When news arrived to Bryan Dihigo's family that he was dating a black girl,things seemed to turn out into a big challenge. They met each other at their church in Nashville,Tenn.,when he was 17 and she was a couple years older.
Quickly,they became close friends until after a year,Bryan got the courage to ask Breneé for a date. That's how their love story began.
It was the first time that the Dihigos were dealing with an interracial couple in their family. Bryan’s parents strongly disapproved of the relationship. Love seemed to be stronger.
Is there anything Bryan could have done to change his family’s opinion about their relationship?
One day,Bryan’s mother called him from the hospital saying that his father had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In that t moment,everything changed.
Although Bryan’s father lost his battle with the frightful illness – in 1998-,the Dihigo family decided to spend their last few months together with his father paying attention to the things in life that,his family realized,really mattered.
From that time forward,Breneé was no longer categorized by the color of her skin but accepted as another beloved member of the Dihigos. Bryan and Breneé have been happily married since June 2000,after dating for five years.
Webster's dictionary defines love as “the profoundly tender or passionate affection for a person.” The word has more definitions,referring to other expressions of love or family love. But what is romantic love? That's almost impossible for the dictionary to define.
As abstract as love is,definition of race is as elusive.
Interracial love is more common today than a couple of decades before,and obviously more than in the colonial period. Even after slavery was abolished,interracial dating was as uncommon.
In 1865 – after the abolishment of slavery in the United States – some southern states prohibited by law any relationship between blacks and whites.
Geoff Cunningham,a U.S. film director,headed down a rocky road when he met his future wife,Nicole,an award-winning actress.
In his movie “Rocky Road,” a biographical portrayal of their love story,Cunningham explains that nothing happens accidentally.
When Nicole Smith took home the Best New Actress award at last year's Pan African Film Festival for her role in “Rocky Road,” some movie lovers said no one deserved it more,because Smith lived the story.
As the movie depicted,the couple worked together. Soon they became friends. Then,one night they went out for a drink. As Cunningham said,one thing led to another,and the couple has been together now for eight years.
“Nicole was the first black woman that I ever dated seriously,” Cunningham said. “I think the key to why we stuck together is because we’re best friends. When you’re friends first,you have a much more solid base to build a relationship.”
The couple met each other in city with a lot of diversity: San Francisco.
“We’re fortunate enough to live in a very liberal community,West Hollywood,where people don’t have as many overt issues about interracial dating,” he said. “But if you look beneath the surface,you’d be scared by what some people think.”
For example: Cunningham's parents.
They were cautious at the beginning because they didn't know where the relationship was going,Cunningham said.
His parents made inappropriate comments about Nicole.
After a year,things changed. Cunningham's parents began welcoming his girlfriend after they realized the couple wasn't going to break up.
“I think it’s difficult for a white family,even a liberal white family,to adjust to their eldest child falling in love with a black person,” Cunningham said.
“There are many things about being black that they don’t understand even though they try and get better all the time. For instance,my dad told Nicole the first time he met her that she didn’t seem black. He didn’t mean anything by it,but what he meant and what she heard are two very different things.”
Cunningham is optimistic.
“It gets better every year,” he said. “I think more and more people are getting comfortable with interracial dating and to many teens it’s no big deal. But it all depends on where you live. We still get a lot of stares when we go back to my parent’s place in Virginia.”
And certainly,as Cunningham said,interracial love has become more common for new generations,who have grown up with more liberal attitudes about race-relations.
According to a 1997 USA Today/Gallup poll of American teenagers,57 percent reported dating someone of another race or ethnic group.
This is a large increase. In 1980,just 17 percent said they had dated someone of another race.