When Kafi and Rudy Carrasco fill out forms, they often have to answer with "none of the above." They can handle questions about age and education. Rudy's a 29-year-old social worker and a graduate of Stanford. Kafi (pronounced KAH-fee) is a 24-year-old second-grade school teacher with a master's degree. Beyond that, they don't fit the standard categories.
Kafi and Rudy live in a Southern California community where Latino and black tensions are rising as the growing Latino population threatens to displace black families and workers. The Carrascos' cross-cultural marriage makes a strong public statement of black/brown harmony in a neighborhood where that message is sorely needed.
Last year, Rudy became associate director of the Harambee Christian Family Center, where the community's children and youth are developed for leadership through discipleship and education. Kafi is also investing her life in young people. At the Cleveland Elementary School, which is made up mostly of African-American and Latino students, she affirms both cultures in her classroom.
Neighbors and friends often are curious about the Carrascos' marriage. "The first thing we tell them is that we are intercultural, not interracial," explains Kafi. Rudy goes on, "Which usually leads to a discussion about the concept of race and how Latinos are an interracial population to begin with. Latinos and African-Americans have many cultural similarities, such as a view of life that is much more communal than it is individualistic. When people see the common bonds rather than the differences, it goes a long way toward getting beyond the ethnic barriers."1