The following article was printed in a couple of publications in 1998, I thought it was a good one to start with.
The Delayed Response
It happened again. I call it the delayed response. You know, it happens like this: You become acquainted with a new person. The two of you have conversation and you hit it off. You introduce this new person to a family member and "poof" the rapport is gone. Typically, the new person finds a polite way to end the conversation.
It's all about subtleties. You've seen it; the small change in their facial expression, the uptight, stiffening of their body language. A friendship that is not going to happen. The next time you meet that "new person" socially, you feel the distance. Each of you backs off.
Does the sting of the delayed response lessen? Yes, it does. After thirteen years in an interracial family, you could say I have become used to it. Better yet, I prepare myself for when it occasionally happens.
In contrast with the negative response, often I am pleasantly surprised with positive responses. Recently I was on a plane with my family. Maurice and the kids were sitting together on one side of the aisle. I sat across the aisle from them. An older, white couple boarded the plane and sat in the remaining seats by me. The friendly woman introduced herself and we began to talk. I mentioned that I was taking a break from my kids-letting them sit by their father. She looked puzzled. Where were my kids? I did not match the family across the aisle. As I clarified who my family was, I felt my defenses go up. I braced myself for the response.
Well, it turns out that my family was not a big deal. She thought I had a beautiful family. "Joy" and I talked all the way from Orlando to St. Louis . We had so much fun talking that they invited us to come visit and stay with them in California.
Multicultural families make a statement every day. We can challenge people to ponder their preconceived notions. Many people lead a life neither venturing far to the left nor to the right of what they have "always done." They limit their opportunity for personal growth. They do not develop depth of character. We allow them the possibility to change. Don't allow the delayed response to discourage you. Consider how many people you have changed in a positive way. We inspire change. Our lives serve to further what we truly believe: people are all the same. We are contributing to a better future.