Frank Relationships Radio Show: Inter-racial Relationships

Sunday, Apr. 7th 2013 11:53 PM

 

What are the issues that are unique to an inter-racial couple? We’ve got a television show that seeks to answer that question … and the creators to guide us through their experience living the life … on this week’s edition of Frank Relationships.


FRANK RELATIONSHIPS: INTER-RACIAL RELATIONSHIPS
Guests: Michael Herl, Yvette Saunders
Date: April 02, 2013

Frank: What are the issues that are unique to an interracial couple? We’ve got a television show that seeks to answer that question and the creators to guide us through their experience living the life and creating the show, on this week’s edition of Frank Relationships.

Welcome to Frank Relationships, where we provide a candidate fresh and frank look into relationships with goals of acceptance, respect and flexibility. I’m Frank Love and you can find me, my blog and my various social media incarnations at franklove.com.

Once, again I’m joined by my gorgeous, genius co-host, Dr. Gayl.

Dr. Gayl: Hey, Frank.

Frank: Hey, hey, hey. She’s got a doctorate and she’s not afraid to use it. What’s up co-host?

Dr. Gayl: What’s going on?

Frank: Every relationship comes with its unique benefits and challenges. Some have difficulties because they’re of the same race, others benefit because they’re of the same sex.

Today’s romantic pair is bi-racial and they’re the co-creators of Shades of Gray, a web series that tells the story of a couple, similar to theirs and the keys to long-lasting relationships.

Indeed, we’re about to get all their particulars of their life and their show. So join me as Michael Herl and Yvette Saunders, bring us an inter-racial prospective on love, life and television. Welcome to the show folks.

Yvette: Good morning. Thank you.

Michael: Good morning.

Dr. Gayl: Good morning.

Frank: What’s the biggest challenge that you all have faced as an inter-racial couple?

Michael: I would say because of our different upbringings, we look at certain aspects of things and our different prospective and it helps bring us closer together.

Frank: Like what? What’s one of those issues?

Michael: One of the biggest one’s is cultural view on pets, for an example. White men or white in general are usually very close to their pets and they kind of treat them as family, where–

Yvette: Whereas when I grew up, the dog was outside on a chain and he ate whatever leftovers we had, and our dogs all had jobs. They were there to protect us and that was pretty much it. They didn’t sleep in the bed or sit on my lap. They working.

Frank: So Michael, where’d you grow up?

Michael: I was born in Ohio. I grew up In California, so it was kind of a split.

Frank: And Yvette, you?

Yvette: I grew up in West Virginia in Harpers Ferry. It’s a suburb of a suburb of a suburb of Washington, D C.

Frank: Yes, it is.

Dr. Gayl: How long have you guys been here?

Yvette: I’ve been in northern Virginia ever since I graduated from college in about 1989.

Dr. Gayl: Okay.

Michael: I was passing through in 2004 and I’m still passing through.

Frank: And what’d you see some dark cutie along the way as you were passing through and decided to stay?

Michael: Yeah, yep that was it.

Frank: Okay. So, where’s the dog?

Michael: In my lap.

Frank: Alright, one point for the man.

Dr. Gayl: No matter what race, right?

Frank: How’d you guys come to that agreement?

Yvette: Well, he basically said it was a deal breaker and either I would accept him and his dog, Nicky, who’s not actually a dog I don’t think–that I would accept him and his dog, basically on his terms. That was the one thing that was non-negotiable from his standpoint. And as an older person, when we got Into a relationship, I had to decide what was important to me and I decided I can live with It.

Frank: You guys care to share your ages?

Yvette: Yep, I’m 49.

Michael: I’m 50.

Frank: Okay.

Dr. Gayl: Okay. And so how long have you guys been together?

Yvette: We’ve been together for eight years, married for five.

Dr. Gayl: Okay, and what about your previous lives and previous relationships?

Michael: I’m twice divorced. My first wife was African American, my second wife was Asian and Yvette’s my third.

Yvette: And I’m divorced once. I was married to a black guy for only about two years. That didn’t work out so well. Prior to that I was in a long-term relationship over 10 years with a black guy that I never married, but we were together for seven.

Dr. Gayl: And Yvette, is this your first inter-racial relationship?

Yvette: No, growing up in Harper’s Ferry, I would say Harper’s Ferry is predominately white. There are quite a few black people there, but the majority is white. So, growing up In high school we dated white guys and I dated white guys in college and stuff, but I always thought In my mind that I would marry a black guy. That was always my saying.

My sister’s married to a white man and they’ve been married forever, but I always said, “I’m going to marry a black guy.” So this was not in the plan.

Frank: Well, one of the things we have not established is Michael’s race. What is that?

Michael: White.

Frank: Okay.

Yvette: He’s a white guy.

Frank: Alright. How’d you guys meet?

Yvette: Well, we met online. We met on the Yahoo personals back in 2003. I’m sorry, 2005. I don’t know why I keep thinking 2003. We met on Yahoo personals back in 2005. It was a cold, dark, stormy night and I was online and I was just winking. It’s a a way of touching somebody online dating. I was winking several men and I sent Michael a wink and about two weeks later he contacted me and we went on a date in and the rest is history.

Dr. Gayl: A success online dating story, huh?

Yvette: Yep.

Dr. Gayl: And Michael, since you have been married twice before in both inter-racial relationships, were you specifically looking for a black woman when you were online dating?

Michael: No. Really it wasn’t about, to me, skin color or race.

Dr Gayl: Okay. So–

Michael: Well, I think the only reason I had paused when she winked me was she has dreadlocks and I never dated or really knew a person that close with dreadlocks. So, it was a momentary hesitation. I was like “Wow.”

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Michael: “She’s got dreadlocks. I’m not sure how to handle that one.”

