“Several months ago I got engaged to a wonderful, warm, kindhearted, generous man who is an identical twin and happens to be white. I’m black. We were told that his twin brother’s wife did not approve of interracial dating and that she would not be in the same house (his parents’ for dinner) I was in.
“The night of the proposal, his twin called him and said many nasty things about me and the relationship that put a damper on the night when we should have been celebrating. Since then, his twin has forbidden me from coming to family events that the parents host, and he says that he and his wife will not attend if we’re there. Their parents know about his feelings toward me and insist that they don’t agree (I don’t know if they know about the ‘forbidding’ part).
“The puzzler to me is that the twins grew up with a black best friend whose sister they both gave away at her wedding. I never would have taken my fiance’s brother for a racist. I don’t know why this causes me so much pain.
“Do I invite him to the wedding? Do I attend family events in spite of the hostility? Please help; the stamps are almost on the ‘save the date’ cards. —Wedding Worries
You don’t know why it causes you so much pain? I have an idea. Because someone close to you both hates and antagonizes you because of your race and is trying to interfere with your life as a result, and that’s awful. No mystery there. You’re not weird for being upset by this seemingly out-of-nowhere display of hostility from your husband’s brother. (We’ll just call him Racist Twin to keep things straight.)
The first thing I want to clear up is whether your husband finds this as painful as you do. I hope so. You didn’t mention his feelings, but if you told me he took a “no big deal” stance toward Racist Twin’s antics, I’d tell you to question whether he was the type of person you wanted to marry. After all, you want to make sure you’re signing up for a life with someone who’s on the same page as you and supports you, since this probably won’t be the last time someone takes issue with your relationship.
While fewer people than ever waste time worrying about the color palette of marriages that they’re not in (explaining why all of us who haven’t been in comas since 1950 scoffed when Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen recently proclaimed, “People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York—a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children”), there are still plenty of Americans who are behind the times, uninformed, backward and bigoted. (I’d choose those four descriptors over “conventional.” You probably would, too.)
But assuming that your fiance is no more at peace with his newly bigoted brother (and his wife) than you are, then, yes, you should still marry him. It would be a tragedy to let two bad relatives deprive you of a lifetime of happiness. More than that—I don’t really like the idea of their winning this whole thing by tearing your relationship apart.