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hen Sabeena Shah brought Joe Hubbard home to her parents, they knew she was serious. But they had questions. Would Hubbard fit into their Pakistani American extended family? Would he be able to fully embrace Islam? Shah’s father told Hubbard it wouldn’t work.

This was ironic—primarily because, Shah’s mother, a white American, expressed some of the same ambivalence that her father did. “It was definitely a double standard,” says Shah. “After marriage, my mother had adapted herself to my dad’s culture, religion, language. They said that people like my mother were few and far between.” Hubbard’s family were well established Swedish Americans in the Chicago area and very active in the Lutheran church. “His grandmother had always said he should find a nice Lutheran girl for himself,” says Shah.

Sabeena and Joe.

While Shah’s might not be the typical South Asian American family, the reactions to her interracial relationship aren’t that surprising, given that interracial marriage is a fairly new phenomenon. Marrying outside one’s race in the United States was forbidden by miscegenation laws till as recently as 1967, even as furtive interracial marriages had been occurring as early as the late 1600s (Mary Fisher, born to an Indian father and an Irish mother, is considered the first biracial American desi—see the sidebar). Ever since the archaic laws were struck down, one thing seems obvious—interracial marriages have exploded, a fact confirmed by the 2000 U.S. census.

That census was unique in the fact that—for the first time—respondents could choose more than one race to identify themselves with. The results? 11.9 million people consider themselves Asian Americans; 10.2 million of them see themselves as Asian only; but a whopping 1.7 million reported that they are part Asian; that is, mixed. And among all Asians, Chinese, Filipino, Korean and Indian Americans were most likely to consider themselves as having mixed racial origins. Another interesting fact: Among Asians, Indian American males were most likely to marry black women, and Indian American females were most likely to marry within their own race.

The First American Desi

Historically, South Asian cultures have had plenty of experiences with interracial marriages. From Alexander the Great who married the Persian princess Roxanne to the Portuguese settlers in Goa, India, who were encouraged by their government to marry into the local populace, there are several examples in South Asian history to show for racial mixing. Records show Sikh workers emigrating to the U.S. in the early part of the 20th century also married Mexican or African American women.

But who was the first biracial American of desi origin? Research by Francis C. Assisi reveals that the first Indian American was possibly Mary Fisher, born in 1680 to an Indian father and an Irish mother. Miscegenation laws at the time dictated that Fisher be classified and sold as a slave. She later married an African American, and her descendants have been identified as African Americans. Present day descendants live in Anne Arundel County, Maryland.

Those are the statistics the census reveals; contrast that with how interracial marriage fares in pop culture. Susan Koshy, in her book Sexual Naturalization: Asian Americans and Miscegenation, explores how “Asian woman” equaled “model sexual minority” in both film and literature. A common trope in South Asian American cinema has been the successful pairing of an Asian woman and a white man. Bend it Like Beckham, Bride and Prejudice and Mistress of Spices (based on Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s book of the same name), all exemplify this trend. Compare that to the way Asian men are portrayed: University of Massachusetts’ sociology professor C.N. Le explains, “Asian men are popularly portrayed as weak, effeminate and/or asexual which serves to make them less attractive to both Asian and white women.”

Mohanalakshmi and David.

And anecdotal evidence seems to show that while East Asians value assimilation to a higher extent—leading more women from those cultures to marry outside their own race—the same is not true for women from the Subcontinent. Take the case of Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar, who moved to the U.S. as a child. She recalls the subtle ways in which her father would bring up the idea of difference. “He would say, in America, the divorce rates are so high, they have no sense of family. Growing up I saw my friends’ parents—Americans who were married to each other for 20 to 30 years, the same as my parents. I understood what my father was saying, but I still saw the other side of the picture.”

And while her parents were aware of her white American college boyfriend, that relationship didn’t work out. So the parents of then-26 Rajakumar began to panic. They set her up on date after date with Indian men. Eventually, her father even asked if he could put out a matrimonial ad. Laughing, Rajakumar says, “I said if I have to go through it, it better be something I write.” So she wrote her own—even then, nothing quite worked out. When she got a job abroad in the Qatar campus of Georgetown University, she was ready to move beyond the whole marriage scene. That’s when she met David Phongsavan, a Thai American who was also working at the university. This relationship did work out, and Rajakumar remarks that their families were glad that they had both found mates with Asian values such as respect for family, tradition and elders. She adds, “The fact that both families are immigrants makes for common ground and understanding.”

Menaka and Alex.

This commonality was also an important factor for Menaka Sanwal’s family accepting her fiancé Alex Chang. “His family was also extremely happy that their son had met someone he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. I married a Taiwanese guy who came from a similar background as myself, which is why it was so easy for us.”

Professor Le thinks that many more will join Rajkumar and Sanwal. On his Asian Nation Web site, Le predicts that mixed Asian marriages (Asian married to another Asian outside his/her own endogamous group) will be on the rise in the next few years.

