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Love Lost Through Fear of Family Bigotry

hen I was in undergrad at Baylor University in the early 1990s, I met this awesome girl named Joyce Li. I'd never dated an Asian girl, nor had I ever given any particular thought about Asian women one way or another. However, Joyce had a certain energy about her which drew her to me the moment she first set foot into my Corporate Finance class in the Hankamer School of Business.

To my surprise, she sat right next to me on the front row and began talking to me casually as if I were an old friend. Before Dr. Truett got there, we'd shared a few pieces of our life stories, but when class started I was wanting to hear more about her and less about "moral hazard" problems. When class ended, I asked her if she would meet me for lunch at Penland Cafeteria, and she gave me a strong yes with a smile. I was amazed at how fast an hour and a half could fly when we were talking.

Lunch led to a date to the movies later that week, which led to dates to church, dinners, flag football and other campus mixers along the way. By the time November got there, we were head over heels in love and seemingly well on our way to a serious romance.

However, when Thanksgiving came, Joyce wanted to invite me up to Richardson to meet her family, but there was a problem--the fact that her dad was a bigot who hated White men dating Asian women. He viewed any Asian women who'd date a White man as a whore and would disown his daughter for dating me. She hadn't told me about this at first because she didn't think we'd ever be serious and she'd always figured she'd date or marry an Asian man. However, this was a serious issue which conflicted with her Christian faith and just common sense.

She wanted to take some time to pray about it, and I was fine with that. What she didn't realize was that my mother was just as bigoted against White people marrying or dating outside their race and told me once as a kid she'd throw me out of the house if I ever went "whoring around with some non-White tramp."

Joyce and I continued to see each other during Finals and even managed to sneak in a small Christmas celebration together before we went home. It was a difficult break because we couldn't call each other often thanks to her dad mostly. My mom thought that Joyce was from a "Robert E Lee" family instead of a "Bruce Lee" family and since she hadn't seen a picture, I just let her believe what she wanted.

Coming back in January, it was such a relief to be able to talk on the phone, go for coffee, be seen in public, etc. without fear of her dad. Until the day he paid her a surprise visit and caught the two of us kissing good night in the lobby of Dawson Hall. He was livid to say the least--he tried smack her across the face in front of several people, but I got in between them and took the whack instead. He cursed her out in Cantonese and told me that if he ever found out I was within 100 yards of his daughter he would kill me where I stood. Joyce made me get the Hell out of there, but I almost didnt' because I was afraid he would hurt her. However, she insisted through teary eyes that I should go, and I did.

I didn't hear from her for over a week. When I finally did, she told me that her dad had given her an ultimatum to either dump me or to be cut off from the family. She had gotten on the phone to her mom and brother, who said they would support her as long as I was a "good man" but this issue with her father was tearing her up. I told her I'd be there for her no matter what. We kept on dating, but were more discreet after that.

Finally, her father's temper got the better of him and he had a heart attack. Joyce was a wreck, so I stepped in. I got her and her gear together, drove down to Bryan-College Station to get her brother who didn't have a car and drove them up to Dallas to be with him at Presbyterian Hospital. I helped her mom take care of business at their jewelry store while she was occupied and pretty much put myself at their disposal. When her dad finally recovered, her mom went on and on to him about all I had done and how his bigotry was going to be the death of him, so he relented and said "Since this gwai lau has proven to be good, I will allow this, but that's it!"

After her dad was recovering Joyce told me "If we have to go through this with one of your parents, I think I'll just break up with you." I thought that she was serious about that, and as my mom was the White female version of her dad, I did everything in my power to keep my folks from meeting her. However, the longer I was with Joyce, the more my mom and dad kept on asking questions. This went on for a while.

The economy slid into a post-Gulf War recession and I was not getting any offers from all the interviews I was going to. I was afraid I'd end up out on the street with no home and no girlfriend so I didn't know what else to do. Rather than sack up and be a man, I was a coward--I began to back away from Joyce little by little until the semester ended and I graduated.

