Howard Magazine - Page 29 - Love Is Color Blind (4)

Howard Magazine
- Page 29
Love Is Color Blind (4)

The Russells, who have since divorced, are credited with giving birth to Columbia’s first child, Charlie. A second son, David, came three years later.


“Jim Rouse loved the idea that Columbia’s first baby was a biracial baby,” Russell says fondly. “The local Giant provided us with a birthday cake. The local bank opened a bank account for Charlie. The people that we met were fantastic.”


There were small incidents, like the time a neighbor thought Charles was a moving man.


“They wound up becoming friends,” she says.


There was also the time she and Charles were confused for another interracial couple at the grocery store.


But, Russell says: “It was a harmless type of thing. It was funny. It wasn’t threatening. It was people getting used to living in an interracial community.”


The retired county administrative analyst believes that the welcoming nature of Columbia made Howard County a mecca for interracial couples.


“In the early years we attracted a large number of interracial couples because of the laws,” says Russell, referring to racial discrimination in housing elsewhere. “Our children had pretty good lives. … They did experience what we wanted them to — multiethnic experiences.”


When Ellicott City resident Avantika Gahlot began to date following her divorce, she didn’t think twice about dating a non-Indian man, who she met on the online dating site Bumble.


“To see interracial couples and kids is not an anomaly,” says the 44-year-old mother of two, who has been dating her boyfriend, a white man, for a year. “Howard County is a melting pot.”


The IT project manager says county residents are “more educated” and “more global. That breaks down barriers. It allows people to look beyond the limits.”


The Firmans, who married in 2005, say the openness they’ve experienced has been passed along to their adult children and grandchildren.


“Two of my three sons have been involved in interracial dating. One currently is,” says Jeffrey Firman. “My oldest grandson is involved in an interracial relationship.”


Interracial relationships run in the family, he says, and growing up in Howard County played a part in that. “That seems to be the norm. They grew up thinking that there’s nothing wrong with interracial relationships or dating. It’s about who they were attracted to.”