Shabana Mir had always assumed she would marry a desi. But, Mir adds, only half-jokingly, that desi men wouldn’t be able to handle her. Mir met Svend White at an Islamic conference where they were both presenting papers. But in spite of a shared faith, Mir’s family was ambivalent. “They weren’t sure how much he was a Muslim ‘like us’,” she says, though White had been raised Muslim from birth. Ambivalence turned to opposition—but after meeting him, they finally came around.

Racism in South Asian communities also plays a part in opposition. Nisha Kutty, a New York-based fashion photographer, married African American Al-Khabir Richman. And sometimes, when she’s meeting “the more traditional Indians,” she won’t mention that she lives in Brooklyn—or that her husband is black. “Most of the time, their question is why. They’re horrified—they can’t understand why I would have married a black man.”

Shabana, Svend and baby makes three.

But it’s not just American-born desis who marry outside of their race. Hema Ganapathy, an adjunct professor of child psychology at the University of Indiana, has been married to Kevin Coleman since 2004. The couple met in Baltimore, where Coleman was working on his master’s degree; Ganapathy on her doctorate. She had moved to the US a couple of years before with her 4-year-old daughter after separating from her first husband. But “being with Kevin never felt like I was with an American,” says Ganapathy. Coleman had served overseas in the Peace Corps and “was very respectful. He knew not to hug or be over friendly. It progressed very naturally.” Still, their families were concerned—how would never-married Coleman go from being a student to a stepfather? But in some ways, being a divorcée helped Ganapathy: “There is a sense that you can make up the rules as you go along, because they didn’t really work the first time around.”

Interracial couples don’t just have to deal with the pressures that every relationship faces—they also have to deal with how the world perceives them. As Ganapathy explains, more challenges stem “from outside our relationship than frictions between us as a couple. Society is still not conditioned to seeing a white man and an Indian woman. Several times when we go out, people just assume we have come separately. At the grocery store, I might be in the check-out line and Kevin right behind me, but the clerk will try to bill us separately. We have to point out that no, we’re together, it’s one single bill.” Mir states candidly that she is tired of being the poster child for interracial harmony. Like most other couples, Mir and White have their arguments—such as a Ramadan tiff about where to eat.

There are smaller problems, as well: Mir misses the fact that she cannot share her Urdu literary heritage with White. He, on the other hand, gets ornery when dealing with the typical demands and pressures that come bundled with desi relationships. And that’s a sentiment echoed by Nicole Markley Bagchi.

The Ohio high school teacher met husband Gautam Bagchi through her brother. And while race wasn’t a big deal, the concept of family was: “His family is huge. Any adult who happens to be a friend is revered as an aunt or uncle who requires a visit whenever he goes within 100 miles of that person’s house,” jokes Nicole. “My family is simply not that close.” And as Sabeena Shah explains, in Asian cultures, marriage is between families. That need to respect elders’ requests led her and Hubbard to have an additional church ceremony for his grandparents’ sake, almost a year after their nikah.

While interracial marriages among desis are often fraught with unique problems, they don’t seem to be much different from most relationships in general. And then, there are always the perks of being in a blended marriage. “It’s good for me to see the comfort and love a truly loving, accepting family like Gautam’s can provide,” says Bagchi. “They are more affectionate and loving toward me than my own extended family in many cases, and I know when we have children they will grow up with a solid understanding of what family is.”n

Married to an Indian Catholic, Priya Ramachandran knows first-hand the pains and pleasures of marrying outside one’s culture. She lives in Maryland with her daughter and husband.
Published on June 18, 2007.
Photography: Header left to right: Menaka Sanwal, Gautam Bagchi and Sabeena Shah.

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  1. June 18, 2007, 11:52 am M. Bandari

    Nice article. One key aspect of an inter-racial marriage is for the husband and wife to master a technique to handle social pressures, (which are enormous) in such a manner that it does not create a dent in the marital bliss.

  2. June 20, 2007, 10:11 am Francis C. Assisi

    For pictures of the descendants of the earliest Desi Americans, see my article in this month’s issue of SPAN from the US Embassy in Delhi.


  3. June 22, 2007, 3:26 pm Nirmala

    thanks for this article. i’ll be marrying a white man myself in september, and though our families are super-supportive, i’ve definitely felt a lot of opposition from my larger south asian community. i think it’s interesting how your article noted that certain similarities between cultures that surpass race and ehtnicity can make parents more accepting of the match. i think that’s definitely true, but my match is definitely one that resounds on a deep individual level. hopefully, all families (desi and non-desi) will get to a point when they can accept a match not just for cultural similarities, but also for the differences.

    i also appreciated the subtle points the article made about how racism can affect one’s relationship. i still find it really sad when so many south asian parents i know openly make racist comments about african americans, and how interracial relationships with african americans are seen as abominable in way that those with whites are not.

