I was talking to my parents about marriage. I asked, “Hypothetically speaking, if I married a black woman, how would you respond?”
My mom said, “Oh, we would be OK with it. We know that it’s up to you. We’d prefer a Korean woman, but we would be OK with it. Our extended family might have some problems, but you don’t see them often, so you don’t have to worry about them. But the difficult part would be people at church. They would say things like ‘Ah, what a pity. She has such a lovely family, a good job as a pharmacist, two excellent sons. But she has a black daughter-in-law. What a waste!'” (The actual phrase she used was “안됐다”).
I asked, “What would they say if I married a white woman, or a Chinese woman?”
“They would say ‘It’s too bad that he didn’t marry a Korean woman, but still, it’s OK.'”
My dad chimed in, “Korean people can be pretty racist.”
Part of me is tempted to start dating a black woman, just to kick sand in the eyes of the Korean church folks. But that’s not a good reason to start a relationship. “Hey, want to go out so that we can force my home community to confront their hatred and bigotry?”
Marriage can bring two warring communities together. Marriage can also lead to great strain and stress. In the end, the Montagues and Capulets ended their feud, but it didn’t really work out well for Romeo and Juliet. Oh yeah, they dead. Spoiler alert.
But I am thankful for my parents’ openness. As my dad said, “You can’t control your kids. If you try to control them, they will slip away, and eventually you will lose them.”
This is a hypothetical conversation. Maybe I’ll marry the perfect Korean woman that will put the Korean church folks at ease. Maybe I’ll marry a black woman. Maybe I’ll never get married. But I am thankful that I have the freedom to dream and explore and wonder. We’ll see where that freedom leads me.