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Pet Sins May 2003

Asian Community's response to Asian man-Black/Hispanic woman couple

I am a Black/Puerto Rican mixed woman in a relationship with a Burmese man. We have been together for 5 years now. When I think of all we have been through, it makes me wonder if we are going to make it. But when things seem to get worse, we get through it all somehow. I think prayer has been helping a lot.

My boyfriend lives in another city. I went to visit him recently. He lives in an apartment with three roommates - an older woman in her 60s, a younger woman in her 20s, and the younger woman's boyfriend. During the week, my boyfriend had to work, so I was alone in the apartment with the older woman. She came to me when I was in the sitting room. She was very sweet to me. She told me that she liked me already, and thought I was making a wise choice in getting my teaching degree. Our conversation went very well; we talked for hours.

The very next day she approached me again. She said that she and the younger woman had been talking about me a lot. She said they were both curious about my age and race, because they had guessed that I was in my early 20s. I told her that I would be turning 30 and I was mixed Black/Puerto Rican.

She then asked if I had ever been married before, the reason being she needed someone to relate to, since she was once married. I told her the truth - that I was married once and am now divorced. She began to tell me that Asian men only use non-Asian women for sex. She told me that they only value virgin Asian women, such as her daughters, who are prized. She said that the community only laughs at situations such as mine. I began to feel so embarrassed, and like a cheap whore. I couldn't believe how worthless I was feeling.

She told me that I needed to find a good Black or Hispanic man. She then asked me again what race I was. I told her again for the second time my mother was Black and my father Puerto Rican. She nodded her head and said, "You need to find a good Black man, or Hispanic man". She also told me that I might even want to find a decent financially secure white man who would support me.

She said that my culture was way too different than Asian culture, and I would never be happy in a relationship with an Asian man. After she told me this, I went into my boyfriend's room and just lay down on the bed. I tried to suck all of this information down, hoping that it would just disappear. I tried but it wouldn't. I just felt sad. I guess it's a good thing I didn't tell her about my two children from my previous marriage.

When my boyfriend came home from work, I told him about the conversation. I was trying to hold back tears, but it didn't do any good. I ended up crying my eyes out. He was so angry. He told me not to pay any attention to what was said. He then went to the woman and yelled at her to stop meddling in our business. She claimed that I only misinterpreted her words. She said that he was disrespecting her and the community, that his reputation was on the line.

This woman is seen as "auntie" in the community. All the people are like "brother and sister", like family. A man from another apartment came over and took her side, saying that I misinterpreted her. I didn't misinterpret anything. I heard her very clearly. She explained everything to me. She had told me that all of this information was "for my own good".

More men came over later and said that I was nothing but trouble to him. I guess I am completely wrong for him in their eyes. A divorced woman, half Black/Puerto Rican, and not a Buddhist. To them it doesn't matter whether I am in college, from a good family, etc. None of that matters to them. They just see me as a complete catastrophe.

My boyfriend was very angry and said that he wanted to break the door down with his foot. He said this is why he hates Asians. I told him that not all Asians are like this. I told him that there are always people like this every culture. He told me that I am naive and just don't understand. I then had to reveal to him the circumstances surrounding our previous breakup:

An acquaintance of his, back when he had been living in the same city with me, had tried to coerce me into having sex, threatening that otherwise he would make sure I never saw my boyfriend again. He was trying to take off my clothes, all the while saying,

"I don't see what he sees in you. You are not that beautiful. Show me what it is that he sees in you, because I just don't see it. Show me. Show me and I promise that I will let you see your boyfriend again. If not, then you will never see him again".

When I rebuffed him, completely in tears, he told me, "Please do not tell him about this, because he will kill me. And he will go to jail. Do you want him to kill me? My blood will be on his hands."

This man continued to harass me after this, and it just got worse. My boyfriend and I ended up breaking up because of the pressure. My boyfriend never knew of this past situation until the incident with the old woman and the neighbors brought it all out of me.

When he took up for me and went to the woman to confront her, he defended my honor. No one had ever done that for me before. It felt so beautiful. I knew then that I truly loved him. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind at that point.

Before I left, he gave me white beads - Mala to pray with, to clear my mind and to bring me strength and courage. I was hurting so much on my return home, I wore them around my neck because it was the closest to my heart. I have been praying ever since that we get through this together. It has been really rough. I love him. I would not let anyone hurt him either, I would stand up for him too. He is my heart.

R.
2002