  4. June 24, 2007, 8:24 pm K Carter

    I agree totally with the previous post. I am married to a wonderful man who has african american descent. My parents finally accepted our marriage after a couple of years but still they are so afraid of the social acceptance of the desi. They are still hiding us as a couple to some of the families. I want to go and visit one day and take my kids to the land of our ancesters but there is one part of me that does not know if this is a good idea. Well time will tell…

  5. July 12, 2007, 4:52 pm Irving

    Great article 🙂 Love is indeed colorless.

    Ya Haqq!

  6. August 8, 2007, 11:48 pm Salacious Samosa

    I loved this article. Well done. You have generated so much awareness, for something that needs to be spoken up about. It can be so tough for mixed couples, and your articles just make the struggle a little easier.


  7. August 29, 2007, 7:49 pm Bliss

    Well written article! I appreciate how the author allowed the couples’ anecdotes and the facts to speak for themselves. As an African American woman in an LTR with an Indian man, we both are extremely aware of the potential challenges we could face if we were to marry (particularly from our families). It definitely makes us think twice about what that means for our future. together I must say I admire those couples who are able to let their love bravely lead them forward.

  8. September 6, 2007, 3:07 pm Dahlia

    Hi, I have a question for anyone who’d like to chime in. I’m from a half jewish/half norwegian background and recently got engaged to a Muslim South Asian Man. Although he is not practising, his parents asked us to sign the Nikah before moving in together. This despite the fact that we’re not planning to marry for a couple of years (I’m still in school). I went ahead with it thinking that it was, as my fiancee put it, an “engagement ceremony” indicating our intent to marry. But all I read is that the Nikah is a marriage ceremony. Help! In this hybrid relationship what were we doing by separating the Nikah from the “bigger” wedding ceremony. Am I married?


  9. September 6, 2007, 5:38 pm JG

    I am Indian and my boyfriend is Mexican and when I broke the news to my parents all hell broke loose!! They want me to dump him and find a “nice Indian boy” who is an “engineer or doctor.” I am so sick of the superficiality Indian people assign to love and marriage. My boyfriend and I have SO MUCH in common and we are so happy together…it will be 3 years in December since we got together…but all of that doesn’t matter. What matters, from my parent’s point of view, is what the community will say or think or what other family members will say…I will have totally embarrassed them and ruined their reputation and of course they are threatening to disown me. I admit, all of this is VERY stressful and sometimes I second guess what I am doing…not that I second guess my relationship but what my parents are saying about how it will effect them. The guilt is endless sometimes, and I have so many emotionally breakdowns that I don’t how I am going to go through with this…but at the end of the day I have such an awesome person in my life that I don’t know what I would without him. It has been a bottomless pit of emotions…I am very close to my family and have found some who I want to share the rest of my life with, if only my parents can see the type of person he is…see him as I see him. By “American” standards our parents would love us…both of us are educated and in good careers but according to my family I am a complete failure if I marry him. Is it difficult? Of course! Is it worth it? Hell yeah!! To find someone that loves and respects you is hard to come by these days. Of course sometimes the things you want most in life are the ones worth fighting for and are usually the most difficult to achieve.

  10. October 14, 2007, 1:39 pm GSH

    Hi- Great article–much needed!!

    I am desi and my girlfriend is Chinese. Has anyone come across anything like an online community or may a blog etc for communication and support among Indian-Chinese couples? Thanks,


  11. October 17, 2007, 5:24 pm IZK

    Message for G
    I am in a similar relationship to you G. I am a muslim south asian woman and in a long term relationship with my chinese boyfriend. He is the most amazing person, who knows and understands me better than i understand myself. He loves me so completly and i do too and we really feel like we are soulmates as cliched as that sounds. But the sad situation is that he will never be accepted by my family under any circumstances, so the burden of choice is on my shoulders….do i pick the love of my life or my family. Does anyone have any experiences of being in this situation?I feel so happy to be in love but at the same time so sad over the decision i will have to make…it breaks my heart….when will the world change?when will people be seen as people?


  12. October 19, 2007, 1:21 am paul holland

    “when the power of love becomes stronger than the love of power”

    – only then will the world know peace

    -Jimi Hendrix, 1970

  13. October 21, 2007, 4:08 pm RB

    Thank you for this article; it gave me hope! I am a white American woman in a serious relationship with an Indian man. Even though I have lived for many years in South Asia, there are still a lot things to learn about our respective cultures. However, one of the things that really attracted to my boyfriend is his family values, strong spirtuality and his pride in his culture. As so many people have pointed out, there is still a long way to go in terms of people’s acceptance. Even here in the U.S., other South Asian people stare at us. We would like to move back to India someday and it worries me if people there will be able to accept/respect me.