Dr. Gayl: Right and you guys’ relationship is not, as you stated, you weren’t specifically looking for someone of a different race, so you guys just happen to fit together because you enjoyed each other’s company or you had several things in common. Wasn’t specific about race, right?

Yvette: That’s correct.

Michael: Yes.

Dr. Gayl: Okay.

Michael: And what our show even promotes is it’s about commonality and what makes you work together.

Dr. Gayl: Right. And how do you guys work together? How do you make your relationship work since it sounds like you guys come from diverse backgrounds.

Yvette: I think one of the keys to our relationship is the fact that we have been In previous relationships and we were older when got together. So, the stuff that’s important to you at 20 doesn’t mean anything at 40 or it may not mean anything at 40. So, I think we’re both willing to compromise, maybe him more than me and we both care about each other deeply and we know that regardless of what’s going on that’s the key to the relationship is that we love each other and the rest of it really doesn’t matter.

Frank: I find that to be the case also. Where things that mattered when I was 20, 25 that I was so dogmatic about now at 48, they mean so much less.

Yvette: Right.

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Yvette: I’m not sure I would have done the dog thing at 20, but I’m doing it now and it’s not a big deal.

Dr. Gayl: Right and that seems to be a commonality no matter what ethnicity or background or race or culture you come from.

Yvette: Yep.

Frank: Tell us about your up bringing.

Yvette: Well, I was raised by a single black mother, very strong-willed and she taught us to be extremely independent. I have a Bachelor’s degree in political science and I was lucky enough through my job to be able to travel and see most of the world, so I have a very open worldview. That’s me. What about you, Mike?

Frank: Well, hold it. Tell us about this open worldview. Now, let’s hear how open your worldview was when you weren’t willing to get down with dogs.

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Yvette: Oh yeah, I was opposed to that position at 20. I don’t know how that would’ve happened, but I’ve just been very blessed. I’ve been to India and I’ve been to Brazil and I’ve seen really poor and I’ve seen really rich and I think that I look at things through the view of–I try to look at things really open and I try not to be closed in on anything. Now, of course, we’re always going to have the things we–everybody has deal breakers, but I try to really approach things from an open point of view and not make judgments before I enter into things.

Frank: Okay.

Yvette: I think that would be it. For instance, my first husband, I guess I’m going to put it out there. My first husband was bi-sexual. And I would say that was the primary reason why we didn’t make it, because he was grappling with his sexuality and while he said he wanted to be in a relationship with me, he still wasn’t sure about the rest of it.

So, I was open to that and I was willing to explore that, but in the end he didn’t feel like he could deal in a straight relationship. And he said he didn’t think he could be in a gay relationship, so he was grappling with his own sexuality.

Dr. Gayl: Now were you aware of that when you guys got married?

Yvette: Oh, absolutely. We had been really good friends and we had worked in the same place and we both traveled a lot and traveled a lot together and we clicked so well we thought that that’s all that mattered. But there are–sexuality is a huge thing and that was one thing he couldn’t get past, so it didn’t work out.

Dr. Gayl: Okay.

Frank: So it was him that couldn’t get past it?

Yvette: Well, he said that he had problems, because he felt like he was denying a part of himself and because he couldn’t deal with or he didn’t have a good self-awareness of his sexuality–this is me. I’m not a psychiatrist, so I’ll say that upfront, but I didn’t think that he wasn’t very aware of his sexuality and so he became extremely depressed and so the relationship didn’t work, because I was living with a depressed man who had lost his job and–

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Yvette: Losing his [pajamas] 12:03 and that sort of thing. But I think, ultimately, it was his sexuality that caused those issues.

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Frank: Got it.

Dr. Gayl: And Michael, tell us about your background.

Michael: Well, I grew up also with a single working mother. She did date any race. To her race wasn’t important, so to me that was instilled in an early age. After that I joined the military for 13 years and I also traveled the world from Europe to Panama to Korea. And once I got out I completed my degrees and moved forward after that and the time in the military was both times when I had my first two marriages.

Dr. Gayl: So what was–

Michael: And–

Dr. Gayl: I’m sorry, go ahead.

Michael: Yes. Oh, and then once I got out I just moved on with my career and up to this point.

Dr. Gayl: Now what were the difficulties in your first two relationships and marriages that caused it to not work out, do you think?

Michael: I think the first one I got sent overseas by myself and we were both real young and I made the mistake of not coming back. I was gone for a year. I made a mistake of not coming back in the midway point, because we had talked over the phone and everything was fine. When I came back she was involved with someone else, so then we started the ugly battle for a divorce.

And I always call that my sister experience, because she showed me how unpleasant a divorce can be the hard way and–

Frank: So well, was that a problem for you or was it more problem for her? Who was the more understanding in your concept?

Michael: I was understanding and I was willing to forgive and move on. She was not. She wanted out but on her terms and that’s what started about an 18 month divorce battle, which should have been resolved in the first month or two.

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Frank: Any children?

Michael: She had a child.

Dr. Gayl: So you guys didn’t have children together?

Michael: No.

Dr. Gayl: Did you have children with your second marriage?

Michael: No, she also had children, so I wasn’t interested in having children at any time.

Dr. Gayl: Okay.

Frank: And do you remain in touch with either of them?

Michael: No, after the divorce with both, because the second divorce was almost as bad as the first one, we all cut contacts with each and don’t keep in touch.

Dr. Gayl: Okay. And Yvette, do you have children?

Yvette: I do not [get them] 14:36.

Dr. Gayl: Okay.

Frank: Interesting, both of you all. Okay.

Yvette: And that was a key. That was my deal–I won’t say deal breaker, but when I was online I was trying to locate a gentleman that not only probably didn’t have kids, but didn’t want anymore kids either. I never really had the parenting bug, so–

Dr. Gayl: So, it all seemed to work out for you guys.

Yvette: It did. It did indeed.

Dr. Gayl: Okay.

Michael: I also wasn’t looking to have kids. If it happened, it happened, if it didn’t, to me that was good too.

