People talk about interracial relationships like they require some sort of drastic lifestyle change. Even the phrase “interracial relationship” is a mouthful, like a weird video game or something. There’s this prevailing idea that people in interracial relationships have it “harder” and have compromised some vital racial part of themselves in order to love someone of another skin color. It is as if we can’t fully see each other as breathing, bleeding human beings, as if being human and alive is not more complex than the mere social adjectives we use as a shortcut to a soul.
I am and will always be a black man. I am a black man who loves women, and one woman in particular — who happens to be white. I do not have an agenda and there is nothing wrong with me. I’m just dating a girl that I like, and that is the only way I care to slice it.
Yes, I’m a black city kid, and my girlfriend is “a white girl” from Clifton Park, NY. Basically, it’s always been very black where I live, and very white where she’s lived, but whatever. Mind you, I’ve dated “outside of my race” more than once, but I’ve probably learned the most about the challenges that come with a legit “interracial relationship” from my current relationship.
Between her and me, the race thing is something that we do acknowledge and talk about. I don’t believe in the whole “I don’t see race” argument — that ain’t a solution. Cultural differences are a necessary challenge of any relationship, which we must share and experience in order to grow. So yeah, we do talk about race without any sort of judgement. A lot of the time, it’s quite fun to play around with expectations. I often get very amused that I, a black man, was the one to force-feed her the movie Frozen. Sometimes we joke about how one is “more racist” than the other. But it’s really all in good fun because it comes from a place of understanding that beneath everything that we are to the masses, and beneath all of the boxes that we both have to check off, we are both human beings with the values that make “human beings” worthwhile.
Sometimes we have the tough conversations about politics where one will offend the other with an argument or an opinion. I can recall a scenario where I’ve complained generally about white privilege and gentrification without really thinking about the boxes that she probably checks off. But even those arguments aren’t apocalyptic. Not by a long shot. Sometimes there are things that we don’t understand about each other’s cultural experiences, but the conversation that needs to happen, and usually does, is a conversation. A teachable moment. Those moments help me remember that we all have a lot to learn about each other.
Lots of people have their own implicit opinions about our “interracial relationship” in a way that feels condescending and flat out fucking rude. We get stares on the subway, which makes any normal level of PDA feel bizarre. When I pull up a picture of her to nosy-ass work mofos, people always feel like it’s appropriate to say “oh, she’s white?” I won’t even begin to discuss the naysayers within the friends and family. Maybe these folks feel entitled because they have “normal relationships.” People place judgments on the both of us for dating outside our races, as if there’s something wrong or odd about it. But most of the time, I laugh it off, because it IS people speaking from the outside. Judging something they have never experienced. “Once you go black, you never go back.” “White girls are crazy.” “Oh, he’s a self-loathing black.” “Oh, she’s just going through a ‘phase.’” You should really hear some of the ways people fetishize interracial relationships. It’s hilariously racist. People always assume there’s something off about you or that you are a race traitor for dating someone that isn’t “like you.” It’s a real buzz kill when you just want to enjoy a nice stroll in the park.
I think people need to realize that people are so much more complicated than their demographic box. Matching races is not the only criteria for a sustainable relationship. As we all know, there is no science to it, and if you are one of the lucky ones, a loving relationship is deep, complex, and random. It’s hard enough being a person who has to love another person unconditionally. That means love without conditions. Don’t add political shit into the mix, you know? She and I are different in ways that reach far beyond my blackness and her whiteness. I’m a Captain America kinda guy, and she doesn’t give a shit about comic books. We have enough problems as it is, but thankfully the world hasn’t imploded.
My relationship is not odd. My relationship is not a political statement. My relationship isn’t anyone’s business or anything I need to prove. A man is a man is a man. A woman is a woman is a woman. To paraphrase Childish Gambino: Dear world, “don’t be mad cause I’m doin’ me, better than you doin’ you.”
But I think Depeche Mode said it best: People are people.