  14. October 25, 2007, 6:59 pm Ash

    This is a very interesting article and I can relate to it because I am in a similar “mixed” relationship. I wanted to also give my two-cents to those who are contemplating breaking the news to their parents or worrying about the future – Think Hard and Rational! It is very difficult to adjust in families when they are both against the marriage and are not living in the same cities. When families cannot interact with each other before the marriage and when you do not get enough time to experience the other culture first hand before the marriage, it will come as a bitter surprise after the marriage. Everything in my relationship was fine and I loved my boyfriend then and husband now so very much! That was past and today is reality. I ended up hurting my family thinking I am doing the right thing but why did I forget that my parents knew me the best? If you have spent enough time with each other before the marriage and brought your families closer then yes… go ahead but if you think everything will change after marriage trust me it will but only going down-hill. First years or marriage are hard on the couple because the two are beginning to understand each other from a different dimension and once you add the imbalance of family … equilibrium is impossible to achieve.

  15. November 4, 2007, 10:40 am 13

    I thought this article was good. But I was a bit disappointed that you did not display pictures of a desi female with a black man or vice versa as I am in a realtionship with a black man.And why just with asian or white men with desi women or vice versa ??? Because its just shows what a big sterotype is with black people and it is very sad and heart-breaking.. I think its unfortunate that such sterotypes exist in this world, but of course that is reality. It is difficult when desi parents just don’t get it….what makes desi immigrants any better than black people….its not like black people were given equal rights and opportunity as the whites in the US. Desi’s came as immigrants….not as slaves….but are of a different race… is brown and one is black…..
    I think people, especially desi society make a big deal when it can be not a big deal….they just need to open their eyes and to stop worrying what society/community will say and see one’s happiness I see both sides of the picture…everyones situation is different…..
    Its just sad.

  16. November 26, 2007, 8:22 pm Sara

    This message is for Dahlia…

    Dahlia, it’s very common for South Asians, specifically Pakistanis, to do what your in-laws have done. What you have done, the nikkah, is Islamically recognized as a marriage. However, in our culture, there is another thing, called “rukhsati”..that’s hwen the girl leaves her home and goes to her new home, i.e., when the couple begins to live together. A couple can be married Islamically, but not living together, so the families will treat it as if they are engaged. The reason its also known as an “engagement” period is b/c in Islam, there is no such thing as an engagement, in the sense that a couple can freely talk and meet without having any legal binding. So, when parents realize that their child is serious abt their gf/bf, but not necessarily ready to take on the responsibilities of living together, they want to “legalize” it as soon as they can, so they can know each other better in a legal way. So, technically (according to Islam) you may be married, which means you have certain rights legally and religiously, even though you’re not ready to live together yet. I hope this clears it up…..

  17. December 3, 2007, 12:20 am Michael

    I am a white guy in a relationship with a pakistani girl. We get along so great and i love her more then anything in the world.
    I have fought my parents for her and they do like her the reason being when i told them why they couldn’t belive how much i felt about her. However i have this problem her father, sister and brother are not accepting of us and tell her that it will never work out because my girlfriends family has said that it can’t work. She is scared to be dishoned. Her parents don’t want to meet me I am well off and well educated and treat her very well better then her sister who had an arranged marriage is treated by her husband.
    Since her parents are trying to hook her up with someone in pakistan we live in canada i know these things happen in indian families. This girl i want to marry!Should i introduce myself to her parents even though they don’t want to see me I reallly want to meet them and would love to be a part of their family. I haven’t met them yet or her family because they don’t want to see me.
    i am a little stumped as to what i can do, she is caught in the middle and doesn’t want to have her parents disown her we have discussed breaking up but i don’t want it she knows it. She doesn’t want it either but doesn’t know how to deal with her parents who are not understanding.

    Can i get some advice or insight how i can handle this.

  18. December 17, 2007, 9:55 pm SMughal

    I’m an African American woman married to a Pakistani man. We have been married for alomst 5 years now. At first I was very afraid to meet his parents, but he assured me that they were accepting and loving. When I fianlly met them, it was true, I felt very comfortable and welcomed by them. He had no problems with my family either and I knew he wouldn’t. As for the stares, we get them occasionally, but that doen’t bother us in the least. It’s not as serious as people make it seem. Though i rarely find this kind of union, I love our relationship. I can think of no words to describe how much I love my husband and his race has nothing to do with that. i love him for the person he is. God made us all and I find it extremely difficult to understand how one can think he/she is better than another based on race, religion, nationality, etc. I guess it’s not for me to understand. I see people as people and not what color they are. People here seem to be on the same page as me or else maybe you couldn’t feel love for anyone of a different race. I’m just saying how I feel. This world will never be perfect because there are still too many people who don’t know or believe that God made us all and we are all equals.

  19. January 8, 2008, 12:24 pm Lia

    For Alex and Maneka:

    Your story is a great inspiration to me. I am in a similar situation and would like to contact you personally if possible for advice or insight.

    Thank you.

