What are your thoughts on mixed-race marriages and kids?

My question has nothing to do with money. Instead, it’s about race. I noticed that you are Chinese-American and your wife is Caucasian. Lately, I’ve been hearing children of mixed race marriages refer to themselves as “mutts.” Now, I’m not trying to get into a rant about racism or engage in a long, windy discussion of society’s prejudices, etc. I just want to know the practical realities of how parents deal with this when their kids get asked, “what are you” and “what fraction of this and that are you.” I’m directing these questions to you because I particularly value your objective thinking and honesty. (Your approachability even when loaded with Ivy League degrees will eventually pay off as huge political capital, I guarantee it.) I absolutely hate it when someone acts like they need to turn to a preacher and scold people for talking about the real things in their lives. I know you fell in love with your wife, but did you ever want to marry a Chinese woman to have Chinese children? Did the fact that you were going to have mixed kids instead ever cross your mind?

I’ve been noticing these so called “mutts” are now days using these issues to publish books, get on Oprah, etc. Once again, I’m not trying to initiate a conversation about how they are victimized by racism. But when mixed raced children start talking about their racial “halves” and such and such, I get curious about what their parents think.

–Andie

The Harvard MBA says:

Thanks for the very thoughtful question. I do my best to answer the sensitive questions because I think that there are too few people doing the same.  There are plenty of places to get answers to the easy questions!

And besides, how many other blogs provide expert (and not-so-expert) opinions on business school admissions, investing, interracial relationships, and getting into the adult film industry?

Did you ever want to marry a Chinese woman to have Chinese children?

1) For whatever reason, my taste has always run to buxom brunettes with dark skin and curly hair.  So I knew from a  young age that I was unlikely to marry a Chinese girl.

Did the fact that you were going to have mixed kids instead ever cross your mind?

2) The idea of having mixed race children always appealed to me–behold the power of hybridization!

I just want to know the practical realities of how parents deal with this when their kids get asked, “what are you” and “what fraction of this and that are you.”

3) We tell the children that they are half Puerto Rican and half Chinese.  To which my daughter Marissa quickly responded: “I’m half Puerto Rican and half Chinese.  I’m a masterpiece!”  No worries about her psychology there!

I will note that my own experiences are influenced by the fact that we live in Palo Alto/Silicon Valley, where half-Asian children probably make up some 15% of the kids in the schools these days.  (Of course, most of these marriages involve an Asian wife and a Caucasian husband) No one bats an eye.

Things would be different if we were living in Puerto Rico.  When I went there on vacation to meet my wife’s family, people stared at us wherever we went.  For many people, I think I was the first Chinese person they had seen.  We only saw two other Chinese people the entire time we were in Puerto Rico, and both worked in the same store.  They stared more than anyone!  They also offered me some darn good prices on their merchandise.

The same applied when my wife and I went to China–she was followed by crowds who had never seen curly hair, and they all assumed I was her guide.

The bottom line is that I think the world is changing for the better.  Interracial couples and kids aren’t that unusual any more.  But as William Gibson said, the future is already here–it’s just unevenly distributed.  Some areas will be more mixed-race friendly than others.

2 Comments

  1. Paul
    Posted March 24, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    It’s also interesting to be a mixed-race gay couple. I’m caucasion, my husband is Filipino. When we were in the Philippines last fall, everybody assumed he was the Kept Man. The truth is closer to the opposite! The other good thing about mixed-race straight couples is that they have, hands-down, the most beautiful children. I have two Dutch-German cousins getting married this year, one to a Chinese woman, one to an Iranian woman, and we are all looking forward to gorgeous kids.

  2. Posted April 13, 2010 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    I think an asian dad has it easier with mixed kids. They’d think, oh how lovely, what an interesting love story. A white guy and an asian chick they think sex tourism in bangkok.

    I’m dating a girl from hong kong, a flight attendant for a popular, upscale airline.

    I would imagine that if we had kids and moved back to the US everyone would think I pulled her out of some third world situation when in reality hong kong is rather upscale and it’d probably take some convincing to get her to move to the US.

    Theres a myth that Chinese women want to marry a wai lao/gwailo and go to the US, when in fact most of them know that they can live much better in China than in the US. Less so in HK but they’re more familiar with it and most of them think of HK as the center of the universe.

    Anyway, i’m sure when i picked the kids up from daycare they’d think I spent a week vacation in some hellhole like burma and adopted them.

    Further, when you live in china/HK its not so much about having a fetish and more about having, statistically, zero other options. But then it begs the question why certain guys go do business in asia to begin with. Then you’ve got some explaining to do.

    Good stuff Chris.

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