Opinion: Tamera Mowry and Black Women in Interracial Marriage
© Nicole Paschal, All Rights Reserved
If you grew up in the 90’s like me, you may know of the twin actresses Tia and Tamera Mowry. Recently the twins sat down with Oprah Winfrey to discuss their lives in one of Oprah’s “Where are they now?” segments. The twins, born into a multiracial family with a black mother and white father, discussed what it is like to be married to their own husbands amongst other topics. The interview took a tide for the worst as they began to detail the response to their marriages. You see, Tia married a black man while her sister, Tamera married a white man. During the interview Tamera burst into tears sobbing, crying, taking deep breathes, while detailing the horrible social media comments towards her after marrying a white man. Her sister listened, surprised, with an open mouth, as Tamera noted being called” the white man’s whore” by one individual while another person on social media responded that she would have cost around $300 during slavery, but her husband gets her for free.
It was easy to see that Tamera was distraught by the social media responses as she stated, “I have never experienced so much hate in my life.” After the video, Tamara’s husband and many advocates for African-American women having the freedom to date and marry the best partner for them, regardless of race, came to the forefront in her defense. Although I don't agree with all of the views of Chrystalin Karazin, she offered an impassioned response with her YouTube video called, “Response to Tamera Mowry's Tears about Interracial Marriage Criticism.” In the video she states that she and Tamera are wives with whom their husband’s chose to marry before God and even their white friends, she added with sarcasm, they are not whores. She made the valid point of referring to the negative response as a "classic abuse tactic to guilt, shame and manipulate for their own benefit."
Tamra Mowry's Emotional Response About Her Marriage
As I first watched Tamara’s breakdown in Oprah’s segment, I was extremely angry. However I wasn’t angry at the social media trolls that seemed to torment this woman. I wasn’t angry at the double standard within the Black community that supports men dating outside their race, but penalizes women with hateful words and sometimes even violence and aggression.
I was angry with Tamara.
My first thoughts were, "Suck it up! Don’t you know almost all of us go through that when we marry a white man? You’re not the first! Your mother didn’t tell you and she was married in the 70’s? It comes along with the marriage. Have you seriously gone all this time without either whites or blacks trying to drill in the idea that you are unequal parties in your relationship? You have security; you don’t have to deal with people on the streets. You can turn off your computer! Life is not perfect and this is what you signed up for! Don’t be so weak.”
After some introspection, I questioned why, I, a black woman who is also married to a white man and have had some of those same experiences, wanted to lash out at her for crying about it. Although my husband and I are in our thirties, hearing such remarks have become somewhat commonplace in our world. A part of me was even shocked at her naivety and that she had not experienced any of this until now. I still find it amazing how money and fame can act as armor against the stigmas of race and gender.
Though a virgin until 28 (a year before Tamera's 29), I grew up in a low-income neighborhood where I was well acquainted with being called h*s and b*tches by default. The first time it stung because I hadn't even kissed a boy yet, but after a while I got used to it. And Tamara Mowry had never been referred to as such until now? It made me angry that Tamara never felt what it was like having she and her husband approached by a group of men angry about their union and to have to stand there with heart racing wondering if they just want to curse you out or if they have weapons too. Had Tamara never experienced this before? She had never heard of the murders of the Pietrzak’s of San Diego, the beating of the Vogel’s in Queens or of Mr. Quade and his black date in Savannah? To a lesser extent, she hadn’t even heard of the remark left for the Aaron’s of Georgia?
Perhaps she should be proud that the naysayers actually believe she has a truly happy marriage, when my own African-American friends believe that since he’s white- there’s no way he could truly love me as much as I say he does. Furthermore, had Tamera Mowry never experienced being mistaken for her husband’s coworker, one night stand, mistress, or anything else but his wife? Had she never gone to her husband’s Christmas Party at the office and watched while he proudly introduced her to his coworkers as his “wife,” only to have them months later ask, “Hey are you still with the girl you brought to the Christmas Party?” Did her husband ever have to remind his coworkers, “My wife- yes, I’m still with her.” Tamera Mowry obviously has never had the experience where somehow wife and black girl didn't make a connection in someone's mind.
On our wedding night here in the states, my husband reserved a room at a privately-owned hotel. With a European accent and European ID and checking in at night, the front desk person saw me behind him and at first denied us our room. Seeing only color and not the $150 dress from White House Black Market I was wearing or my ring, his first thought was I was a prostitute and my husband a tourist. He didn’t want that type of business. I assume that Tamara didn’t have to argue about a hotel room while with her husband, while it is something I will never forget. Lastly, I know about being called whore while with my husband, but not in the way that Tamera knows it. It wasn’t from a troll sitting behind a keyboard, but loud and direct by a group of men riding down the street.
Tamera' fame and class afforded her protection from all this until social media crept into her life providing only a small dose of what she might experience if she were unknown. And this small dose of reality brought her to tears on live television. I question which part of her interracial marriage was out of the ordinary as a Black woman-the hatred she received or the fact that she didn't know the hatred existed until now? She was oblivious to the experiences that Black women like me, to some extent or another, have experienced all along- and it angered me. I envied her for the fact that until social media came storming in; she was free to love her husband without bearing the social criticism, stigmas, and stereotypes that many Black women meet when we walk out that door in everyday life- whether we married White or not.
Yet, I now realize that Tamera is not to blame for this, or for her naivety. The problem is that many of us just accept it when we too should still be outraged like she is. We as African-American women are often silent about our experiences (in many areas of life). Many of the experiences I have noted in this article I'm mentioning for the first time to anyone except my mother. Maybe Tamera can bring some attention to these matters because it is not okay. Maybe, through her fame, she will allow the world to see what many Black women must endure to love whom they want. Or perhaps considering the marginalized status of Black women in America, no one may care of its broader implications. However, we, the African-American women that have chosen to marry the man that we love and that loves us, regardless of color, will still be here. We will still be loving our husbands, kissing our children, and remain thankful that we’ve found love whereas so many against us have not-and honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.