  20. January 18, 2008, 5:03 pm roger dodger

    well to be honest we know the truth, the only way to get ahead in this world is to marry someone outside your race. have you seen a power couple of indian origin in the states of the same indian background not yet. the truth of the matter is that these people knew there careers would get ahead and they also looked down on the own sex counterparts. i think it is a shame that we can’t be happy to marry our own kind and at the same time not be disadvantaged careerwise and socially wise. i am sure if you really look at the matter you get ahead by marrying white when most of corporate culture is dominated by their kind. hell the fobs make it worse careerwise. they ante up the stakes at work and the indo americans start look like they were spoon fed all their lives. well i guess this is the conquer and divide. if you marry indian expect your future generations to end up in the ghetto. if you marry white expect your kids to marry another white person. did they mention anything about the dissolution of our religous heritage by marrying outside. of course oh yeah i remember you probably have great disdain as an indian with that as well.

  21. February 8, 2008, 10:19 pm CMP

    I am a white woman and I love my Desi man! Thank you so much for this article.

  22. February 11, 2008, 3:33 pm Raj

    About twenty five year ago, at a campus of a midwestern university, a Hindu light skinned-dark skinned Indian couple from Singapore was sitting in the mall during lunch hour. The woman, a Sindi looked like an American white woman with dark hair and her husband, a dark skinned Tamil almost looked African American. A preacher who was as usual giving his sermon in the mall that summer day in 1984. pointed to them and said that God looked down on such marriages. A few days later they started getting death threats and people were yelling insults at them on the street thinking they were a black-white couple. Their daughter was beaten up once. They left the US never to return again. A lot of things have changed since that time. But, some areas of the country dont change. If you are an Asian-white couple in places like Littleton, Colorado, you will have problems.

  23. February 21, 2008, 10:57 am Manish

    Interesting feature in the pictures..lighter the Indian he or she is married to a white. Darker the Indian, he or she is married to Chinese or other non-whites.

  24. March 3, 2008, 12:33 pm Priya Ramachandran

    Hello all and thanks for your feedback. It was great to read about your individual takes on inter-racial relationships. To clarify something commenter 13 raised – the desi-African American couple interviewed for the story didn’t respond to our requests for photographs. It wasn’t an intentional oversight.

  25. March 10, 2008, 2:19 pm Savia Rajagopal

    Hi Priya

    This made such a fabulous read. Kudos for presenting such a sensitive issue so well. I landed here by mistake but you can be sure I’ll be back here by choice 🙂
    I’m a fellow journalist from India, now settled in Canada. I’d like to get in touch. Do visit my website for contact info.


  26. March 28, 2008, 3:03 pm R. Marie

    It was a delight to read this article. I am an African American woman in a committed relationship with a Pakistani-Indian man so it was very interesting to learn that among Asians, East Indian men are more likely to marry a black woman. The media portrays something a lot different…so that fact was quite surprising.

  27. June 2, 2008, 5:25 pm Arjan

    Why are most of the couples Indian women with other race men?

    From my experience its mostly Indian men married to white women.

  28. July 3, 2008, 1:40 pm Anita

    This is in response to JG:
    Wow! I can’t believe how similar this story is to mine. I was dating an African American guy and I felt exactly the same way. It didn’t work out for me though. We broke up because of my parents but I later realized he didn’t really get who I was. But while we were together (about 2 yrs) it was a living hell for me. I lost 15 lbs in 4 months during the worst part, just because I was too stressed out to worry about eating anything. They put the whole guilt trip and disowning thing on me and cried and even blamed me for having to take blood pressure medication! Ya, that’s how far this thing went. My Dad cried and said that my black kids will never enter his house, etc. (even though we weren’t at the marriage stage or anything). That whole thing made me so afraid to date again. I feel like they will force me to make a choice between any future BF and them. Although they have said I should find a guy and they’d be fine with a white or Indian guy, I can’t help freaking out about what kind of family explosion I might have to face. This kind of thing really messes people up and I think Indian parents should recognize that. I also don’t understand why they always seem to think their kids are trying to spite them by dating a non-Indian. They say “Why are you doing this to me?!” kind of like in MY Big Fat Greek Wedding. 🙂

  29. July 23, 2008, 9:25 am Sue Ellen Chohan

    Blindian Network

    The Blindian Network aka BNk is a tolerant population of diverse internet users that allows it’s members to openly express themselves, relating with others of varying backgrounds, in a relaxed environment.

    Established 2006 Blindian Network is the creation of a “Blindian” (Black and East Indian) couple. In the beginning of this relationship there was a lot to explain about the differing background of a  East Indian person. Why it wasn’t possible to see each other on a whim, our food, clothing, family values, traditions, culture, and the list goes on.

    In search of answers as well as trying to find a online community to share our excitement, frustration and questions there was a lot of online searching to see what resources were out there. On every turn we hit a brick wall, there wasn’t one united community, it was scattered and few and far in between. 

    The lack of resources together with the stereotypical view of people lead us to believe their is a volatile barrier which needs to be broken down we hoped we’d achieve the objective which was the determination to network, share and open peoples minds.