Dr. Gayl: Okay. So the universe worked out for you guys?

Yvette: Yes, it did.

Michael: Yes.

Dr. Gayl: Now what made you guys open to enter another relationship? Particularly another inter-racial relationship? And I ask that, because I wonder, did you guys or particularly Michael, did you have any or experience any discrimination in your first two interracial relationships?

Michael: My first wife, I can say probably not. My second wife was very racist.

Dr. Gayl: Oh.

Michael: Extremely, and that kind of stunned me, because she was actually born in Korea and raised in Korea and came to the States but she had a strong dislike for blacks.

Frank: Interesting.

Michael: Which rubbed me the wrong way, because I was raised more flexible.

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Michael: That kind of put–I wouldn’t say put a strain, because it was not an issue that I was willing to fight over that much, because we had other problems going on but the comments she would make would stun me a lot of times.

Frank: What were her justifications?

Michael: I don’t know. She just had this thing about blacks. She just didn’t like them.

Frank: Interesting.

Michael: Didn’t want to talk to them, didn’t want to associate with them, didn’t have any thing good to say about anything.

Frank: And what kind of social stigma did you encounter being in the military and being in an inter-racial relationship?

Michael: I would say none. My mom thinks that it may have hampered my career, because I was at first, married to a black woman and then a Korean, so she thought that, that would impact my progression. I didn’t see it that way. I thought the military was very open to that and no one ever said nothing, no one ever implied anything about my relationships.

Dr. Gayl: And it seems to be–I would think that the military would be more open and more liberal with regard to diverse backgrounds and different types of relationships.

Michael: I found that to be true, because I even knew gays in the military. Then they weren’t coming out, but you knew who they were and, again, we had the utmost respect for them and their careers were not hampered that I noticed.

Dr. Gayl: So how did your mother think that your career was hampered by that or–

Michael: Because I was married to bi-racials and in her mind–she’s 70–

Dr. Gayl: Okay.

Michael: So to her the key leaders in the military were her age or older and didn’t have the open minds that she raised me with.

Dr. Gayl: So, it’s interesting to me, because you said initially stated that your mom raised you guys to be pretty open and I guess be blind to different races and different backgrounds, but at the same time, she felt that by you being married to someone of a different race, it kind of caused your career to not go as far as she thought it could be.

Michael: Yes.

Frank: Were you an officer or the–

Michael: I was enlisted.

Frank: Okay. Okay.

Yvette: That’s the Interesting dichotomy of Michael’s mom. Well, I love her to death. Let me start by saying that, but–

Dr. Gayl: Put that out there first.

Yvette: Well, in the south we can always say, “Bless her heart,” and it’s not an insult, but she has this interesting, “I’m not racist and I dated black guys mentality,” but on the other hand, she says things like–because she said that to me, knowing I was a young professional.

When Michael and I got together she was concerned that me being with a white man would hamper my career.

Yvette: So–

Dr. Gayl: Is she the type that’s like, “I have black friends and they come over to my house?”

Yvette: I hate to say it, but a little bit. I chalk that up to her generation–

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Yvette: And while, it’s easy to be open, if you still have that stuff ingrained In you as a child–

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Yvette: And so, Michael and his mother are of Italian ancestry and she apparently was darker complected growing up and she says she was discriminated against, because she grew up in a lily white small town Ohio. So, I think she kind of understands it to an extinct and I think she uses it as a means to relate to me better.

Michael: And one of her husbands was actually black and her family disowned her.

Frank: Really.

Dr. Gayl: Wow.

Michael: Yes.

Frank: Her family In Italy or her family here In America?

Michael: Oh, in America.

Frank: Wow.

Michael: Her mother died when she was a teenager, but her father, he was like, “Don’t talk to me.”

Dr. Gayl: Wow.

Michael: After they got divorced, then they started talking again.

Dr. Gayl: Wow, and how long was she married to the black man? Do you remember?

Michael: I’m thinking four to five years, but I can’t remember.

Dr. Gayl: Okay, and do you have any inter-racial siblings?

Michael: No.

Dr. Gayl: That you know of.

Frank: Yes. You’re listening to frank relationships. We’re talking with Michael Herl and Yvette Saunders, a bi-racial couple and the co-creators of Shades of Gray, a web series that tells the story of a bi-racial couple and the key to long-lasting relationships. We haven’t really gotten into it yet, but please tell out listeners how they can find your show.

Yvette: Our show is located on Youtube and you can get to it through our website. Our website is nicmicinc.com and we have information about all of our productions there and our links to the Youtube videos for our actual TV series.

Frank: Alright. Tell us what got you interested in producing a television show or a web series about an inter-racial couple? Well, it’s clear what some of the impetus was, but how did it turn into a show?

Yvette: Well, it’s interesting, my sister lives in West Virginia and we visit quite often and in the hour long car ride, we were discussing one day, the lack of shows about bi-racial couples. We see so many bi-racial couples now, even walking through the mall or going to the movies and we were like, “Wow, they’re really not talking about it,” and we always laugh about how we got together. And we thought “Wow, it would be really cool to make a television show about bi-racial couples,” and we talked about it for a few months and then Michael started writing and started pooling it together and he kind of pulled me along and the next thing I know, we’re shooting our first episode.

Dr. Gayl: And how long have you guys been shooting or in production?

Yvette: Yeah, we started our first episode of production in November and we started probably began planning two or three months ahead of that. From a writing standpoint, we’ve been writing for probably a year.

Yvette: Yeah.

Frank: And did either of you all have a background in scriptwriting or movie production or anything of that nature?

Michael: I had the background in acting. I started acting in 2006. Taking classes in theater and also some TV shows and then I started writing scripts on books I wanted to see turned into a movie, so I developed it just as a side hobby and then when this idea came up I was already in that learning curve where I could keep going.

