Not until after we got married Kevin confided and shared with me a few situations where family members questioned his choices and wanted to ensure he understood the challenges that come with an, interracial marriage. Ericka Augutis
I want to invite you guys all to the table. We are going to be talking on the topic the, “The Color of love, interracial marriages, in America” my guest today is Erica Augustus.
Listen to the interview
Interracial Marriage in America
Ericka and I became friends when we worked at Office Depot for about 10 years, and we have maintained our friendship. I decided that I wanted to get into the conversation on, interracial marriages, in America because of what’s been happening in the world and specifically in the last month or so.
It’s a very difficult place for a, black woman, married to a, white man. I think it’s even a little bit more complicated when your partner or your spouse cannot understand a lot of the times your, black experience. I was listening to a podcast a few weeks ago and this, black woman, was talking about her experience.
She was married for 13 years to a, white man, the marriage dissolved not because of racial differences or any kind of racial problems, but she said it contributed to it, because her husband never really got into the conversation. If she would come home and say she was discriminated against at the office, he didn’t have a response or didn’t talk about it and then the host asked her the question.
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Can a, white man, love a, black woman, and still be a racist?
And her response was, “love has nothing to do with it”, now that piqued my interest and that’s the predominant reason that I wanted to get into this conversation, and have you guys all join in the conversation and discuss, the color of love.
Interracial Marriage Interview Highlights
- How did you and your husband meet?
- How Ericka and Kevin handled the stares from Black and White people in their, interracial marriage, when they walked down the street.
- What are her thoughts on Systemic racism, did her husband understand her experience as a, Black woman.
- Love has no color. How easy is it to love someone from a different race?
- How does she and her husband talk to her black sons regarding the police.
My name is Ericka Augutis, my husband Kevin and I have been married for 18 years 19 in November. We do have two children. One is 14 and the other is 4.
We met about 22 years ago. He worked at a local Blockbuster in my neighborhood. He was a manager and anytime I would go into the store to look at videos, he would offer to help me. Well that’s when our relationship started. Finally we went on our first date and I have to say it was really awkward for both of us and I thought okay I’m never doing that again. He was super quiet there was very little conversation. A few months went by and he called again, and asked for a second date and I was going to say no, but my mom chimed in and asked me to give him another chance. I’m so glad I did that second date because we just had the best time.
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We dated to my dismay for nearly five years, we were engaged twice. The first proposal I accepted I was elated. I was excited to say yes; but a few months later we went to a party with some of our friends and I realized some of the ladies didn’t even know I was engaged. Here I was super excited and some of his circle of friends didn’t know that were engaged. So, it really hit me hard. I felt like okay I’m really pressuring him into this, interracial marriage. So I called off the engagement.
After that we kind of went our separate ways for a few months and then we slowly started dating again. And I have to say both of us matured during that time of separation and he proposed a second time in restaurant. He got down on one knee in front of all these people and proposed me a second time. This time he was ready! We got married like a year later.
Myrna Young Did you think that he maybe didn’t want to tell his friends he was engaged because you were a, black woman?
Ericka Augutis No, I don’t think the fact that we were contemplating an, interracial marriage, had anything to do with it, or the, color of love, because I was in his circle of friends for four years. We all vacationed together so it wasn’t that. I just felt like he wasn’t ready and I was forcing him to get married.
Myrna Young I’m going to ask you not a question as a follow-up to that. So all the time you guys dated, five years or so, you got engaged twice you didn’t see color? The question today is there a, color of love? Did any of your friends treated you differently? Or said Ericka he’s white? None of his friends says hey Kevin why do you want to marry a, black woman? Nothing?
Ericka Augutis Not until after we got married Kevin confided and shared with me a few situations where family, maybe one or two family members, questioned his choices and wanted to ensure he understood the challenges to come with an, interracial marriage.
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So yes, from my perspective it came later as well, being a successful, black woman, my parents and other family members wanted to know why I was dating someone that doesn’t look like me. I really had to kind of ask myself that question as well. I realized it’s not as if I said to myself, I’m going to find a Caucasian man and have this, interracial marriage. I fell in love with a white man.
Myrna Young Yea Love is color blind actually, Love is an Emotion, it’s a feeling and it doesn’t see color!
Ericka Augutis There were experiences and times where we had to deal with the looks and the stairs especially when we would go into places where everyone was a little older. I would say during that time anyone that was over age of 65 would give us those looks on both sides. It’s not just the Caucasian folks, black folks as well.
Myrna Young Did you let the stares and looks bother you?
Ericka Augutis No, Kevin was always so confident and strong and it made me just feel like I had nothing to worry about. But there was this time just after we had our son Kevin Jr, we were having dinner in this fancy restaurant and this gentleman, I probably shouldn’t call him a gentleman. A white man, came over to our table and he said to Kevin, Is this your son? My husband says yes, he says well I’m going to tell you I’m a doctor that’s not your son!
You got to be kidding me!