    This is when Blindian Network was formed, having found the word on Google, it made reference to people of Black and Native American ancestry. We decided it was then that we would use this word and mould it into it’s own meaning. 

    Blindian is more then someone of Black and Native American ancestry, it is 

    A person of Black and East Indian ancestry
    Relationships amongst  Black and East Indian/Native Indian people
    The struggle amongst people who wish to get along
    Issue’s that people face because of the decisions they’ve made
    The success stories of people who have prevailed regardless of all the animosity that has surrounded they’re interracial relationship. 

    Blindian Network’s diversity reaches further then Black and East Indian/Native Indian people, we realise people pursue relationships which encompass 

    Racial difficulties of all races Black, Indian and White
    People of differing religions of beliefs 
    People who are a different caste 

    All of which leads to a common ground, understanding, growth and perseverance to name a few.

    Blindian Network is also a community for people to come and learn. Learn about they’re partners culture, traditions, community, ask questions and also offer advice. 

    If you want to check it out yourself click here and see what we are about. 

  30. August 12, 2008, 2:21 pm Sonya

    This is in response to Anita and JG: I just went through the same damn thing. My boyfriend of about a year and a half is white and we’re really happy. Neither of us are thinking about marriage yet cause we both know there’s plenty of living for us to do first. Either way, trying to be an honest good daughter, I told my parents and of course, they reacted EXACTLY the same way (down to the blood pressure medication) They actually said that they don’t want to meet him, because they’re “sure he’s a good boy, but this is not about him…it’s about you”. According to them, I was the one doing something wrong…it doesn’t make sense but i’ve been going through the whole stress thing as well. I told them that i’d “take care of it” and that I didn’t want to talk about it anymore, and that’s helped them ease up a little and atleast stop the crying and blame game. I figure if i’m still serious about him in a few years when i’m ready to get married…I can bring it up again.

    Now i’m just trying not to think about it…which is a lot harder than it sounds. Started doing meditation and yoga, so i’m hoping that helps calm the nerves.

  31. August 14, 2008, 4:55 pm Faye

    I need some big-time advice!!! I’m a product of a bi-ethnic marriage. My father is from Turkey, my mother is corn-fed American. My father was disowned for several years because of this marriage. Ultimately, I was raised with both influences. My family in Turkey are pretty religeous however my father is not. As a teenager, I did end up adopting Islam as my faith.

    Now, as a 30 year old adult, I am engaged to a Muslim Pakistani man. He was born in Pakistan, raised in the U.S. since the age of 2. He loves his family, his culture, his faith but he wants to marry for love. He wants his family to be happy but he wants to be happy as well and the kind of woman his parents want him to marry is far from what he looks for in a woman. He went in search for that perfect woman — a modern non-hijab wearing muslim, someone who’s independant & educated yet contains all the family values he was raised with — and he found me!

    And I was looking for him — a modern muslim man with family values and loyalty. He is my soul-mate in everyway.

    Here’s the problem. He thought things would be great all around because he found himself a Muslim woman with Middle Eastern background. But things are far from great.

    His parents are very sweet to me and they like me very much as a person — but to them, I am not a match for their son. Below are specifically the reasons why:

    1) I am one year older than he is. I should be at least 5 years younger, else how will I respect him?
    2) I come from a broken family, my parents split when I was 3. I am most likely to attempt divorce with their son.
    3) I am not Pakistani. I cannot cook or clean like a Pakistani woman can at this point (never mind the fact that I’m not an idiot & these things are easily learned) and I will ultimately end up starving their son and subjecting him to live in a dirty pit.
    4) My family is very spread out. My Turkish family live in Turkey still. My father lives 4 hours away from me, my mother lives in a remote island in Washington. This means I will end up taking their son away from them, making him turn his back on them and from Islam.
    5) My father is a non-practicing muslim therefore I am too.
    6)They should have already known my parents for several years before we reach this stage. They met my mother only once, my sister only once, my father they will meet in a couple of weeks.

    All of this has resulted into some major turmoil for my fiance. He chose me because he thought he would avoid much of this type of conflict. He knew there would be SOME conflict but did not expect it to the degree that is has become. He chose me because he did not want to go through this and here he is ….. going through it.

    I feel very secure with his feelings for me, I know they are real and true. But I am feeling insecure in this wedding business, I am fearful his parents are breaking him down. He is so happy with me when we are together but so unhappy around his parents. I feel ultimately he is close to giving up on us and giving them what they want and marry whoever they want him to marry.

    In his defence, he did try to marry a woman of his mother’s choice — a Pakistani-American and long time family friend. They dated for 3 years. His mother was happy with the match at first but ended up not liking her either. The minute they broke up though, she wanted them back together. She did not even know about me yet. She just wanted them back together!

    His parents are not outright saying they hate me and their actions show that they are supportive of us. They help with the wedding plans, they take me to get fitted for shalwar kameez and lehenga choli, they help with the wedding invitations, etc. But underneath they are very unhappy and they continuously fight and nit-pick with my fiance. Every single night for him is a night of rage, guilt, unhappiness. He does not get any sleep. He is breaking down.

