Meeting your significant other’s parents for the 1st time is often “interesting.” Sometimes it’s a story retold for years.
For Christelyn D. Karazin, it’s a chapter in a book.
She publishes BeyondBlackWhite.com, aimed at African American women moving beyond racial boundaries. She’s also an accomplished lifestyle writer whose new book — Swirling: How to Date, Mate and Relate, Mixing Race, Culture, and Creed — will be published May 15.
One chapter is already generating buzz. Posted on the popular Hitched.com website, it describes her own “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” moment more than a decade ago, right here in town.
Mike flew me in from California to the foreign land of Westport, Connecticut, home of Michael Bolton, the late Paul Newman, and Martha Stewart (before she got run out of the place). I walked off the plane, covered head to toe with cold-deflecting clothes, but winters on the East Coast was like nothing I had ever experienced. The only way to describe it is, the cold went all the way through my hat, jacket, and sweater to my bones.
But there Mike was, his green eyes twinkling and brilliant smile so bright, I was warm in an instant. The hour-long ride from JFK to Westport had my stomach in knots and needing to get to the nearest gas station bathroom.
But that was just the start.
If there was one word to describe what it was like meeting the In-Laws Karazin for the first time, it would be “awkward.” Mike’s mother, who had never associated with black people in her life, and his father, a judge, probably saw his share of trifling black folks and had his antenna up for any possible hoodrat-iness. Introductions went all around, and I was my friendliest, bubbliest self. Mike’s father gave a terse greeting, little eye contact….
He probably was a bit uncomfortable, as was everyone else at the table, except for Mike, says he doesn’t remember being nervous. In fact, he can’t remember a thing about that day, except for the meeting-me-at-the-airport part. I was grateful for bedtime, but the next day was worse.
Someone—I can’t remember who—made an offhand remark about black people and . . . I lost it. Not in front of them, but I excused myself to weep in Mike’s older brother’s childhood room. I cried, then I got it together. No one was mean, no one was rude, but they were clearly uncomfortable, and so was I.
If it was going to be up to me to break the ice, I had the ice pick.
That was then. Now, according to her bio note on BeyondBlackWhite, Karazin has written for Woman’s Day, Better Homes & Gardens, Ebony/Jet.com, and
Reuters News Service.
“Most importantly,” though, she is “a mother of four children– three of them biracial– and has been married to her husband, Michael, (who just happens to be white) for (almost) ten happy, hectic years.”
I look forward to reading Swirling, and seeing how the wedding went.