Culture

When My Mother Married My Father, Her White Family Excluded Us, But My Dad’s Latino Family Rallied To Support Us In Good Times And Bad

Growing up, I remember placing my hand against my dad’s much darker skin. Our skin tones were always very different. People would say I looked more like my mother but I think they were just seeing the same white complexion. I didn’t have my dad’s deep brown skin or his jet black hair but I had his eyes and his way of looking at the world.

More than once while growing up, I had friends point out the difference between the two of us. While my mom had a mix of white European backgrounds, my dad had Mexican, Indigenous, and Spanish blood flowing through his veins. Her light skinned, slender form contrasted his dark and rotund one. However, I’ve never met two people who were more complimentary of each other than my parents.

In the 1980’s interracial marriage was still against societal norms in South Texas.

Jose and Teresa Chavarria

My parents married in a small church in Highlands, Texas during Holy Week. They were joined in celebration by my dad’s large Latinx family. On the other hand, my mom’s family wasn’t so eager to be there. The only reason they attended was that my dad provided their wedding clothes and personally drove them to the church. They didn’t support my mom’s decision to marry someone brown.

My dad’s family was happy to welcome my mom. Still, their welcome came with some trepidation. When they announced their engagement, my grandmother solemnly asked my father if this is what he really wanted. This was not a rejection of my mom but my grandmother’s concern about the ugliness that they would face as an interracial couple.

Officially, interracial marriage was legalized across the United States in 1967.

The decision to legalize came after the landmark Loving vs Virginia case. The Supreme Court found that the laws banning interracial marriage violated the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Though it was now legal, it wasn’t exactly popular at the time. South Texas was slow to adopt any kind of sweeping social change, especially if it was mandated by Washington DC. To put this into perspective, look at how desegregation was approached in the area.

Brown Vs the Board of Education reached its historic mandate in 1957. When my dad and his siblings were going to school in the late ’60s and early 70’s their school district had only just begun the process of desegregation. My father would tell me stories of being bussed to the “white schools” to fulfill the 1957 mandate. When he and my mother married in 1985, the city was still very segregated.

Though it was legalized 10 years after desegregation, interracial marriage had just as much trouble being accepted by conservative Texans.

Jose and Teresa Chavarria

Though Texas has a diverse population, outside of its major metropolitan areas, it’s still socially conservative. Texas is also part of the Evangelical Protestant Bible Belt and is home to close to ten million Catholics, Protestants, Methodists and Baptists.

The state’s religious breakdown is very relevant when we talk about interracial marriage. Historically, many religions practiced in the U.S. disavow mixed marriages. For example, the Christian Bible is often cited as a reason against the mixing of the races. However, there’s no actual text that prohibits interracial marriage. Both Deuteronomy 7:1-6 and 2 Corinthians 6:14 urge the Israelites not to intermarry with the Canaanites.

That passage in Deuteronomy reads:

“Neither shalt thou make marriages with them [Canaanites]; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.”

On the surface, this might look like a case against interracial marriages. Nevertheless, it isn’t as the Israelites and Canaanites were of the same ethnic group. The argument here refers to the difference in tribe and religious observations as reasons not to intermarry. Still, though there is no text to back this up, many continue to use religion to argue against mixed marriages.

Another reason why interracial marriage is opposed is something I have lots of experience with.

Jose and Teresa Chavarria

One of the social objections to interracial marriage has to do with the offspring of these marriages. Interracial children come from several different cultures. A common worry is that these children will never fully belong to any. Similarly, objectors claim that these children will be shunned by their respective cultures for being mixed.

This has been a major arguement as recently as 2009. Louisiana Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell was exposed for refuseing to officiate interracial marriage. It was his opinion that these marriages do not last long. Additionally, he claimed he didn’t want the kids of mixed marriages to suffer unduly.

In a 2009 interview with the Associated Press, Bardwell said:

“I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way. There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage. I think those children suffer and I won’t help put them through it.”

I can honestly say that Bardwell is absolutely wrong in his thinking.

Jose and Teresa Chavarria

A little over 35 years ago, my parents met, dated and fell in love. They had me — their oldest daughter — 13 months after they tied the knot. My little sister joined the family 18 months later. She and I have never felt unloved.

We were raised with my dad’s side of the family. As such, we grew up with quinceañeras, authentic Tex-Mex and my grandma’s telenovelas filling our childhoods. While we were lighter in complexion than my fully Latinx cousins, we were no different.

My mom didn’t have the same sort of family support my dad did. Long before their wedding, her relatives were family in name and name only. However, she loved my dad with all her heart. That included his culture.

