In case you’ve missed it, we’ve started a new series that will pop up here on the blog every Friday.
Recently I have been inundated with content about racism in every shape and form – from issues with mixed race parents or cross racial adoption to being asked to write about it on Heritage Day. There is just so much that we could say on the topic as it’s still touches a very raw nerve in South Africa (and rightfully so).
Besides the odd intentional racist, I feel like a lot of the hurtful comments are actually just brought about through ignorance of how their words will affect other people. Thinking only of our own personal situations with little regard for others, because that’s all that we know. So in an effort to broaden what we know, I thought I would interview a wide range of South Africans that have a variety of different situations – from mixed race couples to single race couples that adopt cross racially to couples that share the same “race” but differ vastly in terms of culture. A bit of a mumble jumble of everything really.
So let’s get started!
I want this to be a safe space where we can share stories and encourage each other to be more accepting of our fellow South Africans of all races, cultures and situations. So while I want to encourage you to comment and open a discussion, I will not tolerate any abusive or troll like comments here.
This one is a good one guys. I love it when people really answer questions and Claire didn’t disappoint! Grab your cup of the good stuff and read along as we get to know Claire and her family.
- Tell us a little bit about yourself – what you do, what you like to spend your time on etc
Hi, my name is Claire… I am 26 year old white female. I got married when I was 21, had my first baby at 22 and my second baby at 23 🙂 I have chosen to be a stay at home mommy for my kids. We have the most amazing little kids! I love being creative and doing anything arty or crafty. It relaxes me and makes my soul smile.. I have my diploma in Fine art. I haven’t painted in a couple years but now that my kids are getting a little bigger, I’m hoping to have more time to do it.. I scrapbook and make cards… I love making things and taking lots of photos of my kids. I can not survive without chocolate, and numerous cups of tea throughout the day!!! I love checking in on whats happening on fb and reading posts and blogs. I hate cooking but love eating.. My favourite days are those spent with family cuddled on the couch watching movies. I’ve started baking more in the last few weeks and really enjoying doing it. I love being a mom.. its not always easy and pretty often I’ve felt like giving up, but my kids are my life and I wouldn’t change them for the world!
- Tell us a little bit about your partner – what they do, what they like to spend time on etc
My hubby’s name is Thavie.. well actually Thavanesan but everyone calls him Thavie 🙂 He is 37 years old… yes, we have an age gap of 12 years but it has never been an issue for us. He is an Indian male. We fist met in the end of my fist year of Tech. I started a holiday job and he was my boss.. Initially we didn’t like each other.. but once we had gotten to know each other, we became good friends and our friendship blossomed into more. He moved jobs to be close to me when I went back to Tech. He now works for a company that supplies bedding and linen to all the big retailers such as Mr Price, Sheet Street, Boardmans, Edgars, etc. He is a jack of all trades though.. he does several jobs all in one. He does all the data, runs the factory, he meets with the clients, does health and safety, and represents the company for any CCMA cases or hearings.. he really does do it all and whenever I speak to him he is forever on the run. He will always go above and beyond for you..if you need anything done, Thavie will be the first to offer his assistance. He will do anything for his family. He always puts our needs before his own and works incredibly hard so that I can stay home and be with the kids. He really is a wonderful father and he loves playing with them. He has always been incredibly hands on.. my kids adore him and we are so blessed to have him as a husband and father. He loves watching movies, eating biltong and is a huge Liverpool FC fan.
- Give us a bit of insight into your racial/cultural backgrounds.
I grew up in a really strict environment. We had quite a lot of rules that we had to abide by and set curfews to follow. My dad is Afrikaans and my mom is English. We were brought up on a Christian home. My parents tried to instill in us strong morals and ethics. We were often taught that two wrongs don’t make a right and that we had to treat people how we wanted to be treated. We lived a very sheltered life and looking back now, I can see and understand why sometimes we weren’t allowed to do certain things. It seemed harsh at the time but it was actually for our benefit. I think you have to become a parent to understand that your parents have your best interests at heart.
My mother was a stay at home mom when I was little. It was great having her meet me after school and help me with my homework and projects. I went to boarding school for my entire high school career. I think this helped to make me more independent. I am a Christian and my kids will be brought up to know God.
Thavie also grew up in a strict household. Both his mother and father worked so when he was little he lived with his Grandmother and she brought him up. She was a very hardworking lady and taught him so much. He has a lot of love and respect for his gran and would do anything for her. She sadly passed away in 2010, just before we got married. Thavie didn’t have an easy life, but he worked hard and struggled to get to where he is today. He was brought up to work hard and do everything to the best of his ability.
Thavie’s family are Tamel and are really spiritual. We feel that it is important to celebrate both of our cultures.. One is not better than the other and there is beauty in both. Our kids need to grow up knowing and understanding both our cultures and embrace them. We try to support each other as much as possible and both go to functions together.
- Tell us all about your kids – brag a bit – it’s OK 😉
My kids are my entire world! They brighten up even the darkest of days. My daughter, Sophie-Lynn is 3 and my son Kieran, is 2. They are little bundles of energy and keep us on our toes!
Sophie loves princesses and is a real little lady. She belts out the songs to Frozen and tangled which I think is the cutest thing ever!! She is incredibly quick to pick things up and I’m really proud that she has the creative gene. Her drawings ate phenomenal!! Sophie is the sweetest and kindest person I know.. she loves to make friends with people and she can talk! Her giggle is contagious! I love watching how my two interact together. They are so little but the bond between them is amazing. They have so much love.. we are truly so blessed to have been given them.
