I’ve witnessed a fascinating discussion happening within black twitter recently. It’s about the validity of the opinions of black people in interracial relationships. Now, if I try really hard and close my mind off just enough, I can see where those who believe that their opinions aren’t equal are coming from. You’re not with someone who understands your experience and therefore cannot participate in the movement the way a black significant other could. Alternatively, maybe, just maybe, being with that white partner (because we’re not going to dance around the fact that the significant other in question is white) has come with privileges your blackness does not afford you and your judgment is now clouded by your new socioeconomic advantages. Now, admittedly, I had to really think about those arguments and their potential to be valid. However, as someone who has dated outside her race, neither of those experiences apply to me.
I am here to represent the side of the argument that disagrees with the notion that your blackness becomes somehow “washed out” by the lightness of your SO’s skin tone. Let’s go back to a sixteen year old version of me who was dating a boy I was head over heels for. Sweet guy, but I had noticed some animosity between him and his mother. The source of that animosity seemed to be our relationship. Now, in my sweet little head, I thought racism was outdated. A thing of the past. I was about to learn that, to our dismay, it had not gone out of style.
On a night, when my boyfriend, let’s call him Justin, and I were stranded at a convention (the nerdy kind), in need of a ride home, his mom showed up. The whole thing was a blur. When we couldn’t get in touch with anyone (neither of our parents were interested in picking us up, which is a whole other problem entirely) we had decided to pay for a room at the hotel the convention was being held at. When he texted his mom to let her know, this seemed to motivate his mom to show up. When she did, she pretty much dragged him out and told him he could never see “that girl” again. Said girl, being me.
At this point, it hadn’t clicked. It wasn’t until the next morning when my dad picked me up from the hotel and had to give me the truth on the drive home. Justin had spoken to my mom and apologized, telling her that his mother did not like me because of the color of my skin.
Fast forward to the moment that really woke me up. Despite Justin’s mother’s issues with me, our relationship did not end. One night, he and his mother had a fight and he ran away. We were all looking for him and I couldn’t get in touch with him. So, thinking that our mutual concern for him would unite us, I walked to his house to find out if his family had heard from him. It turns out he had shown up shortly before I got there, but what I was met with was a screaming white woman who wanted me gone. My memory paints her like some kind of blond banshee. Justin told me to just go, and I did, as she yelled behind me. Frustrated, I yelled back, holding back tears, “What is your problem with me?”
However, that night doesn’t end with this interaction. As I walked back home, a police officer pulls up to me. Confused, I stop. He questions me about where I came from and I explain to him what happened. Apparently, Justin’s mother had called the police and told them that I had attacked her in an attempt to get into their house. When the police officer told me this, I burst into tears, swearing that I had done no such thing. Through sobs I tried explaining to him why she didn’t like me and why she’d lie, and much to my relief, the officer believed me. I remember him saying it was sad that people were still that way.
That night shook me awake. So not only do I live my life wondering if the retail worker is asking me if I need help because she thinks I’m stealing or if she’s just doing her job, I also wonder if the parents of the person I’m dating is going to throw a shit fit when their child brings home a black woman. So, going back to the argument of whether or not black people can have valid opinions about black existence while in an interracial relationship; they, with every ounce of their body, and every inch of their skin, can and do.