My mom had no exposure to Latinx culture before my dad — she didn’t even have any Hispanic friends at the time. Still, she embraced my dad’s family and heritage; learning Spanish words, cooking Mexican food and teaching her children about our culture.

While my parents found acceptance from his Latinx family, not everyone was as accepting.

Jose and Teresa Chavarria

Unlike the questions I got from childhood friends, some microaggressions were meant to genuinely hurt my parents. In their neighborhood and, later, when they moved to Houston, my parents didn’t face discrimination or harassment. It was outside these safe places that they experienced bigotry.

My mom has told me stories of times when she and my dad were stared at; sneered at even. Traveling through the small towns of South Texas, my parents’ relationship was sometimes treated with hostility and, other times, like an oddity.

There is a particular story my mom has shared about this. When she and my dad were newlyweds, they went to eat at a cafeteria-type diner. Walking in, dad was immediately aware that he was the only person of color in the restaurant. My mom explained that all eyes were on them the entire time they ate. They were treated as some sort of sideshow while they were there. As my dad put it, they should have sold tickets.

This isn’t the first or the last time my parents would be made to feel abnormal because of their marriage. I remember once they had glamour shot-esque pictures taken of themselves. The photographer applied a filter that completely washed out my dad’s complexion. Totally infuriated, my dad pointed out to the photographer that they made him look like a white man instead of a Latino. It was fixed eventually but the damage was done.

There are other bolder attacks and countless microaggressions but my parents paid most of them little mind. After all, they were together and happy.

Additionally, they were welcomed by my dad’s community and that meant a lot. When my dad died 33 years after they joined in marriage, it’s my dad’s Latinx family and community who rallied to support my mom, my sister and me in our grief.

My parents’ love created that world; one where my sister and I can always find welcoming and love. All the glaring bigotry in the world can’t take that from us.

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An Abuelo Got A Hurtful Note From Bad Neighbors About His Decorations And Latino Twitter Came Into Comfort Him

Things That Matter

An Abuelo Got A Hurtful Note From Bad Neighbors About His Decorations And Latino Twitter Came Into Comfort Him

@goldenstef / Twitter

We are rarely more defensive than we are for our abuelos. The viejitos have always been there for us and seeing them treated unkindly is just heartbreaking. That is what one Twitter user experienced after her abuelo got a wretched note about his decorations outside his home.

This is the horrid letter left for @goldenstef’s abuelo by undesirable neighbors.

The letter, which is filled with misspelled words, calls the abuelo’s house an example of a “low class Mexican family.” The letter was written anonymously by neighbors and delivered to the abuelo in an attempt to shame him into changing his decorations. One of the most bizarre moments in the letter is when the angry author criticized the homeowner for having too many American flags claiming he isn’t patriotic and can’t fool the neighbors. Like, which one is it people?

The Twitter user followed up with photos of the house to show the decorations their abuelo has out front.

People flooded the Twitter post with comments supporting and sending love to the abuelo. Fellow Latinos are ready to stand with the abuelo and some just want the names of the people behind the letter so they can talk to them. Some people are stunned at how far the author was willing to go out of their way to be mean to an old man who just wants to decorate his home and front yard.

Latino Twitter wants to come together to let the abuelo know that his decorations are adorbs.

We need to come together to give her abuelo all of the wonderful decoration we love. Let’s turn his house and front yard into a showcase of all of the greatness that Latin America has to offer.

People are falling in love with this viejitos yard.

Honestly, this is a great yard. Who wouldn’t want a yard like this? This yard is original and adorable and worth all of the praise that we can muster. Thank you to people like this for making their yards something unique and worth seeing.

@goldenstef wants everyone to know just how much they appreciate the sweet messages about their abuelo’s yard.

It costs nothing to be kind. It is even better when you can be kind about something someone clearly cares so much about. Who cares if someone decorates their lawn a little too much. At least they are having fun with their lives and that is something we all need more of right now.

READ: Latinas Are Sharing Their Most Treasured Memories Of Their Abuelos And It’s Exactly What We Needed This Month

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Latinas Talk About Love At First Sight

Entertainment

Latinas Talk About Love At First Sight

Miramax

In an infamous scene in the 1992 book Like Water for Chocolate, the novel’s main characters Tita and Pedro swear their undying love for each other within minutes of first meeting. Just like that, they experienced love at first sight. Stories all throughout history have detailed the romantic personal experience of an instant and ultimately long-lasting romantic attraction for a stranger upon first sight. But how practical— or even true is that really?

