On a Saturday night, a few weeks back, my husband and I sat down to watch the movie “Loving.” For those of you who have not seen it, it’s a beautiful film about an interracial couple in the 1950s. Their state of Virginia does not allow interracial marriage and as a result they face all sorts of racism and prosecution.
“You know that would have been us,” my husband said to me. Although in my head I knew he was right, my heart was someplace else. I suppose I’ve taken for granted our Twenty First Century romance. I rarely see race when I look at my husband and I know he feels the same. In fact, the only time I think about race at all is when it comes to raising our children.
One of the very first texts that I received from my husband was a video of his parents salsa dancing. My in-laws were both born in Ecuador and take great pride in their Spanish heritage. My husband also took great pride in showing me that video which was very endearing! I was moved by how his large family was so close and did things like dance together! I grew up in a very small, very reserved family. (Us Scandinavians aren’t known for our warmth…or our salsa!). So, I found myself drawn to his family’s vibrant culture!
When our twins were born, we knew that we wanted them exposed to their Spanish heritage as much as possible. We are blessed to have my Mother-In-Law watch them two days a week and speak to them exclusively in Spanish. From day one they have heard both Spanish and English spoken in our household. When our babies became toddlers, and started yelling at us in Spanish, we realized they really were bilingual!! “Mas” (which means more) is probably the most commonly used word in our house. When they are thirsty they demand “agua.” They know how to count in Spanish and know the words for most colors and animals. In fact, each day they teach me something new!
The Spanish language is just the tip of the iceberg. My In-laws have exposed our kids to Spanish cuisine such as empanadas and plantains. (My cuisine growing up consisted mostly of chicken nuggets and mac and cheese!). They salsa dance with the twins to Latin music almost every Sunday morning. And when we attend large family events with my husband’s family the twins get to see a diverse group of people, Hispanic, White, Asian, African American, all related by marriage and commingling in love.
My husband and I have never faced any sort of discrimination as a mixed-race couple: in fact, we see our pairing as the best of both worlds! Introducing our children to our diverse backgrounds is very important to us. To the twins, living in a bilingual household is all they know. In today’s world, knowing two languages is a great advantage! Maybe one day, when they’re older, they’ll appreciate the gift they have been given. We also hope growing up bi-racial gives them a sense of empathy towards those who may not look like them or sound like them. And isn’t that all we can hope for, raising kids who are kind?