Bridging the divide: Overcoming discrimination in an interracial marriage

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 7, 2022

When Greg Watson began dating the woman of his dreams 30 years ago, he barely noticed the contrast in the colors of their skin.

“It wasn’t an issue,” he recalls after three decades with his wife, Jody. “We weren’t brought up to see people that way.” Not everyone in his rural community agreed, however. In fact, Greg remembers the first time he noticed heads shaking in disapproval at him and Jody as an interracial couple. Suddenly, he couldn’t get the issue off his mind. “When we would go out, Jody would ask me, ‘Why do you keep looking over your shoulder?’” said Greg. “I would say, ‘You just never know.’”

According to the Pew Research Center, one in five new marriages is now interracial. While statistics suggest that interracial marriages in America have gained greater acceptance, not all couples have that experience. Still, they have found ways to cope.

Shared religious faith along with a community of fellow believers have been invaluable in navigating the cultural complexities.

Greg and Jody grew up worshipping and associating with a diverse group of people in their congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Neither their families nor their fellow congregants were surprised when they began to date and later married.

The experience was similar for Monifa and Isaac Homza’s multiracial, multi-generational clan.

Monifa’s Nigerian-Caribbean father and Korean mother were often a curiosity to others. But at home, the children could see their peaceful and loving relationship, Monifa said. “They took care of each other in spite of what was happening around them.”

Meanwhile, Isaac was growing up in rural Virginia, where he daily observed the racial divide on his bus ride to school. As he passed two churches that shared a parking lot, he noticed that the lot divided attendees by race. “It seemed strange to me because at our congregation we all met together,” Isaac said.

The couple eventually met through a mutual friend when Isaac moved to New York to volunteer at the headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses with people from around the world. The couple might never have come to be if the prior generation hadn’t overcome their own cultural biases.

Monifa’s father made big changes once he started studying the Bible and saw that all races are equal in God’s sight.

Now living in Maui, the Homzas are working to impart the same qualities to their three children. “One of the Bible principles we try to teach them is love of neighbor,” Monifa added. “We don’t categorize people. We love people of all races.”

 

This article was submitted by Hakim Lattimore, local public relations representative for Jehovah’s Witnesses. More information, including resources for happy family life, can be found at www.jw.org.