Yvette: And I watch a lot of television

Frank: How was the experience convincing or enrolling Yvette in doing the series, Michael?

Michael: It’s not so much the convincing. She co-created the idea, the problem happens when it went from an idea to action. That’s where she kind of hesitates or procrastinates and I have to start giving her suspense’s to keep things moving.

Dr. Gayl: So what–

Yvette: I’m the procrastinator, he’s the doer and it’s so interesting, because he’ll be like, “I’m getting ready to shoot this,” and I’m like, “Oh, my god,” and I’ll go and do what I need to do, so that we are good for the shoot. So, it’s a really interesting relationship, the way the way we work.

Dr. Gayl: So, it wasn’t really a hesitation about not wanting to do the show, it sounds like you maybe a procrastinator?

Yvette: Well, I have a day job and it’s pretty busy and *(inaudible) 23:53, but he is really into this, so for him it’s labor of love and he’s totally thinking about it, I guess, like nonstop all day everyday, whereas, I think It’s a great Idea and then I go to work.

And the next thing I know, it’s two or three days gone and I still haven’t done whatever it is I said I would do. We work really well together, because he bugs me, but he doesn’t bug me and we get it done.

Dr. Gayl: Okay, so give us some Ideas about what some topics about the shows you guys have filmed or is it a drama, is it comedy? What is it?

Yvette: It’s a sitcom and each episode takes a look at specific relationship trait and how people deal with It we age progress our actors to the future and it’s all shown as a flash back, much like, How I Met Your Mother. And in each flashback we give his side and her side. So, it’s flashback, he said, she said, its bi-racial influences.

We have two best friends as side characters that are also of different races. The female best friend is Asian and the male best friend is black and so it brings all of those different influences and the play on our relationships.

And we all know how friends affect your relationships as well, so we try to show that in the show as well. It’s really fun. Our first episode is about first impressions, how they meet and then we go on and talk about communications. We’re going to talk about sex. We’re going to talk about finances. We’re going to talk about dogs. We’re going to talk about hair, because natural hair is a whole discussion.

Dr. Gayl: Don’t I know.

Yvette: We’re going to have all those conversations and we think it will be fun, because these are real conversations that people can relate to.

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Frank: I have watched an episode and I’ve got to say, it’s very well done. Kudos to you guys.

Yvette: Thank you.

Michael: Thank you.

Frank: How do you finance it? Do you have any sponsors?

Michael: So far the financing, I approached my best friend, whose name Is Nick and told him what I want, because this is my third business venture. My other two have floggered at times, but he continues to support me. So when I came along and I told him what we had envisioned, he then volunteered to give us half the financing and I would raise the other half and that’s how we financed the first three episodes.

Yvette: It says we’re self-finance. We’re double income, no kids and so we can afford to throw some of our savings into this. Up to now, it’s all been self-financed. We’re about to post our Kick Starter project.

If you’re not familiar with Kick Starter, Kick Starter allows you to get funding from your friend’s family or your supporters to fund your project. So we finished our Kick Starter pitch this week, as a matter of fact, and we’ll be posting that this weekend. So we’re hoping to fund the remaining first season, which Is an additional seven episodes. We’re hoping to get enough money to fund those too and get those produced and posted within the next three or four months.

Frank: Is it safe to say that you all have been the other half of the funding that Michael talked about?

Yvette: Yeah. Yes, that’s absolutely safe to say.

Frank: Okay.

Michael: Yes.

Frank: Lisa Raye, she has a web series that has taken off. It’s gotten quite a bit of acclaim and my understanding is she’s about to do something with Shonda Rhimes, the–

Yvette: Awesome.

Frank: Creator of Scandal. Have you seen her show? Any thoughts on her show and is it a show that you would like to have similar success? You want your show to similar? Thoughts on her?

Yvette: Her show is–is she the awkward black girl?

Frank: Yes, awkward black girl, exactly.

Yvette: Yeah, I love her series. It is funny, it’s irreverent. It’s applicable. I love her stuff. And yeah, I would love to see us get to that kind of level of viewership.

I think she’s in the millions of hits, so she has done very well. We look In a lot of other web series to get Ideas for promotions and for ideas for show ideas, so she was one of the first ones that I checked out as a how-to guide of how to do this.

Frank: How often do you all post episodes?

Yvette: Well, right now, we’re in slow mode, so we’ve been trying to do once a month. We posted one in February.

Our debut episode was posted on Valentine’s Day and then one in March and then we’re about to post our third episode in the middle of April.

Frank: If one of our listeners was interested in contributing or volunteer acting, volunteering behind the scenes or anything, how would they find you?

Yvette: I would say to use our web site. We have a “contact us” feature on the web site, where they could easily fill out the form and tell us what they’re interested in and we will then contact them back. They’ll send us an email, we’ll contact them back and we’ll go from there.

We’re always needing actors, we need people that help during shoot days, we feed everybody, so if you–it’s a long day, but it’s usually a fun day. And when we do our Kick Starter pitch, we maybe offering walk-ons and main characters or even speaking roles based on level of contribution. So, we’re looking at doing that as means to get additional funding.

Frank: And where do you typically film? What area–

Michael: We film in Herndon and Western Virginia. A secondary goal of ours is to promote the film industry in this area through small projects and we’ve had a newspaper article done that was local and the mayor of Herndon and also the congressman for this district, both acknowledge and thanked us for putting Herndon on the map as far as film went.

Frank: Alright, Herndon’s about to become the new L.A. Without acceptance the level of acceptance that you received from each of your families respectively, would have even considered being an inter-racial relationship?

Michael: Without–

Frank: Yes.

Michael: The acceptance?

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Frank: Yes.

Michael: I think I still would have just for the fact that the military opened my eyes and prospective on a lot of things. And to me, it’s not about the race, it’s about the person. And I always see things that way.

