Interracial relationships have always been a stigma in American society. I find myself surprised that it is a “disgrace” to mix races in America, the so-called “melting pot.” What is a melting pot if not a place to mix with each other, blend into each other, become a part of each other, and aid in the making of a culturally competent and respectful society. If you truly love someone, you accept them. That is what I love about interracial relationships. The cultural learning and the stemming of appreciation that accompanies the relationship. But that doesn’t mean that all interracial dating is successful.
My second relationship was with an African-American man. He was the most popular kid in my senior class. He was a track star, played football, was in all the advanced placement classes, and was an aspiring lawyer. Needless to say, everyone in my high school approved of him, and so I naively wasn’t aware of the adversity we were going to have to face right off the bat.
I guess I should mention that I am a Caucasian woman with very pale skin. He was very dark, and I can remember loving the color contrast of our skin. We went to Wal-Mart one day and that was the first time I ever noticed that we were getting looks from specifically older white men. I was so consumed in our conversation and our holding of hands that it took me till the end of our trip to realize what was going on around us. Piercing glances, like little jabs of a dagger, were disrupting and attempting to dismantle the flow of mine and his connection. After my initial confusion and attempt at self persuasion that the looks weren’t race related, I was just angry. It made me want to carnally ravage my boyfriend in front of them to spite their bigotry. But alas, in the attempt to keep it classy, I just went about my business and did the best I could to ignore the people around us.
A tricky thing about interracial relationships is that both participants have to be completely comfortable with the decision to date outside their race, or it just makes for a disaster. I remember fighting with my boyfriend about prom. He refused to take me to prom, and always had an excuse about why we should go with different groups. My initial thought was that he wanted to hook up with another woman, and obviously I was pretty pissed. After weeks of pushing, however, the truth came out. He had yet to tell his mother we were dating, and if he took me to prom then it was inevitable that his mother would have to meet me and we’d have to take pictures together. I got the feeling that he was ashamed of me. I asked him about it, and he confessed that his hesitation of taking me to prom was due to me being white. I thought he was kidding at first, because his ideals were so progressive but then he continued to tell me that he’d never introduced a white woman to his family and he didn’t know how they would react. So yes, he was ashamed of me but not because of who I was, but because of my race.
The more into the relationship I got, the more I discovered that I had to keep proving myself to him. We went to a dance and he told me that I wouldn’t know how to dance the way he liked to dance. He automatically assumed that because I’m white I can’t dance, and that I won’t be able to “twerk” because that is a “black dance.” Little did he know. The more I could prove that I wasn’t some boring white girl, and the more that I showed him how much I knew of “black culture” (as he called it) the more he was willing to accept me. This wasn’t the type of acceptance I wanted though, and is rarely the type of acceptance that can keep a relationship afloat.
I know that from the examples I just shared, it may seem like I don’t like interracial dating, but that is not the case. The bulk of my relationships have been with racially/ethnically different people from myself. Why? I’m really not sure, it just happens to be who I am attracted to. I don’t discriminate against my own race, and I don’t seek out other races to date, it just kind of happens. I do believe though, that I did start dating within the black community because they were more accepting of my physical body. Being a “thicker” or “curvy” woman, I felt more accepted into black culture who’s mediated images of what a sexy woman looked like, contained women who had thicker thighs and bigger butts. While white culture’s images of sexy women are painfully thin women.
Another factor in my attraction to racial and ethnic diversity in my relationships may have to do with my passion for social justice. I have a yearning to fight “the system,” and my decision to enter into an interracial relationship may be associated with a political statement I am trying to make. Who knows.
– Agent Change