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What Not to Say to Mixed-Race Parents

My husband is white, and I’m Japanese-American. To state the obvious, we’re an interracial couple. (To confuse you further, we met in Paris. But that’s a story for another time.) It isn’t uncommon to see a lot of couples like us around these days. According to 2010 Census data, one in 10 (5.4 million couples) are interracial, a 28 percent jump since 2000. Add to that the fact that we live in Los Angeles, where it sometimes seems that couples of the same race are in the minority. In fact, we probably have an equal number of friends who are in interracial relationships as those who aren’t, and at a recent party I joked that, to a passerby, the large number of mixed couples in the room might look like a meeting of the mail-order bride society. (Warning: Don’t try that joke unless you’re actually part of an interracial couple.) But that doesn’t mean we aren’t still a novelty in some people’s eyes and get some crazy—and downright rude—comments.

Sometimes the questions are asked of us as a couple, and sometimes they’re about our daughters. Once again stating the obvious, they’re mixed race, which invites a curiosity of its own. Some say they look more Asian, while some think they look more white. We happen to think they’re a perfect combination of the two, but try telling that to a prying stranger in the Starbucks line.

To be fair, not all of the comments are meant to be mean, but when asking questions or making remarks regarding someone’s race or ethnicity it’s best to tread lightly—or say nothing at all. Besides, wouldn’t you rather just hear the romantic story about how we met in Paris?

Here are 10 Things You Shouldn't Say to Mixed-Race Parents:

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