Dr. Gayl: And, you know, we live in a different society now, so do you think it’s easier to say that now, Michael, verses 10 or 20 years ago?

Michael: Yes. Yes, because I know like my father, it’s a very distant kind of cold relationship and I think a lot of that has to do with my inter-racial marriages and dating.

Dr. Gayl: Oh, really?

Michael: Yes, it’s very formal, but he was not in my life for a lot of times, so some of that’s contributed to that.

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Michael: But even with inter-racial marriages that I’ve had, there’s been no effort to get closer to me. He met the Korean one, he never met Yvette or he never met my first wife.

Dr. Gayl: Do you talk to him, Yvette?

Yvette: We don’t actually converse, but he’s always very cordial, like when he sends Michael mail, he always acknowledges me and says to say, “Hi,” to me and online they’ve had a couple of correspondence and I notice that he’s always very cordial to me. But we have never met and we have never spoken directly.

Dr. Gayl: Okay.

Frank: Okay.

Yvette: Now me growing up, growing up in that area of West Virginia–it is West Virginia

Dr.. Gayl: Right. Right, right, right.

Yvette: And I did date some white guys in school and I remember when I was a senior in high school I dated a gentleman and we had to hide, because he didn’t want to be seen places where his family may see him with me and deduce that we were together. And I remember I did that for maybe one or two months and then I broke it off, because I said, “I’m not going to do this if I got to hide it.”

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Yvette: And so I just remember that as we had a lot of bi-racial couples in school and it was not a big deal. I graduated from high school in ’82, so I guess the times have changed. It’s much easier to be in a bi-racial relationship. What matters is that the guys doesn’t beat you or he doesn’t steal anything or he’s not in jail or any of that stuff to me. What matters is that I found somebody that I can spend the rest of my life with.

Dr. Gayl: Now why didn’t you guys want to have children, either one of you?

Michael: I don’t have that parental bug either.

Yvette: I don’t know. I have a very difficult relationship with my biological family. I was not raised by my biological family. I was raised outside of that and it was very tough and I would spend a lot of time disappointed and I think over the years, I just remember thinking, “I don’t want to do that to a child.”

Dr. Gayl: What do you mean?

Yvette: I probably need some therapy on this.

Frank: Were you adopted or you were raised by your church or your aunts or what?

Yvette: My mother came from one of the prominent, if you want to call it that, black families in Harpers Ferry. They were land owning and they’d been there for 100 of years and she went to Washington and she had these relationships and she–as a product of one of the relationships–she had me and my sister. I have a twin.

Dr. Gayl: Okay.

Yvette: And when we were born we were preemies and we were sick, so she brought us back to West Virginia to be nursed back to health. Not by a family member, but by another woman in town who was known for taking in foster kids.

And so that is the woman that raised us our entire life. In the beginning of our relationship, she came to visit us quite frequently, but by the time we were five or six the visits stretched out further and further and by the time we were probably 10 or 11, we only saw her once every few years.

Frank: And so–

Yvette: And so, I remember, and this is like so sad, but I remember she’d say, she’s coming and I’d sit at the window waiting for her and she’d never show up and over it just built up in me that I will never do this anyone. You know, as a child, you’re like–

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Yvette: “When I grow up I’m going to do that,” and I remember having this conversation with myself.

Dr. Gayl: So even though you didn’t have a relationship with your biological mom, what about your family members? You didn’t know them or interact with them?

Yvette: It was really Interesting, my cousins, we all lived in the same town. We had this weird two-family relationship, so the lady that raised us, we felt as though we were part of her family, but as well as our biological family was also in town and we visited them and had those relationships as well, so it was really complicated growing up. And I had to be the one, because I had an older sister as well who grew up with us and I was the one that looked exactly like my biological mother and so there was–you know, how the old black folks are. There was some tension there, because it was always, “You’re just like your mother,” which–

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Yvette: Is not a good thing to hear when your mother abandoned you.

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Yvette: It was tough. It was tough, but I went into books and became pretty educated and used that as my means of escape.

Dr. Gayl: Right. Now does your sister have children? I know you–

Yvette: She does.

Dr. Gayl: Stated that she had been married for several years. So she does have children?

Yvette: My older sister has five kids who are all adults and have kids of their own and–

Dr. Gayl: Okay.

Yvette: My twin sister has one daughter who is five years old, almost six years old.

Dr. Gayl: Okay.

Frank: And your twin is married to a white man?

Yvette: She is.

Frank: Okay.

Dr. Gayl: Okay.

Frank: Do you stay In touch with your biological mom and do you stay in touch with the woman that raised you?

Yvette: They are both deceased. But the woman that raised me, she was our life. We all stayed very in touch with her and she passed away from cancer in 1987 and that was probably the most devastating thing that ever happened to me.

Dr. Gayl: I’m sorry to hear that.

Yvette: Yeah, but when anyone loses a parent it’s devastating–

Dr. Gayl: Right, right, right.

Yvette: And then when my biological mother passed away, it was very interesting. Our family came and forced us I would say–my and I. Now my older sister had a relationship with her. But my twin sister and I, we did not, and so we attended the funeral and It was very awkward and we did what we had to do. But I really probably only saw her four or five times in my adult life.

Frank: Michael when you posted your profile online and when you connected with Yvette by responding to her wink, were you looking for a wife, a soul mate, a little something? What were you up to?

Dr. Gayl: A little something.

Michael: It was more like just a little something. My second divorce was only I would say maybe two years behind me, so at that point I was like, “I tried it twice, marriage isn’t for me.” I had two other dates between and after those marriages where I thought, “Maybe these were soul mates,” and those didn’t work out, so the whole soul mate thing was kind of rubbing the wrong way, too.

So at that point, I was just, “You know what? I just want to go out on dates and just hang out with women, but I’m not looking to get married and not looking for the soul mate thing anymore.”

Frank: And from your side of the equation, how did it turn into what you have today?

