But when opportunities to get involved present themselves, use them to learn something new. You can get to know a lot about a new culture by participating in some common events. Attend a special religious service (i.e. baptism, wedding, holiday), attend cultural diversity events, eat new foods and ask questions about how their made, etc. The more you explore, the more comfortable you will become.

#3 – Be considerate

Because of the negative reactions that many interracial couples encounter, your friends might be hyper aware of your words and actions. Think before you speak and be considerate of their feelings first. Before referring to someone by a generalized term, like “Hispanic” or “Arab”, ask them how they’d like to be addressed.  If you’re not comfortable asking, watch to see how they identify themselves. Try not to make broad assumptions or say things that could be offensive. Your thoughtfulness will put couples at ease and cultivate more open conversations.

#4 –Speak up

When you hear racist jokes, slurs or other negative comments, take a stand against that behavior…EVERY TIME. If you’re not comfortable calling someone out directly, try a different approach.  A disproving face or polite comment can go a long way in discouraging questionable or derogatory statements. In times where tensions are high and your thoughts might not be well received, walking away with a simple…”excuse me” can help. When needed, use actions like a bathroom break or making a drink to exit yourself from the conversation and avoid those aggressive or uncomfortable confrontations. Over time, people will get the point that you’re not interested in participating in any dialog that degrades the couple or other races and ethnicities.

This post was previously featured on NewsTaco.

This post was originally published on Jan 10, 2011.

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