Kieran is my fighter. It was a really tough pregnancy and we had a threat of loosing him at 6 months. He is my miracle. He is the most gentle and loving little boy. He climbs into my lap and gives me hugs and cuddles throughout the day. He has no fear though and dives into everything! He doesn’t walk but runs everywhere! He amazes me. I can’t imagine my life without my Sophs and Kieran.. they are love! My life is better because they are in it.. they make you want to be a better person and try harder. They have made me look at things with new eyes. I just need to learn to have more patience and come to term with fact that my house will never be clean! My kids are fantastic and amazing in every single way and with everything that they do.. I am not biased, it’s the truth 🙂
- How do you and your partner view race in your relationship? What kind of role does it play in your family? Does it even feature?
Race really doesnt feature that much in our relationship. It’s not an issue to us. I don’t see Thavie as an Indian.. I see him as the man that I fell in love with.. my other half, the person that knows me better than I know myself and someone who knows how I’m feeling without me having to say anything. Thavie is my soulmate. You can’t help who you fall in love with.. I fell in love with my best friend who just so happens to be of another race. We didn’t do anything wrong, we didn’t go against nature.. We just fit.
We work and we try not let peoples opinions get to us.. we always said when we started dating that it’s us against the world. We matter, and if people want to find fault then they have issues they need to deal with not us. We want to bring our kids up to not see colour and be accepting of others. There has been times that comments have been made and people glare at you with disapproving looks but I’m learning to let it go. It does hurt but after being married for nearly 5 years, it’s a lot easier to brush off. My family is beautiful and I wouldn’t change a thing!
- Are there big differences in your marriage relationship that are affected by your heritage/culture?
There really aren’t any big differences in our relationship. Yes, we do have the same problems faced in any relationship and I won’t lie, it isn’t always easy and definitely not perfect.. no relationship is… but I still wake up each day wanting to try make it work and love him completely! The only one major difference is that birthdays/holidays/anniversaries were a big thing in my family and growing up whereas my hubby isn’t big on the whole present thing… he has been trying and makes more of an effort lately! All relationships take work regardless of your race or heritage! All you can do is try your best and learn from your mistakes!
- How have your families reacted to your relationship?
Initially our families reactions weren’t really receptive.. Some were not at all accepting. My dad and Thavies mom seemed to be the ones with the biggest issues. It was not at all a nice time and quite heartbreaking. Not at all a time that I’d like to go back too, I don’t think I could’ve gone through it without Thavie by my side and my moms support. My mom was really my tower of strength and she still is! Thankfully through time, peoples views and opinions have softened.. we are now closer than we were before and we have the support of the entire family. We try not bring up the past and try hard at moving on. We will never be able to change the past or wipe away the hurtful things that were said or done.. all we can do is learn from it and be better because of it. My past experiences have made me who I am. I am glad that we have been able to mend the relationship with my dad as I love him to bits and just want him to be proud of me. I chose Thavie and we are making a life together. Children change everything though.. everyone adores them and in a way, they fixed relationships and brought us all together again and made us even stronger.
- What kind of experiences have you or your partner had when you have been out with your kids (alone with them or together as a family)?
We have had both positive and negative experiences when we have been out. Some people have come to us and said that our family is beautiful and that they think what we are doing is great. Then you also get the little looks of horror or the snide remarks people say loud enough for you to hear. Initially it really bothered me and I was nervous to walk together in the mall but after time I don’t notice half of it anymore. I walk around in my own little world oblivious to it.
We were out for dinner the one night and my husband took my kids to play in the kiddies corner, they came back quite quickly and my husband said there were rude kids who wouldn’t let them play. I saw red that day and wanted to make a scene but my hubby told me that you cant blame the kids, it was the way they were brought up. I can handle if people are ignorant or rude but don’t do it to my kids. I think people need to teach kids to not see colour but as individuals. One of the most hurtful things that someone said to me was that they were afraid my kids wouldn’t be accepted… um really?? why wouldn’t they?? That was stupid and it infuriates me when people say things without thinking..
- What do you think we can do to combat this ignorance/stupidity?
I think people need to stop being so racist! Not everyone is, but you need to see people as people and not just a colour. People generalise far too much. You should judge a person on their merits, not by the colour of their skin. A person is a person not matter what the colour of the skin. We all bleed, we all hurt and we want to be loved. I think people just need to be more open to change. If you don’t have anything nice to say, keep quiet and don’t get involved. There is no reason to be rude or say hurtful things. Everyone should be able to make their own decisions, even if you don’t approve, you can be supportive. Don’t push your views on others. Parents need to bring their kids up to accept all races as not one is superior. We should all be equal and if you take the time to find out about different cultures, I’m sure you will find a lot of beauty in it or be able to appreciate it.
- Did you have any fears about parenting mixed race children before you had them? Have any of those fears changed since becoming a Mommy/Daddy to kids with mixed genes?
Before having my children, I was scared, I was terrified actually. Not frightened about the fact that my kids were going to be mixed race, but because I was scared that I wasn’t ready or would be a bad mom. I did spend a lot of time wondering what features my kids would get. I have blue eyes and blonde hair. I knew that my kids wouldn’t have blue eyes and would probably have dark hair like my hubby, but that didn’t bother me at all. I did wonder who my kids would take after before they were born. I think that is a natural feeling for any parent but it honestly wouldn’t make a difference. My kids are beyond perfect the way they are, they have the most beautiful big brown eyes and raven hair, the perfect tan!! I’m so jealous of their gorgeous olive skin. My daughter has the most stunning hair as well.. I would’ve loved them no matter what! They are perfect just as they are!! My kids are so loved!! We are hoping to have another very soon 🙂