Alright guys, this one was hard for me to write. But I felt like I had to. I had to so that I can provide a voice for anyone else out there that understands what racism and inequality feels like through the lens of a partner. I’m talking about interracial relationships. Now let me preface this by saying that I do not want to talk or focus on politics and/or current events that have been happening. While yes the negative energy and constant disputes that fill up my social media feed daily urged me to finally speak up about something I’ve been wanting to talk about for a long time, I’m not here to have a debate. I don’t want to talk about who is right, who is wrong. I want to shine light on things from a different perspective. I want to speak on behalf of all the people out there that have had to deal with these issues indirectly by way of their relationships.
Until recently, I was in a long-term relationship with a wonderful man. He’s black, and I’m white. For those of who you know me well, I genuinely don’t see color. Okay, okay, sooo cliché, I know! But seriously. I just don’t get the whole racism thing. I can’t relate, and I’ve never been able to. But as I had assumed at the beginning of our relationship, dating him wasn’t a cake walk. And not because of the quality of his character, but because of the color of his skin. We had tons of people who supported it and didn’t think twice. But we received hesitation by others. I felt the personal sting of racism first hand, yet I knew better than to even begin to understand what it felt like for him. Nonetheless, it can be hard being the white girlfriend dating a black man in a world where hate and racism come so freely.
I’ve always yearned to be able to connect with women in similar situations as mine. But the more I searched for blog posts like this one, the more I realized how little is out there. If I touch home to even just one person with this post, I’ll be happy. I just want anyone out there that feels the struggle of interracial relationships first hand to know that I hear you! I got you. I’ll be a voice for the both of us.
So today I’m highlighting 5 simple, yet important tips from yours truly that will help you face the challenges of being in an interracial relationship:
1) Don’t take it personal
Again, the topic of racism in society today can very quickly turn into a pretty nasty debate. People can be extremely passionate, on both sides. Try not to let the frustrations get the best of you and your relationship. There’s always going to be someone out there that doesn’t agree with your walk of life. Whether it be because of your political views, the fact that you work in healthcare, your religious/spiritual beliefs, the color of your hair, how you drive on the highway in the rain, or the skin color of your partner. People just don’t always agree, we know this. So try your hardest not to take a personal jab when someone expresses that they don’t agree with your relationship. They don’t agree with your “type” of relationship, not yours specifically. Just agree to disagree and move on. I promise it will make things better for both you and your relationship. Like Dita Von Teese once said, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches”.
2) Speak up, with class
While you shouldn’t take the judgement of your relationship personal, you also shouldn’t stay silent. Speak up for what you believe. But with class. This is something I had to learn the hard way. I struggled with this at the beginning of my relationship. I was a loose canon, so to speak. I remember feeling the rage radiating up my body anytime I would feel those judgmental eyes while out with my boyfriend in public. It infuriated me so much that these people felt the need to single us out without even knowing our first names. And boy, those looks of disgust truly hurt. My mama bear switch would get turned on so fast. I was ready to defend. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve yelled “What?! You’ve never seen an interracial couple before?! It’s the 21st century!” to complete strangers. But over time I realized that this really didn’t solve anything. I felt guilty afterwards. It felt like I was returning the judgement that they so freely passed on to me, which is exactly what shouldn’t happen. Stand up for your loved one, always. It’s vital if you are in an interracial relationship, for both partners. But stand up for them with a smile. Be confident in knowing that this is completely normal. We are all people that should respect one another until we have reason to feel otherwise. Sometimes it can feel like walking a fine line between standing up for your man/woman and totally judging the shit out of people who don’t understand your love for one another. When you are feeling discouraged by it all, remember how far we have come. Interracial relationships are more prevalent now than they have ever been before. There’s a mural in the neighborhood that I live in Austin that reads “ Love is the question, love is the answer”. I picture this mural in my mind anytime I let the presence of racism/inequality/hatred in America get me down. Can you imagine if we all just focused on that statement?
