As I was looking about the internets, I came across the Twitter of a lovely blogger named Mari, and I became completely enamored by her comics. She takes a humorous stance to her daily life as she tries to educate her world, about the world around us. Mari is in an intercultural relationship and discusses love and racism in the south.
It was a cold evening in January when we first met. I was out with my friends when we decided to stop at a Starbucks after our ice-cream outing. I had a gift card and had never been inside a Starbucks before. That was the first time I saw Seungdomon; my Korean Beau. He was sitting by the door; sketching people. I thought he was gorgeous, and I couldn’t help but peek through the crowded café over at him. He said the whole room began to glow when I stood in front of him, and that he was compelled to talk to me. After he gave me his business card, our mutual friends set us up on a date a week later. He is probably one of the kindest people I have ever met. We fit together so perfectly, I joke I am in a K-Drama sometimes.
The Science of Love: Why Do We Love?
What is love? Is it a feeling? An emotion? Or something human beings created like time? And why do we love who we love? Sometimes when I think about it, I think, “Why do I love chips?” I dunno, I just do. Chips are salty, and crunchy and for some reason I am attracted to salty, crunchy snacks more than other kinds of snacks. I think maybe love is the same way. Why do I love this person? I can give reasons why, but part of it is more abstract and you can’t explain the feeling in exact words. As for why I love Seungdomon, sure I can list reasons, but above all it feels right in my heart and mind.
Why Asian Guys?
Oftentimes people will ask me, “Why are you into Asian men?” To be honest, I don’t know. When I was 4 years old I had my first crush. He was a Filipino boy. I remember chasing him around the schoolyard telling him we were going to get married. He never talked much, and I feel like part of that was my fault for traumatizing him.
I mention this because it seems that I have always, when I look back, had a proclivity towards crushing on boys of Asian descent. Have I liked only Asian guys? No. Honestly, I’ve liked guys across all races at one point or another. But for some reason, the majority have been Asian.
Racism and Dating in America
Unfortunately, there are people in America (and yes I realize this isn’t unique here, but I am an American) who don’t like the ideas of interracial dating/marriages. Due to my country’s history, in the South people wonder how race relations are, especially being a mixed race couple. The thing we have to remember is we are one country. There really isn’t a divide between the North and the South like in the past. Sure there’s the Mason Dixon Line (aka the Gnat Line), but that’s only for weather and to tell me when I can and can’t get sweet tea or grits. I could go on about the history, as I am a huge history fanatic, but I I’ll keep it simple. The thing I have started to notice recently in the South, and the Western states, is you tend to see more mixed race couples. Even with more mixed race families there will always be those who dislike it. I know it may feel like there is a lot of it out there, but in reality, it’s just a small few who are loud enough to get themselves heard and cause problems for the rest of us. Through it all you have to remain positive, be firm in your belief and stand your ground.
Why Not a White Guy?
It can be hard though to listen to the things people say. The thing I’ve heard most from people is “Why not an American guy/White guy?”
My problems with this statement:
- Are you assuming because they are a race other than White, they aren’t American? You can be any gender and race and be an American. People from other countries with accents have problems with being treated differently; like my mother. If they are a citizen of the United States, then race, gender or origin of birth doesn’t matter in the case of being “An American”.
- Why do they have to be American? Are we saying our country is so ethnocentric that dating or marrying a foreigner is off limits? You’re creating a very small world, and Petri dish for yourself.
- Why do I need to date a white guy? (not that there’s anything wrong with them) Are we suggesting we are bound to our race only? Commercials for dating websites here seem to suggest that. You’ll only see the White girl with a White guy, A Black guy with a Black girl, and if you are really lucky they’ll show Asians on TV, but they will also be assigned to another Asian.
- You are not allowing love to happen for what it is. You are telling people they can fall in love, but within reason. And it’s a reason I don’t understand.
I am too nice to say anything except a shy, “I don’t know,” and smile in return. What I am really thinking is, “What’s wrong with a [insert race here] guy?”
I honestly believe most people are inherently good at heart, and don’t mean things the way they come out. Mostly it is just ignorance. And I don’t mean that in an offensive way. Ignorance can be solved with knowledge. Stupidity, on the other hand, is forever.
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Have You Ever Experienced Racism?
In short; Yes. Let me start off by saying that my family supports me 100%. They love Seungdomon to death. One of my cousins is married to a Korean man as well, so having interracial marriage in my family isn’t something new. My family never told me who to love, or loving someone was wrong. Racism is not something we are born with. I believe it is something you are taught. Most people, even the ones who asked “Why not an American guy?” love him, and support us as well. There are those out there who don’t like seeing us together though. In reality, it is such a small few we don’t really notice. Mostly it’s older White men, and older more traditional Asians. In fact, I remember dating an Asian boy many years ago, and his parents refused to let us date because I was white. I was in high school. I was shocked. I was hurt. Now, I’ve grown a thicker skin, so it doesn’t bother me. The thing I’ve come to realize is racism is everywhere. Even in the UK, where you see interracial couples in the streets, mixed race children, and mixed race couples on television, you’ll still find racism. The fact of the matter is, I don’t need other people to approve of my relationship. It’s okay, because I do see the shift, and those people will become more of a minority than they already are.
Sometimes people may look, or act differently towards us, and I know it’s because we are considered different, and they mostly don’t understand. People fear what they don’t know. Things in America are changing. I have a lot of hope for this country. You see Millennials making huge changes in the mindset of mixed race. It is exciting to see it, and in a way, I guess we are part of it.
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I love Seungdomon, and I can’t tell you how lucky we are to have each other. For me, your soul-mate (if you believe in that) is someone who listens, shares, grows, laughs, and cries with you. They are someone to travel with, plan a future with and experience life together with. If that isn’t love, then I don’t know what is. People may wonder what it is like to date outside your race. I don’t see race when I am in love, with family, or friends. I see people. Our biggest difference isn’t race, it’s culture; I am Finnish-American, he is Korean. Sometimes we come across differences in our cultures, but we learn to navigate those waters when we get there.
Every couple will have their ups, downs, and obstacles. If my biggest obstacle is that someone doesn’t like we are a mixed race couple…then things aren’t so bad. Really, in the end, I don’t think much about what others think of us. It’s a waste of time and energy. No one has ever made me doubt our relationship. Seungdomon and I are happy, and that’s all that matters to us. And what’s the color of love? Seungdomon thinks bright, happy pink like Hello Kitty is the color of love. But, he is a little bit goofy so don’t feel like you need to take his word for it.
Mari is a comic artist and blogger for hellomarimon.com, a website that chronicles the adventures of Marimon, a Finnish-American girl living in between several different cultures. She writes and draws humorous comics about her life and experiences in Japan, and South Korea as a Finnish-American. Her goal is to educate people on other cultures, and build bridges between countries using a universal action called laughter. Mari is a teacher, dancer, comic illustrator, blogger, foodie, and a self-proclaimed Disney princess who enjoys watching wedding shows with her yogurt-eating cat Bubz. For more great stuff on Mari’s life you can follow her on Twitter and Tumblr.