Dr. Gayl: How did it turn into a little something to a marriage thing?

Michael: It was just progressive. I mean, it was the right person, we clicked, we had the same interests, we communicated and I think that was a problem I had with the other two.

Like Yvette said, I was more mature and my approach to relationships and what I wanted and what I needed to do and my biggest thing at that point in dating–both my previous marriages, I was the only income. And my only goal was if I get into a serious relationship, it’s got to be a woman with her own career and her own success. I don’t want to be the one who’s doing everything, and at the same time, I don’t want to impede or slow her down and Yvette matched that perfectly.

Frank: Yvette, what were you up to when you winked at Michael?

Yvette: Okay, so after my marriage, short unsuccessful marriage, I had pulled a Halle Berry and said, “I wasn’t doing this no more,” and so, I was looking for a long-term relationship, a physical companion, someone to go to movies with and travel with and that sort of thing. So, I remember when we first met, I had constantly kept telling Michael, “We’re just kicking it.”

Frank: So you just wanted a little something too?

Yvette: I just wanted a steady something that one that had been tested and you know. I wouldn’t have to worry about anything like that and I just wanted something steady–

Frank: I got it.

Yvette: Steady.

Frank: I want to say, Dr. Gayl, I believe, I don’t know for sure, but I believe she thought it would only be one-sided like the only one that just wanted a little something would be the male, but clearly, that was not the case. Thank you.

Dr. Gayl: Why’d you have to say it and preface it like that?

Frank: Well, because I’m right. That’s why.

Dr. Gayl: Well, women want a little something at times too.

Frank: Yeah, but you would never know it listening to you.

Yvette: Oh, Dr. Gayl–

Frank: Yeah, Dr. Gayl’s got baggage too. We all do.

Yvette: Okay.

Michael: Okay.

Dr. Gayl: Now, wait a minute. Wait a minute.

Frank: Speaking of Halle Berry, Yvette, what are your thoughts on Halle Berry?

Dr. Gayl: And the Halle Berry syndrome.

Frank: Good God all mighty.

Yvette: I think Halle gets a bad wrap. I’m probably going to get pummeled on this. But, first of all, I give everybody the benefit of the doubt and I think Halle probably picks the wrong guys and then she gets In these wrong relationships and she gets a little excited and maybe a little–I don’t want to use the term phase it, because everyone keeps saying she’s crazy. But I think that she gets, you know, how we get when we’re pushed into a corner and we’ve made wrong choices and now we’re trying to get out of them. And it just so happens, she keeps doing it over and over again, but I think she gets a bad wrap and I think people need to leave Halle alone.

Frank: How many times can you pick the wrong guy and it have nothing to do with you?

Yvette: Oh, I’m not saying it doesn’t have anything to do with her, I just think that we do what we do and I think in the end, we have to pay or it. I just think she gets kind of a bad wrap on being–I think people think she’s like some crazy screaming mad woman. I don’t think she’s that bad, I just think she picks the wrong guy over and over and over again and she probably needs some counseling on why she’s choosing these guys that are not going to treat her well.

Frank: Yeah.

Dr. Gayl: Probably.

Frank: Michael, you got anything to add to that?

Michael: Nope.

Dr. Gayl: Michael is not like you, Frank. He has definitely learned how to play this game.

Frank: I’ve learned something or two, I just don’t know whether it’s–

Dr. Gayl: You just don’t utilize it.

Frank: Yeah.

Yvette: I would say Frank, that of all things that make Michael and I work, and this is what I didn’t when I was dating the brothers, no offense was that Michael–

Dr. Gayl: Take note, Frank.

Yvette: Michael puts up my crap and I know I have a lot of it and he just doesn’t sweat any of the small stuff and you–

Dr. Gayl: So–

Yvette: And maybe I was picking the wrong guys, but oftentimes, they would sweat the small stuff. And that’s the biggest thing I’d say I’d appreciate about Michael. Because I know I’m not perfect, I know I’m not easy. Strong black women, you know how we do, so–

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Yvette: I really appreciate that about Michael and he just ignores a lot of dumb stuff.

Frank: You’re listening to Frank Relationships. We’re talking with Michael Herl and Yvette Saunders, a bi-racial couple and the co-creators of Shades of Gray, a web series that tells the story of a bi-racial couple and the key to long-lasting relationships. Again, please tell our listeners how they can find your show.

Yvette: Our show is located at nIcmIcinc.com.

Frank: The race card. You guys ever play the race card with one another? Come on don’t, please, I got to. Tell me a good story, please?

Yvette: I probably do it more than he does.

Frank: Alright.

Yvette: Because a lot of my reasoning is, “It’s a black thing, you wouldn’t understand.”

Dr. Gayl: Right. Right, right, right.

Yvette: Now whenever I don’t want to deal with something that he’s calling me on and I’ll be like, “You know, it’s because I’m black man. You know, it’s just the way we do.”

Frank: Yvette, now I got to tell you, I’m sitting here in the studio, my man on the boards, occasionally, he’ll throw me question. And I swear to you Yvette, he wrote down, “Does either of them play the race card,” and under that “Is it ever a black thing, you don’t understand?” I mean, and he’s a white guy. That’s funny.

Yvette: That’s hilarious. That is real funny. But this thing that seems to be an issue when it comes to me is my hair. His mother actually said to me and I quote, “Well, Oprah has straight hair and she’s black.”

Dr. Gayl: Now, Yvette is your hair still dreaded or locked or is it just out and natural? How–

Yvette: It is locked. I do have dreadlocks. I’ve had them since 1998. They’re my crown and glory, as I would say.

Dr. Gayl: Okay. Let’s talk about stereotypes for a minute. Now, you stated a minute ago as strong black woman, right and oftentimes we’re stereotyped to have a little bit too much mouth and the brothers–

Frank: Stereotyped?

