Carolyn Vines, The Netherlands – Inspiration from the Land of Tulips, Windmills and Wooden Shoes
Carolyn Vines is an all American living in a place she could never have fathomed growing up in her native Indianapolis. Her opportunities pursuing her education led her around the country, world and back again. Somewhere in her sojourn, Carolyn met the love of her life and found herself in the Netherlands living, studying, working, and having a family. In her book, black and (A)broad: traveling beyond the limitations of identity (released August 2010) Carolyn Vines details her life as an American expatriate living in the Netherlands. She shares her inspirations, multicultural family and life. Passionate about language, Carolyn speaks Spanish and Dutch fluently. The book, Carolyn’s memoir, covers her twenty years’ living and traveling abroad and shares how she was inspired to transcend the limitations of her identity as a black woman.
In addition to being an author, Carolyn Vines is also an editor, and award-winning blogger and radio talk show host. We can see her work published in local Dutch newspapers and in The Telegraph. She also has the distinct credit for having translated a novel by a critically acclaimed Curaçaoan author that delves into the question of post-colonial identity. Carolyn earned an MA in Latin American literature from the University of Maryland, College Park, where she was later admitted into doctoral candidacy. She has taught Spanish, English and literature in universities in the US and in the Netherlands. Enjoy Carolyn’s story and be inspired! Carolyn’s blog is black and (A)broad.
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
What is your husband’s ethnicity?
He is Dutch
How did you meet?
At the Jefferson Hotel in Washington, DC. He had just finished the hotel school in The Hague and had taken on a position as manager of food and beverage. I was a graduate student at the University of Maryland. Some friends and I used to go to the bar at the Jefferson because one of our colleagues tended bar and would give us free drinks. That’s how I met Vinz.
And how long had you known him when you got married?
About 7 years.
When were you married?
May 2, 2003
Was this your first interracial relationship?
How did you feel about interracial marriage and relationships before you were in one?
Do you feel any different about interracial marriage and relationships now?
Did you face skeptics and criticism from friends or family about your interracial marriage?
Do you recall how you first informed your friends and family of your interracial relationship and subsequent marriage?
I don’t, really. I probably just told them I was dating a man from The Netherlands. “Where?” they probably asked. I don’t think any of them were surprised when I told them I was moving with him to Holland.
What about your husband’s family —- did you or he face any criticism from them?
The only criticism we faced was that Americans re-elected Bush!
How was it handled?
Other than politics (I was adamantly anti-Bush, as was Vinz) there was no criticism.
Have you ever felt pressure or experienced a significant difference between your non-interracial and interracial relationships?
No, but I’ve always found white men more interesting and sexy. Then again, maybe I never met the right black man!
Do you feel that there are societal criticisms and pressures concerning interracial relationships in the US and or Holland or (Netherlands)?
The only time I feel self-conscious or on edge with my husband and our mixed kids is when we’re traveling in the States. I don’t think I need to mention the criticisms…we all know those. They don’t exist in Holland (at least not to my knowledge).
Do you attribute or connect it to negative images of blacks from slavery or something else?
Yes, it started then but it’s become institutionalized in America. I don’t think that negative image of blacks will ever change.
Do you have children?
Yes, two little girls.
Does race figure into child rearing for you?
Sure it does. I’m trying to show my girls the most positive aspects of their mother’s culture. I’m teaching them to accept their mixed bodies as well as their two cultures equally. As they get older I plan to teach them black history – my way and engage them in discussions about why blacks are viewed so negatively and why we allow ourselves to live up to that negativity.
When your children first experience racism, what will be your advice will be to them?
I don’t know, to be honest. I hope I’ll remind them of all the beautiful things about themselves and explain that racism exists, why I think it exists and that they have to let it go. Don’t let other people define you.
Where do you live?
Do you think in general is a good place for interracial couples and families?
I can’t think of a better place for interracial couples and/or families.
What made you decide to live abroad and do you have any regrets?
I wanted to pursue my relationship with my then-boyfriend. He wanted to move back home and asked me to go with him. I had nothing to lose, so I went with him. I have absolutely no regrets.
Do you work outside the home?
Yes and no. I work from home as a freelance writer, editor and translator.
What do you do for fun?
Go on dates with my husband; attend monthly gatherings with my black social networking group SisterSistah; Zumba;
Do you have any suggestions for black women just entering interracial relationships?
It would be the same as for any other relationship: communication is key. If you can’t or don’t talk about even the small things, you’re doomed to be divorced quicker than you’d like.
Originally posted on the Black Women Deserve Better Blog
Windmill De Kameel in Schiedam, Netherlands