3) Be willing to break the chain
This can be a challenge, but I feel it is something that must be understood for people engaging in interracial relationships. If you think you won’t have hardships brought on to you by society, regardless of each other’s race, you may be wrong. Speaking from my own experience, I truly believe that people’s hesitation towards the interracial thing stems from how they were raised to perceive it. How they were brought up to view society’s’ melting pot of mixed culture, race, religion, you name it. Again, I’m not pointing fingers or saying that anyone’s view point on this matter is necessarily wrong. But if you are in relations with someone of a different race than your own, and you truly love that person, you believe in this. You believe interracial relationships are just as accepting, or should be at least, as relationships between two people of the same race. Would you support your child in a similar situation? Do you stand up for your fellow interracial couple friends? If so, maybe it’s time to break the chain. You aren’t arguing with anyone. You aren’t even disagreeing with anyone. You are merely deciding to be vocal about the fact that you have a different perspective on this whole thing, one that may differ from friends and family alike. Don’t be afraid of this. It’s no one’s fault, not theirs or yours. The only thing constant in life is change. You deserve to believe in what you believe in, and quite honestly, you should stand firm in that. Love is blind despite the world’s attempt to give it eyes.
4) Never let race define your relationship
It’s a small part of your complex union. It isn’t the sole defining purpose of your relationship. It’s a small part. Similar to two people coming from different upbringings, differing religious beliefs, political stand points, views on healthcare, involvement with family, etc. Most people have deal breakers when it comes to relationships. Race may be one of them for some people. Obviously it’s not for you and your partner, but drop it at that. Be proud to be in an interracial relationship, but don’t parade it around too much. It’s not the core reason for the connection between you and your partner. It’s a minor detail. Even though it may be a big deal to other people it, isn’t to you. So don’t let it be. There are more important aspects to a relationship. Like whether or not he’s into sports as much as you are—deal breaker if he ain’t! Does he like to travel? Can I tell that he treats his family with respect? Does he genuinely value the importance of education? And please tell me he’s capable of devouring an entire pizza every now and then just for the hell of it. These are just some of the things I think about when contemplating characteristics I seek in another person. Oh, and he’s black/brown/yellow/purple on top of everything else? Dope. You know what they say… sometimes opposites attract If you’re like me, you never allow race to determine who you date. So don’t allow race to define who you are as a couple.
5) Come from a place of love, not malice
One of my favorite Martin Luther King Jr. quotes reads “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. To fight back with hatred out of anger is counter intuitive, people. Racism exists on ALL sides. While, like I said, I’m not going to get political on this, it’s important that we remember that the inequality that we see portrayed in this society is multi-factorial. It doesn’t stem from one group of people, one race. We can spend our entire lives trying to uncover “who came first, the chicken or the egg”, but for what? The past is the past, history is history. What truly matters is NOW. How are we treating each other today? Like I mentioned earlier, remember that not everyone is going to agree with you. And regardless of how that makes you feel emotionally, try to be content with that. The best thing we can do for interracial relationships and the push for racial equality is to lead by example. When two people of opposite races come together as one, they are portraying that love trumps race. That they would rather love someone for who they are, not what they are. Even in the face of adversity? Absolutely. It shouldn’t be a competition on who is right and who is wrong when it comes to the subject of racism. If I lash back with a closed off, irate attitude towards someone who feels the need to judge me for being in an interracial relationship, than I am expressing a message completely opposite of what I intend to. That love is love, regardless of color. People are people, regardless of color. And like MLK once said, “returning hate for hate multiples hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.”
So there you have it my loves. I hope this helped bring a sense of hope and optimism to anyone who is exhausted from the feeling of opposition. Again, we have come a LONG way. At the end of the day we love who we love, and that’s how it should be. In a world that can appear to thrive off of hate and separation, always do your best to find the silver lining ❤