Dr. Gayl: Sometimes stereotyped that way.

Frank: Is there any substance to it?

Dr. Gayl: Listening to you, Frank, I don’t know. You sound like there is. However, the stereotype is that we have too much mouth and the brothers, though sometimes they just don’t want to hear it or they can shut us up or whatever, but oftentimes it’s stated that white men kind of let us get over. So, what have you guys found in your relationship? And–

Michael: She gets over.

Frank: Ha, ha, ha. She gets over, he said.

Dr. Gayl: She gets over?

Michael: She gets over.

Dr. Gayl: Okay, and elaborate on that for a little bit.

Michael: Well–

Frank: She gets over. That’s it.

Michael: I just learn to role with things a lot, because like she said earlier, in my 20’s it would’ve been more butting heads and it just depends on what she’s saying or what she’s pushing at the time, whether I’ll bite the bait or I’ll just let it slide or sometimes I call her out on stuff. And that’s one of the balances we’ve always had is, I’ve gotten to that point to where, I’m going to call you out on something if you go too far with it.

Dr. Gayl: Now–

Yvette: That’s my clue that I’ve gone too far is when he calls me on it.

Dr. Gayl: Okay. Now Mike, since you were married to a black woman before, did you find it to be the same way? Are we all mouthy and talk too much?

Frank: She was equally mouthy, he just didn’t put up with it.

Michael: I would say, yes, but she didn’t have Yvette’s confidence, but again we were both in our 20’s.

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Michael: But yeah, she was an experience.

Dr. Gayl: And are–

Michael: And she was–huh?

Dr. Gayl: Are white women more passive than we are?

Michael: No, to me, again it’s just women at that point.

Frank: Yeah, and Michael, I’ve got to jump in and help you out a little bit and say what he really–

Dr. Gayl: Here we go. Here we go.

Frank: What he really meant was, “No, all of you all talk too much.” I mean, that’s just my interpretation, maybe that’s just the–

Dr. Gayl: Whatever, Frank.

Yvette: Whatever.

Dr. Gayl: Right, right.

Michael: I always like to say crazy doesn’t have any race.

Frank: Here, here. Yvette, you talk–

Dr. Gayl: Crazy is just crazy.

Frank: Yes, crazy is crazy, in the studio and out in the world.

Dr. Gayl: Okay, Frank.

Frank: Yvette, you talked a little bit about your crap. What is some of your crap? And Michael, I love to hear what some of your crap is too.

Dr. Gayl: Because men of all races have crap too.

Frank: Yes, we do.

Michael: Yes.

Yvette: What is some of my crap? Well, I don’t know. Like, for instance, I can often contradict myself and so I’ll say one thing one minute and the next time it comes up a few months later, I’ve said something completely different. And then he calls me on it, and I’ll like be, “So,” you just kind of pawn it off or yeah. I don’t know. It’s just little things that happen all the time that I know he’s just thinking, “This woman is crazy,” but he just deals with it.

Frank: “And I love her.”

Yvette: Exactly, is the experience.

Frank: Michael, how about some of your crap? What you got?

Michael: My crap is of course, the dog. I mean, I hear it from every and everybody who knows me and knows how I am about her and my other one is, I just learn at some point I’m going to stop a lot of games or things that come my way and just start taking stands on stuff instead of letting little things roll over like I used to.

Frank: Okay.

Yvette: Frank, I have expressed instructions on what to do with Nicky’s ashes and Michael’s ashes upon their untimely death.

Dr. Gayl: Oh, my goodness.

Frank: Now, what would you do with them if their death is timely at the hands of–don’t answer that.

Yvette: Okay. Thank you.

Frank: Have you ever had the conversation with Michael around oil? Years ago, I was working out and before I started my workout I had taken a shower and I hadn’t put oil in my hair and I was about to workout with a white guy and he noticed that my hair was shining and he looked utterly like he just didn’t know what the hell was going on, so he said, he said, “What is in your hair?” And I said, “Oil.” And he said, “Why do you have oil in your hair?”

Dr. Gayl: Why’d you add oil?

Frank: “What is oil doing in your hair,” and I said–

Yvette: *(inaudible) 50:30.

Frank: “Black people put oil in their hair.” And he had never heard anything like that. Has that ever happened with you all or has there ever been a similar conversation?

Yvette: No, because I think his experience have been around a lot of people of color–

Dr. Gayl: Yeah.

Yvette: So it wasn’t anything unusual for him.

Michael: I got to introduced to that with my first wife. I mean, she put so much oil in that when she got up in the morning the pillowcase had a halo effect. And we had a talk then and she explained it all to me and I’m like, “Okay.”

Yvette: Did she have a Geri curl?

Michael: Yeah, pretty close.

Frank: Ew.

Dr. Gayl: So, what are the hair issues that you guys have, because I know there are hair issues?

Yvette: It’s mostly around, “What would your hair look like straight? Why isn’t your hair straight?”

Dr. Gayl: “Would you ever cut your dreads? Would you ever cut it?”

Yvette: You know what? He loves them long, so the one time that I cut them, oh it was bloody hell. He was so through. I’m like, “They are just hair and they will grow back,” but he was very upset with that, but it was a symbolic gesture. Once we got married, I wanted to cut out all the years that were pre-Michael, so I cut three years worth of dreads out of my hair and then I let them grow back with the energy from our relationship. But he actually was out of the country while that happened and he was very disappointed when I cut my hair. But they grew back and now they’re longer than they ever were.

But, sometimes with dreads, it is hard to keep them oiled. It’s really hard, especially on the ends, so they’re kind of hard and often in the morning Michael wakes up with dread face where he’s been laying on my hair all night and he’s got the little lines on his face. We call it “dread face.” But we don’t have a lot of issues around it.

Frank: Only a woman would know how many years went into their locks. I mean, how do you know how long your hair was three years. I mean, you can’t even see your own hair unless it’s in the mirror.

