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An issue that is not just black or white

Two years ago, a white friend of mine became engaged to a black man. When she introduced him to our circle of friends, I watched people's reactions. After all, interracial marriage is still a touchy subject for some.

Fortunately, there were no forced smiles, and no nasty comments later. Race was never mentioned.

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But the story might have been different 20 years ago, when I was growing up in New Hampshire. Minorities made up just 2 percent of my high school class. And my parents weren't thrilled when they learned my first love was biracial: half-white, half-Vietnamese.

My boyfriend was popular, a top athlete. He had jet black hair and eyes so dark you couldn't tell where the pupils ended and the irises began. To some, he looked exotic. To me, he was just plain Andy.

But my parents never saw things my way. The fact that his father was Jewish and his mother Buddhist didn't help matters.

One day my mom picked me up at his house. "Wouldn't you be happier with a Christian boy?" she said. I knew she meant "white boy."

I couldn't understand why she didn't see him through my eyes. And the fact that she wanted me to view things her way made me more determined to stick with the relationship, even though I knew that Andy and I had little in common.

My friend ended up breaking off her engagement, but she wouldn't hesitate to marry a black man. "If someone doesn't like it, that's their problem," she says.

I'd have to really think about it, myself. Interracial marriages are more accepted today, as the couples in the story at right explain. But they still crash into other people's perceptions. It takes courage to face constant opposition, especially when it comes from your family.