    We have 2 months before we marry. Is there anything I can do to help with this situation? There is nothing but negativity surrounding him. I know his parents like me but they are unsure of me. I feel that only time can express to them the type of person that I really am. I want to be a part of their family. My Turkish culture has many similarities and I am a muslim! Yet I cannot show them these things with my family so far away. We are in our 30’s and are eager to start our lives together, we want to raise a family. I am too old to wait 5 years before they finally agree to us. We both have had enough experiences in our lives to know that we are good for each other. We just need his parents on the same page.

    Sorry for the long story but any advice? Anyone?

  32. August 16, 2008, 2:59 pm Sofia


    I’m sorry, but your comment brought out the lulz.

    Yes, Islamically speaking, you and your boyfriend are now considered married. Basically, his family want to make sure your fucking is Islamically sanctioned. If the boy’s family were Shiite, they would probably have told you two to have a Nikah al-Muta, which is a marriage contract valid for a specific/given period of time, subject to renewal/non-renewal. Nota Bene: Nikah al-Mutah is a VERY controversial practice and is not undertaken by ‘respectable’, ‘marriageable’ women. It’s generally employed by (some) widows and (most) prostitutes and is not spoken of openly, if at all.

    PS: There is no such thing as a ‘Non-practicing’ Muslim. In that particular religion, it doesn’t exist. Islam is a religion, not a culture, therefore while a non-practicing Jew is still a Jew, a ‘non-practicing’ Muslim (as you put it) is simply considered a ‘kafir’ or apostate.

  33. August 16, 2008, 3:14 pm Sofia


    This really seems to be a cultural/racial issue. If you are indeed a pious and devout Muslim, then standing in the way of your impending marriage to another Muslim would be basely un-Islamic. Your fiance’s parents should be happy/proud/relieved their son is marrying another Muslim. I’m not sure what sect you claim to follow, if any, but perhaps for the inlaws, this might be a sectarian issue as well? Some Muslims are very uppity/irrational when it comes to inter-sect unions.

    I’m guessing the biggest problem here is race (your mother’s in this case) and your prospective inlaws are simply refraining from vocalizing that.

    PS: Again, with the ‘non-practicing’ Muslim BS. Any ‘actual’ Muslim would know that there really is no such thing, as Islam is not a damn culture.

  34. August 16, 2008, 10:37 pm Hibba

    I am from Dubai and my boyfriend is a White American. Oddly enough we have not had objections from our imediate families about our relationship. However, his grandmother is racist and so are some of the family members from his mothers side. And even though I dont see them often it has caused strain on our relationship because it is hard for my boyfriend to understand why his grandmothers disgust for me just because of my race cannot be overlooked because she is old and set in her ways. Also recently I had to explain this to his sister and can’t seem to get her to understand either. Although I have gotten my boyfriend to understand my side, I have trouble making others understand why this is not acceptable and why i have every right to be mad at the grandmother.

  35. August 28, 2008, 4:20 pm Blindian Network

    Blindian Network is a website created by an Afro Caribbean male and East Indian female who are in an interacial relationship.

    The website is designed for people of varying backgrounds to make friends and break down social stereotypes.

  36. September 18, 2008, 10:20 pm Raj

    “have you seen a power couple of indian origin in the states of the same indian background not yet.”

    Have you heard of Bobby Jindal and his wife, the governor of Louisiana. Both of them are of Indian origin.

  37. September 23, 2008, 9:50 pm Miss S

    Hey what an very interesting article this is, I came across it when I was searching on Google Images for ”Marriage Pictures”. I myself am British Indian, from London. Me & ”The potential Partner” have been best friends for 5 & half years, he is also Indian, our families know we are ”friends & in each others lives”. We feel now is the time to let everybody know how serious we are about each other. We started off as friends then fell in love, after all these years of trying to deny this-we have been realised were ment to be. The problem here would lie in the grandparents, other family members, the community, my roots are North India, His are West India.

    Its pathetic that in 2008 People still go on about the whole caste thing, My family are Sikh, His are Hindu. I simply dont see the problem, who cares, he is still Indian! My mum & her mother have always wanted us to get married. All of my Mothers side have met him, love & adore him, The problem may just be my father & his side of the family.

    The way i see it is, they have All lived ther life, why not let us live our lives, support us, dont parents want ther kids to be happy, instead they use emotional blackmail, threats against ther children.

    This guy is wonderful, very sweet loyal genuwine kind loving. A very good guy, we are both in our mid 20s. We feel time cant be wasted anymore & both just want to be together & make the commitment to each other.

