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Couples Reveal What It's Really Like to Be in an Interracial Marriage

Redbook Logo By Emy Rodriguez Flores of Redbook | Slide 2 of 4: Jessica Jones Nielsen and husband Christian Nielsen have been married for ten years and both work as university professors in London. Jessica (39) considers herself Afro-Latina and Christian (44) identifies as white from Denmark. What does the word interracial mean to you and how does it pertain to your marriage? “That we come from different backgrounds but mainly different skin types. I’m a visibly brown Afro-Latina and my husband is visibly a white man. The differences in our races are quite noticeable. Because our kids look white we often spend time explaining that they're mixed so that is a consequence of our interracial marriage. Our daughter Olivia is 4 and our son Elijah 7.” explains Jessica.What have you found to be the most challenging aspects of marriage with your partner in terms of cultural and racial exchanges. "It’s different in the sense of how we celebrate traditions, not so much difficult. It’s about taking the time to celebrate other traditions and respecting them. The difficulty is the expectation. In the beginning, I was used to louder and festive times with my family, but in Denmark, it’s a lot quieter and calm. It’s almost low-key. I struggled in the beginning, but over the years came to appreciate the different traditions." says Jessica. "If it’s a Danish tradition, it’s with my family, so Jessica will be an outsider. But if we go to a holiday in the U.S., I am an outsider, who doesn’t quite get what’s going on or the traditions or the nature of the culture..." Christian explained. Based on societal views, do you consider interracial marriage more or less challenging in 2020?Jessica responded, "My mom is Latina and dad is from Bermuda and were married in Virginia and suffered a lot of hardship because of their marriage. When I was two they had to move to California because of consistent racial issues. We’re lucky to be together now." What have you both learned from being with someone from a different race? Has there been any teachable moments that you guys have created together to form a new tradition?"Because we have kids, it makes us think about it more. Our kids are more visibly (lighter skinned) but we stress and emphasize the appreciation of beauty in different skin types because people are so diverse. There isn't one standard of beauty they should believe in. My children always tell me how beautiful my brown skin is and compliment their dad’s skin and features," shares Jessica.Christian mentions, "It's more on a day to day basis (new traditions). We’ll have a typical Danish lunch and then have a dance party at the end. They eat all types of food. They have an appreciation for all foods from our countries. We visit often, showing them where our families were raised and being proud of those places. We don’t shelter their background, so they know where they come from. They know they have very dark and very light family members."

Jessica Jones Nielsen and Christian Nielsen

Jessica Jones Nielsen and husband Christian Nielsen have been married for ten years and both work as university professors in London. Jessica (39) considers herself Afro-Latina and Christian (44) identifies as white from Denmark.

What does the word interracial mean to you and how does it pertain to your marriage?

“That we come from different backgrounds but mainly different skin types. I’m a visibly brown Afro-Latina and my husband is visibly a white man. The differences in our races are quite noticeable. Because our kids look white we often spend time explaining that they're mixed so that is a consequence of our interracial marriage. Our daughter Olivia is 4 and our son Elijah 7.” explains Jessica.

What have you found to be the most challenging aspects of marriage with your partner in terms of cultural and racial exchanges.
"It’s different in the sense of how we celebrate traditions, not so much difficult. It’s about taking the time to celebrate other traditions and respecting them. The difficulty is the expectation. In the beginning, I was used to louder and festive times with my family, but in Denmark, it’s a lot quieter and calm. It’s almost low-key. I struggled in the beginning, but over the years came to appreciate the different traditions." says Jessica.

"If it’s a Danish tradition, it’s with my family, so Jessica will be an outsider. But if we go to a holiday in the U.S., I am an outsider, who doesn’t quite get what’s going on or the traditions or the nature of the culture..." Christian explained.

Based on societal views, do you consider interracial marriage more or less challenging in 2020?

Jessica responded, "My mom is Latina and dad is from Bermuda and were married in Virginia and suffered a lot of hardship because of their marriage. When I was two they had to move to California because of consistent racial issues. We’re lucky to be together now."

What have you both learned from being with someone from a different race? Has there been any teachable moments that you guys have created together to form a new tradition?

"Because we have kids, it makes us think about it more. Our kids are more visibly (lighter skinned) but we stress and emphasize the appreciation of beauty in different skin types because people are so diverse. There isn't one standard of beauty they should believe in. My children always tell me how beautiful my brown skin is and compliment their dad’s skin and features," shares Jessica.

Christian mentions, "It's more on a day to day basis (new traditions). We’ll have a typical Danish lunch and then have a dance party at the end. They eat all types of food. They have an appreciation for all foods from our countries. We visit often, showing them where our families were raised and being proud of those places. We don’t shelter their background, so they know where they come from. They know they have very dark and very light family members."

© Gabe Palmer - Getty Images

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