I chanced upon this video by Alice Cappelle earlier today on the politics of interracial relationships in Pocahontas, which was an excellent well-researched video as her videos usually are. Her video really got me thinking a little more on the topic, especially with the recent racist incident involving an interracial couple in Singapore, which I’m sure most of us are aware of by now.
Perhaps for many of us, what we know about Pocahontas mainly comes from the 1995 Disney animated movie. Well, at least that was the case for me. Little did I know that the movie was based on a true story about the life of a Native American woman, Pocahontas. In the movie, Pocahontas married John Smith, and in reality, Pocahontas married John Rolfe. While their names are different, both Johns were white colonisers. So their marriage might just be America’s very first interracial marriage between a Native American and a white American.
In her video, Alice explained that there were probably more factors apart from just love, which led to their marriage. One of these factors was diplomacy. Pocahontas was aware of the growing tensions between both parties and she understood that this marriage could be a means to ease tensions and create a space for more communication and compromise between both parties. Other than that, of course, she was also initially kidnapped by the colonisers, so Stockholm syndrome possibly? Well, if you ask me, I’d like to believe it was true love.
Pocahontas aside, Alice also mentioned that in the 19th century, while Thomas Jefferson was president, one of the strategies he envisioned to deal with the “Indian Problem” was forced assimilation through marriage. So, interracial marriages back then probably wasn’t too motivated by love either.
Circling back to interracial marriage in the modern-day, I think we’ve come a long way. I think we’re fortunate enough to live in a society where interracial marriages are not driven by external factors such as diplomacy or forced assimilation. And in most societies, it’s almost not taboo anymore. Which is great! I think it’s a big deal that interracial marriages today can be, first and foremost, based on love.