  38. September 25, 2008, 8:39 pm jw

    Hibba, if your boyfriend can’t see what is wrong, then, he will not be able to stand up to those who are racist. Unfortunately, I must say that he probably feels some of these same feelings: when you are not around. Just because someone is in an interracial relationship does not mean that they can’t/don’t hold racist stereotypes in their mind. He might just see you as “The acception” to all of the stereotypes. As if: most are, but he is dating the acception to the rule. If he can’t stand up to people and route out racism in his family: he won’t be able to do it when you are married or if you ever have children.

  39. October 9, 2008, 1:51 pm Oreo

    These sort of articles are always amazing to me. I know people want to preserve their culture, but the blatant racism among parents is amazing sometimes. I know many desis can attest to the “BMW” rule for whom you can’t date (black, muslim white–in the order of worst being first). It’s ridiculous. My mother, who is clearly hot for Denzel would still be horrified if I showed up with him…insane!

    I’ve only been in interracial relationships mainly because I grew up and live in America. I don’t even have that many Indian friends since they call me “white girl.” It seems to me that there’s more of a stigma with Asians than with white people. It’s only the Indians that hate on me for dating a “white” guy. I say that because the current guy I’m dating is a mutt. He looks white (or Lebanese to some people), but in fact only his father is white. His mother is Jamaican and Indian. He is more “Indian” than most Indian men I know, and that’s BEFORE he met me. Our families fully accept and love us both. However, when I mention to my mother that there will be full-blooded black people at our wedding she gets really nervous! I have to laugh because his black family is WAY more educated than half of my Indian family. Why are parents so unreasonable?!

  40. October 10, 2008, 7:01 pm Miss S

    Hi Everybody, We Have Decided We Are Definelty Going To Get Married, ~Love Is Stronger Than Pride~ As Sade Put In Her Song x x x x

  41. October 18, 2008, 9:55 pm Allison

    You guys must visit a place called Trinidad (southern Caribbean) or Guyana to see the high rate of marriages between Indians and Africans. Also there is a lot of inter-marrying between Asians and Indians or in some cases Africans. Take a look. What is new to you folks is old news in some parts of the world.
    Check out these places.

  42. November 11, 2008, 1:01 am T W

    First off, thank you so much for this amazing article…its helped me a lot. I am a white catholic girl from the Midwest of the US and I am ridiculously in love with a East Indian man who is only here on a work visa. I am really afraid he is going to leave me if his parents ask him too even though he tells me he loves me. What should I do! Help!

  43. November 11, 2008, 1:02 am T W

    First off, thank you so much for this amazing article…its helped me a lot. I am a white catholic girl from the Midwest of the US and I am ridiculously in love with a East Indian Hindu man who is only here on a work visa. I am really afraid he is going to leave me if his parents ask him too even though he tells me he loves me. What should I do! Help!

  44. January 19, 2009, 9:47 am Bluebonn

    Intercultural marriages are not always easy – especially if one of the spouses gives up their country, culture, family, friends, and career to move to a new country to start a new life. I did this a few years ago and have never regretted it – despite the difficuly.

    I have a website that focuses on transplanted women who move under these circumstances. Please visit at and pop by the forum – lots of advice and encouragement!

  45. February 9, 2009, 7:55 pm dionne

    Wonderful article. I’m a white American woman (Christian background) and my significant other is a Pakistani man (Muslim background). We are very happy together and very much in love! My family is a little more hesitant to accept our relationship than is his family.

  46. March 13, 2009, 7:16 am Blindian Network

    The inspiration for Blindian Network started in 2006 when my partner and I read a book called The Last Taboo by Bali Rai. The basis of the story was about a young British Asian girl named Simran who fell for Tyrone. But there was one big problem… Tyrone was black.

    As a black Afro Caribbean male it never dawned on me that the relationship I was in with a British Asian woman could spark so much controversy with members of the Asian commuity.

    Another obstacle to over come was that there was a huge lack of resources on the Internet for people in black and Asian interracial relationships.

    So experiencing both the highs and lows of our personal choice to be together my partner and I created Blindian Network… an online community where people from both black and Asian cultures could not only share simular experiences with ourselves but with the rest of the world.

  47. June 21, 2009, 11:59 pm FARHAT

    shabana mir nice to see u

  48. August 28, 2009, 9:13 pm Alex

    It was great to hear the stories of all these people and their struggles and successes. I myself am White (born and raised in Europe) and dated an Indian guy for about a year and a half. Unfortunately we broke up a few months ago. Although race and my family’s unwillingness to accept him was not the only reason we broke up, it definitely played a big role. I felt a lot of pressure from my family to end the relationship (blood-pressure medication guilt trip and all) and although we didn’t openly talk about the issue often it was always in the back of our minds, mine especially. It is an unbearable task to have to choose between love and your family but I strongly urge all of you to fight for what you believe in and don’t give up if you truly love your partner. We’ve both been having a very hard time letting go of our relationship and the feelings are still there. But the reality is if there are conflicting thoughts in your mind the relationship will not go anywhere. You have to look deep inside and look at all the aspects of a relationship/marriage and life together before you can make a decision that you can stand by 100%.