I am not kidding. it was such a strange experience. I mean he just came over and I think his goal was just to disturb our night and really rock and test the foundations of our, interracial marriage. That was one experience that I’ll never forget.
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Myrna Young Okay but in your marriage of itself was there any kind of friction at all regarding race? Was all the friction from outside people looking in and trying to disturb your harmony? For instance as a, black woman, is it hard to go and talk to a partner that is outside your race about racism that’s been happening to you? Because, it’s not their experience and they can’t understand it how a, black women, survive in the workplace for instance? As a, black woman, I have not been discriminated against a lot and especially growing up in Canada; but I know that if I was talking to a, black man, who had a white spouse, it would have been a totally different conversation. Because as a, black man, he would have been harassed by the police, he would have been discriminated at work, he would have experienced racism throughout his life. Racism that his white spouse would not be able to understand or identify.
So, did any of those situations happen in your marriage where your husband couldn’t understand your black experience?
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Ericka Augutis I would say initially when we’re in the newlywed stage, there were a few situations, super minor things, nothing hardcore or anything like that; but I could tell there was an inequality in the situation. When I talked about it, he would always ask me why I was so passionate? That was his word or way of saying, why are you so angry? It took me about three or four times of him saying that or using that phrase for me to get that he’s trying to ask me to express myself and make him understand. Why was something so small making you angry? So, once I understood what he was truly trying to say and ask me, we had a tough conversation on racism.
I explained to him the history black people and the challenges I’ve experienced throughout my career being a, black woman. I think in his career not everyone knows he’s married to a, black woman; so he would hear things people would say that were borderline racist and he would tell me he got it.
Myrna Young Not only did your husband not understand your black experience but as a, black woman, I didn’t understand my husband’s black experience either. My husband was a police officer and what upset him more than anything else was that he was going out there every night putting his life on the line and yet the white officers were racial against him. Not just my husband; but they were racist against all the black officers in the department. There was no equality even when they could die together. My husband would say we bleed the same blood, when we’re out there on the street and I am treated differently. I didn’t understand until recently when I understood the definition of a racist and the definition of racist policies. I had to go back to him and apologize for not understanding.
That’s basically what I would I wanted to you know. To find out from you how is the cohesiveness in an, interracial marriage, when one person has white privilege and the other person has to claw their way for everything?
So, the other question I have on here is and I think you mentioned it, people staring at you and I think you said that you felt protected because Kevin was so strong and you weren’t scared; but did it bother you psychologically?
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Ericka Augutis We’ve been married for so long, I would say it bothered me until we had our son. A small portion of me would wonder is it worth it? Is it worth it, why can’t we just go out to dinner and just have a nice dinner without any stares, comments or judgment? So I would say, yes it does bother you, it does affect you. You just have to find a way to deal with it and ensure that your relationship is solid enough where it’s worth it.
How does Interracial Marriage affect children?
Myrna Young How does your 14-year-old son, he’s old enough to understand what’ going on right now in the world, how does he relate to having a white dad?
Ericka Augutis Oh, that’s a good question so, he’s actually okay with it. He was in Boy Scouts from the age of I think five or six until 12 years old and I remember we were on a camping trip he may have been 7 or 8 at the time and he came into our tent and I could tell something was wrong. His face was a little flushed, so I said to him what’s wrong he said this kid asked him why is your dad white and your mom black?
I said, what did you say? He says I said because they love each other! So I think he’s okay with what’s going on right now. I did not know how to quite handle it when a child asked him like where is he from? If he was Spanish? I think that’s he’s at that stage where he’s getting that question and has to figure out how he’s going to handle it and answer it.
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Is there a Color to Love? The Answer is NO.
Myrna Young It sounds like your, interracial marriage, is healthy. You guys don’t see color. Your, color of love, is blended. You love your kids, you show them love you don’t show them a difference and that’s definitely the way to go about it. So your, interracial marriage, experience has been a good one. As a, black woman, marrying outside of your race you still go through get the same racism and racist policies that our, black men, go through on a lesser scale.
That’s basically what I wanted to have a conversation so that we can shed a light on, interracial marriages. I mean we’re looking at black and white but, interracial marriage, can also be Spanish and black or even religion Muslim and Christian or anything that makes you different. It causes some controversy or cause some friction.
Ericka Augutis I don’t want the podcast listeners thinking I am making, interracial marriage, sound like it’s just perfect. Absolutely not, there are challenges don’t get me wrong. When we get invited to parties and there’s only a sprinkle of brown and black people in room, you have to figure out how to navigate. Do you want to be like over-the-top polished or just be yourself. When our families get together we both have to play roles. Every day you encounter racism. If you’re dealing with the public or you go in a public space you’re dealing with those types of situations where people are looking people are asking questions so it’s a conversation that you have more often than not. When you’re in a relationship like this, it’s something that you have to deal with if you want it to work out.
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Myrna Young I thank you for coming on and having a seat at this table I appreciate it. I hope our readers and listeners learned a few things one, interracial marriages, can work. They can be successful, you just have to have love and talk about it.
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