Dr. Gayl: You know what, Yvette? I have to back you and support you, because well I have natural hair, but I recently cut it. When I started over–when I transitioned into a new era in my life, so I knew how long and how much time period I had to cut off of my hair to restart.

Yvette: You know, we carrying a lot of energy in our hair, especially black women, because our hair is very important to us and it was important to me to clear all that negative energy from the previous marriage out of my head and to start fresh. So, maybe I didn’t get the exact amount out–

Dr. Gayl: But you got a rough estimate.

Frank: Let’s talk a little bit about the concept of the negative energy in your previous relationship. And I am one of those people that think that relationships and what we go through in relationships isn’t bad, it is just simply what we go through to bring us to where we are now. And I hear you use the term or look at it as negative and you relate it to your hair. Do you ever just simply say, “Hey the relationship was what it was? It was great for then or I went through what I went through and this is where I am now?”

Yvette: Oh, definitely and I actually do have that outlook. I always tell people never regrets, but the important thing of no regrets message is that you learn from that past experience. So, while I have no regrets of what happened, Ben is a wonderful man and I hope that we can be friends again. We kind of are friends on Facebook, but we don’t talk anymore. I still want to learn from that experience and I know that part of the problem was that my first question is always, “How did I contribute to the end of that relationship?”

And one of my first questions was learning how inflexible I can be and how I have to compromise more and not be so hell bent on having my way all the time. And it was more of a symbolic negative energy that I was cutting out of my hair. It was a message to myself that “I’m starting over and this is new and I’m trying not to make the same mistakes I made in the past.”

Frank: I don’t get the impression you use a great deal of slang Yvette. You sound like you use the King’s English for the most part.

Dr. Gayl: Well educated, not a lot of–what’s that? Ebonics.

Frank: Excuse me, people who use Ebonics can be well educated and individuals who are well educated can use Ebonics.

Yvette: Yes.

Frank: Did I just say the same thing? I don’t know.

Dr. Gayl: You did.

Frank: I don’t know. But-

Dr. Gayl: You did.

Yvette: I think you did.

Dr. Gayl: Twice over.

Frank: Michael do you ever have to get out the slang dictionary for something that Yvette said or vice versa?

Michael: Here’s the great irony in this relationship. Her friends always say they’re going to take the black part from her, because of they way she speaks. I’m the one who comes in with the slang and everything. So, we actually reversed. I was listening to hip hop before I met her. She was listening to whatever–

Frank: Opera.

Michael: She was into.

Dr. Gayl: Classical music

Michael: I always tell her–she doesn’t know life from the streets, because she grew up in a little country of West Virginia.

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Frank: Hey, there are ghettos in West Virginia, right? You could–

Yvette: They are. They are.

Frank: You could say you–

Michael: Harpers Ferry.

Yvette: I was nowhere near it, but-

Frank: At least you could front. “Yeah, I came up in the hard times, hard neighborhoods of West Virginia.”

Yvette: Right.

Michael: And that’s why I always tease her. I’m like, “You don’t know what it is in the streets.”

Yvette: He told me I should get out the Webster’s dictionary to figure out what–

Frank: What he’s talking about.

Yvette: But *(inaudible) 56:24 touch the urban dictionary, that’s me. I’m like oh, urbandictionary.com. What was the heck was that?

Frank: Alright, how about ethnic food? When I say fried chicken, what comes to mind?

Michael: I’m ready to eat.

Yvette: Yeah, we love fried chicken. The funny thing is though, I do like a lot of ethnic food and my guardian was quite old, so she likes the old stuff. So we ate chitterlings, we ate pigs feet–

Dr. Gayl: Oh wow.

Yvette: We ate that stuff and so I actually made chitterlings for Michael. And I can’t remember. You liked them, right?

Michael: It tasted okay. It was just the smell in the house.

Dr. Gayl: Right, that smell will kill you.

Michael: Cook them outside.

Frank: Ew. It takes three weeks for it to clear out.

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Michael: Yeah, that was the only criticism I had of her cooking that day.

Frank: Alright, tofu?

Yvette: No, not happening.

Michael: I’m mixed, because married to an Asian, you get a lot of it, so I’m kind of over tofu.

Frank: If there’s one thing you want the community at large to know. There’s one thing that you want to say to the community at large about interracial couples, possible stereotypes, ways that you think that people look at you. What is it?

Yvette: Well, my first statement, and this is something that I hear a lot on talk radio or you see it sometimes portrayed on different television shows–the big thing that I want people or to know or just to not make that snap judgment, that because you’re with someone of a different race, that you somehow are not proud of your own race.

Dr. Gayl: Right. I like that.

Yvette: Yeah, I want people to know that in this great world there are so many people and so many things and if you can find that one person that you love, it shouldn’t matter what color they are. It just should matter that you care about them and they care about you and it doesn’t mean anything about your feelings on your own race. What it means is that you found somebody that you can spend the rest of your life with.

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Frank: You been listening to Frank Relationships and we’ve been talking with Michael Herl and Yvette Saunders, a bi-racial couple and the co-creators of Shades of Gray, a web series that tells the story of a bi-racial couple and the key to long-lasting relationships. Once again, please tell our listeners how they can find your show.

Yvette: We can be found on the internet at nicmicinc.com.

Frank: Along today’s journey we’ve discussed stereotypes, acceptance and discrimination. I hope you’ve had as much fun as I’ve had talking with Michael Herl and Yvette Saunders about their web series, Shades of Gray and their experiences as a bi-racial couple.

As always, it’s my wish for you to walk away from this conversation with a heaping helping of useful information that’ll help you create a relationship that’s as loving and as accepting as possible. Let us know what you thought of today’s show at facebook/relationshipflove, on Twitter at @mrfranklove or at franklove.com. On behalf of my producer, Phileta Legette, keep rising. This is Frank Love.

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