We turned to our FIERCE readers to see just how prevalent this phenomenon is.

In a post to our Instagram page we asked Latinas for their love at first love stories.

And scavenged around Reddit for good measure. Check out what we discovered below!

“Yes. I had briefly met him before but it was the first time I ever really noticed him. We had a whirlwind romance and then he left to take a job in Europe. We kept in touch for a few years but never saw each other again. He is the gold standard I judge men by.” –
adorableadelita

“YES with my dog the second I saw him I knew he was the one!! I’ve had him for 17years now and we are happily ever after.”- virgok1

“Yes but I’m just not brave enough to tell them they’re beautiful tho, most incredible smile I’ve ever seen the most captivating set of eyes I’ve ever looked into. But well love from afar right?” –ta_ta1009

“Yes. And it was delicious, I’ll never forget those Tacos dorados. My one and only.”- funkycold___medina

“Yes! I never knew love could fill your heart like that so instantly and so completely! It was the first time I ever saw my niece! Best feeling in the world!”- yesi_lo

“Not in love but in strong lust.” – magnetic67

“Yes! And we just got married during the pandemic (very interesting way how we got married).”-21djenne

“Just when I first laid eyes 👀 on the paletero in my neighborhood. Jokes aside I love that man, he’s so sweet.”- dreathunder

“Yup met mine when I was 17 yrs old and knew I would marry them. Here we are 18 years later and still together.” –elizabeth_pearl

HelloSchrodi1 point·4 years ago

“We were both 18 going on 19. He was a second year science student, I was a fresh faced firstie at a brand new University. I was also 95% sure I was lesbian. I saw this goofy ginger at the outdoor movie theatre, he had Styrofoam strapped to his head and declared himself Julius Ceasar, and gave me the biggest and most genuine smile. When he asked my name, it was a genuine want not just a question you ask to fill time. My heart squeezed a bit, and we kept eye contact for a bit too long before we both turned back to the screen. The next day we ended up sitting across from eachother in the cafeteria, and as soon as I saw him sitting there with a grin on his gorgeous face I knew I could love him. We were attached at the hip for at least 8 hours every day for a month, it was like a need to be around eachother, a magnetic pull and attraction. We started dating after a few weeks. We both fell in love quickly. I never believed in love at first sight, but we fit together perfectly in every way and every day, even now as we’re 20 with a lot of growth and ‘relationship strainers’ under our belts there hasn’t been a day that’s gone by where I don’t think of him and fall further in love. We’ve fought a bit, met eachothers families, he’s held my hand in the hospital and I’ve held his. We’ve had the kids talk, marriage talk, finances talk, and we’re moving in together this summer. It’s also pretty great that we have the same taste in women. I have never been happier, and he tells me the same.”-HelloSchrodi

“We met at work, when we both locked eyes we were drawn to each other. After a week of flirting with each other and staring into her beautiful blue eyes, she actually asked ME out. We dated for 8 years and got engaged; being madly in love is perfection. She walked down the aisle about 13 months after she accepted my proposal. She gave birth to her first child 10 months later, and had her second 2 years after that. She’s very happy in her life. Kind of wished she married me instead of the dickhead she met a month after leaving me.” –UrMomLikesMine

“It was a whirlwind. Can’t really explain it. Distance and heavy workloads on both our parts (we couldn’t see each other at all one year) made us end it. Still best friends, still in a sort of a platonic bond. We’ve both seen other people since then (I’ve just had a bad experience), but I don’t think I’ve ever felt that kind of… ease around someone until months have passed. When she moves here in a few years, who knows? She never will, but if she asked me to wait. I’d say yes in a heasrtbeat.” –ionised

“Yes… now married 10 years.” – juju_bees_mommy

“Well for me it wasn’t at first sight. But for him it was. Within the first week he knew I would be the one he was going to marry and spend his life with. My feelings grew quickly also and we knew we had met our soul mate very quickly. We are doing great. He’s saving up for an engagement ring, both support eachother in our respective fields (me in tattoo artistry and him in filmmaking). Once our financial situation is in order we plan to move to Seattle. I have never been so in love and I don’t regret it for a second.”- BigHeroDicks

elizabeth_pearlYup met mine when I was 17 yrs old and knew I would marry them. Here we are 18 years later and still together ❤️❤️❤️ @fiercebymitu

elizabeth_pearlYup met mine when I was 17 yrs old and knew I would marry them. Here we are 18 years later and still together ❤️❤️❤️ @fiercebymitu

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