I went home to Huntsville and began looking for Jobs in Dallas and Austin, but without much luck. However, I missed Joyce like crazy but it had been almost two months since we'd last spoken. Finally, I called her out of the blue and she hung up on me. After three other calls, I got her on the phone and said "I need to talk with you. Please let me drive up and give me an hour." She reluctantly agreed and I was up there in less than 3 hours. We met at our favorite Mexican restaurante where I told her about my mom and how what she said had scared me. I told her how I was afraid of being out of school with no job and homeless because of my mom disowning me and her breaking up with me. However, I also said that I realized that she was more important to me than this other stuff and I was begging her for another chance.

Joyce sighed and said "If you had called me six weeks ago, I would have said okay. However, you pushed me away little by little and gave no explanation. You didn't return my calls. You weren't in your usual spots at the library, the business school or elsewhere. When I did reach you, you said you were too busy with studying and would reach me later. I thought that you had enjoyed your 'exotic experience' and were tired of me. My dad went on about how rotten you were and how you'd tricked me and the whole family. I knew that there was something else to this, but you were too chicken to tell it to me."

"You totally underestimated me and my love for you, Eric. I was only joking when I said that. Did you really think after all you went through with my dad for me that I wouldn't have done the same for you with your mom? Didn't you think that I would have let you come stay with us if your folks had thrown you out? I can't believe you would have underestimated me so much, Eric."

"I took all this time getting over you. You broke my heart. You didn't have to. If you would have sacked up and told me, we would still be together and I wouldn't have hurt so bad. I finally got over you and started dating someone else about a month ago. He's White--not that it matters, but you know what, he's no coward. I met his folks last weekend at their church and they were so nice to me. Should I just dump him now because you finally showed some courage? I don't think so--that wouldn't be right, would it? I'm sorry, I don't really want to walk away from you, Eric, but you deserve this. Goodbye."

As she walked out the door, my heart was crushed. I was stupid--I let my mom's bigotry get in the way of my one true love. Angry, I drove back to Huntsville, went to my room and got out my photo album I'd kept hidden all that time. I went to my mom and told her off, showing pictures of me and Joyce and telling her what a bigoted bitch she was, and how her bigotry and my own cowardice cost me the love of my life. My mom was appalled and about ready to throw me out.

However, she broke down and told me that she was only trying to do what seemed right for me. She'd been in love with an Hispanic man when she was in high school and was told in no uncertain terms how evil it was for the races to mix. When that man had later on been arrested and convicted for rape, she had seemingly realized that her parents were right. She later had met my father and had decided to set that same standard for her kids.

Through my own anger I said "Did it ever occur to you that he wasn't representing all Hispanic men? Or worse, that he'd been set up by your parents?" Her face turned pale--it hadn't and that made her feel worse. She then told me that whomever I dated was now fine with her--regardless of their race just as long as they were good women and treated me well.

I got a job in Dallas about a month later and moved out of the house for good. While since then I have met and dated women of many ethnic backgrounds, I have never forgotten Joyce Li. Joyce went on to marry the guy she'd started dating. Her father even walked her down the aisle when they got married. They have two kids and live in Plano now. That lucky bastard.

If there's a moral to this story it's this: don't let the racist attitudes of others influence whom you love. Love is fleeting and when it's lost, it's gone for good.
Eric Hammer
Wednesday, October 17, 2001 at 14:23:56 (PDT)

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[NOTE TO READERS: This page is closed to new input. You can post new true stories and continue discussions at the new improved Instant Polls & Comments area. --Ed.]


How sad...I hope that you'll recover from your loss w/Joyce Li.

Hopefully, fate will play its role again and find a nice lady like Joyce again for you.
Sunday, July 21, 2002 at 20:34:05 (PDT)
What a touching story. It obviously took great courage for you to acknowledge and confront this problem...many would not even have bothered. You may not have 'won' her back, but you've won a far greater battle with bigotry: a true personal victory. I hope you find your dream woman--because men like you WILL be tough and strong enough to keep a solid marriage running. Best of luck!
Asian Dominatrix
Monday, October 22, 2001 at 17:15:14 (PDT)