“Do They Know I’m Black?”

Even in 2019 interracial relationships can come with their specific difficulties. Both those put onto them by the outside world as well as the ones those in the relationship create themselves.

It’s no secret that my boyfriend is Caucasian (of Irish and English descent) and that I am Black (of who knows descent because of that thing known as the Atlantic slave trade).

Luckily we live in a fairly progressive area, but we still have our own issues based on our different cultures. He hails from a huge Irish-Catholic family while my family is Black and Baptist. But between he and I we have more in common because of our mostly similar American experiences.

But the differences are there.  

We had our first conversation actually addressing our different skin colors when he asked me to meet his family for the first time, about two months into our relationship.  It wasn’t a big conversation but it needed to be addressed. I asked him if his family knew that I was Black. To some this seems like a stupid question. Why should I need to ask that? Well firstly I have a first and last name that people almost always associate with a white woman. So if they only knew my name and then I just popped up at this event, things may not go smoothly if they did happen to have a problem with their son/grandson/brother dating a Black woman.

I have white and Black friends who were raised to “not see color” but then when this actually manifested into interracial dating their parents did not react well. Luckily B’s family are amazing. They knew I was Black because he showed them a picture of me previously and it wasn’t a problem. But the question still needed to be asked.

We’ve had other tough conversations. When it became clear that we were in love and would hopefully spend the rest of our lives together it became urgent to discuss things like police brutality and having biracial children.

B and I have slightly different political leanings but we agree on the core things. And while B would call himself a Republican I would clarify that as a socially liberal Republican. So when it comes to a lot of issues important to the Black community, we’re on the same page.

Children would be many, many, many, many (did I mention, many?) years off. But we’ve started to talk about some things. To me, any children we have would be Black. If they want to identify as biracial when they’re older that’s up to them, but in my experience the one drop rule is still in full effect in America. If you’re even a little Black you’re all the way Black. And I will raise them to expect the experiences bestowed on Black people in this country. We have also talked about what it would be like for him to have children that more than likely will look much more like me than him.

I love B but going into this relationship I think he was a bit naive about how the world would treat us. Yes in our area, we do not get much judgement if any. But this past fall we took a trip to Mississippi to visit my mom. Now, no judgement on the south but it has a reputation in regards to race for a reason. So I sat B down and told him to just be mindful of the reactions of those around us because we may have to moderate our behavior if we sense hostility. Luckily we got no open hostility but we did get a lot of stares. Some that just seemed curious and some that seemed full of disdain. By the way, these stares came from both Blacks and whites.

I have gotten comments from Black men and women about dating a white man. That I must not like Black men or I think I’m better than them or other nonsense. None of that is true in my case although I have seen that be the case for some interracial relationships. Self hate can manifest in many ways.

Advice from Me to Others

I don’t like to advise others on things like relationships because I am absolutely NO expert. Ask B lol. But I will drop some knowledge just in case you’re interested.

  • The biggest advice I can give is to have those tough conversations right off the bat. Like within the first few weeks if you can. You don’t want to have fallen in love with someone and then find out they hold some prejudiced ideals

  • Teach them about your culture and learn about there’s. Celebrate your differences. They are nothing to be ashamed of.

  • But while you celebrate these differences also celebrate your similarities. They are just as important.

Fact is I chose to be with someone with a different background than me. We’re gonna have more of these tough experiences and even more of those silly ones (like when people don’t think you’re a couple and hit on your bf right in front of you).

But as one of my heroes, the late, great Malcolm X said “When you are dealing with humanity as a family there’s no question of integration or intermarriage. It’s just one human being marrying another human being or one human being living around and with another human being.”

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