I am sick to death of getting those fucked up looks from people who have some kind of issue with who I choose to sleep with, bear children with, and marry. I'm talking about white men who have an issue with me being married to a white woman and Black women who have the same issue. What the hell is wrong with these people?
I was in Mesquite, Nevada not long ago on a company function. The company I work for took all of senior management and their spouses to get massages at a day spa in Mesquite, play a round of golf, and go skeet shooting followed by dinner. From the moment I set foot in this town I felt the stares of white folks going from my wife's pregnant belly to me. I was uncomfortable and annoyed and, after a few hours of this, I was getting that type of angry that usually precedes violence. The type of angry I haven't been since I was in my twenties. Everywhere we went we were getting scowls of distaste from the locals. What was even more bizarre to me was that most of the stares were not coming from white men, which I was used to dealing with, but from white women, which I can't recall every dealing with before. After a few hours I was hoping that a man would look at me the wrong way or say something stupid so that I could do something because I had no idea what to do about the women. A man I could pound into a little greasy spot, but what was I supposed to do about these ignorant ass women? My wife was pregnant so I didn't want her getting into a fight. Thankfully, she hadn't picked up on it yet which I found rather surprising. But once I pointed it out to her she got royally pissed. I was afraid she was going to get into a fight, pregnant or not, so I just excused myself and she and I headed back to Vegas.
That Monday, when my boss asked me why I didn't stay for golf and skeet-shooting I had to explain to him that we had taken off right after lunch because It was starting to get a little "Deep South" over there and I was afraid I was going to wind up in jail if I let me temper get away from me. He laughed and told me that somebody winds up getting into a fight with the locals every year that they go and that they always make sure to bring bail money. I would have been cool with that were in not for my pregnant wife. But still, why the fuck do I even have to deal with this bullshit?
The neighborhood that my wife and I live in is fairly mixed and Christie hates going to the local grocery store with our daughters.
"All the black women look at me like I stole them."
Our daughters look very African American, healthy doses of my genes. If they chose to never tell anyone they were mixed they could probably pull it off. I knew that it wasn't because of the babies that these women were looking at her like she had stolen something, it was because of me, their father. Those looks were the same type of looks she gets when I am on her arm. The "You stole our man" looks. Funny because I don't know any of them. It's not like I was dating one of them and Christie literally stole me away from her. A friend of mine once said that if you want a black woman who wouldn't normally look twice at you or give you the time of day to take an interest in you all you have to do is date a white woman. My politically correct side forced me to stick up for my sisters, my experiences in life told me he was right. I go into that supermarket by myself all the time and it isn't like any of them have ever walked up to me and tried to put their bid in before or after I was married. It's not like they had all applied for the job of my wife and I picked the less qualified white applicant over the dozens of qualified black ones.
It isn't like I turned my back on black women somewhere along the way and refused to date them in favor of white she-devils. I wasn't looking for a trophy wife. I didn't place white women on some pedestal above my black sistas. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Back when I was younger and dumber I turned my back on several white women that I was in love with because I couldn't see myself married to a white woman. It was black women who I had on this exalted pedestal. I was looking for someone just like my mother. Which is kind of weird if you ask me. I always felt weird having sex with someone who looked like my mother or my sister, like I should apologize afterwards and got to church or a therapist. But I dated who I thought I was supposed to date according to those around me who saw me as some sort of Black Leader in the making. And who I was supposed to date were not white women. So, I dated them on the sly and refused to fall in love. When I was dating a black woman I strutted her proudly but when I was dating a white woman I hid it like some dark secret. I regret that now. I should have been stronger and I'm not going to blame it on the times. Despite the Afro-centric "Black-consciousness" movement that was sweeping the country at that time I still knew right from wrong and I buckled to peer pressure. The same peer pressure that is now being directed at my family by those white folks in Mesquite and the sistas in my neighborhood. But I'm not in my twenties now. Now I'm a grown ass man with a family he loves and this shit just pisses me off.
Yeah, white people have done our ancestors some terrible wrongs and we as a people have had to overcome a lot to get where we are today. We have had to overcome all kinds of racism and prejudice. But in the end people are people. Refusing to date someone because of the color of their skin is as wrong as refusing to hire or promote one for the same reason. I treat romantic relationships the same as I would expect an employer to treat me. I look for the ones with best credentials and hire the most qualified. I don't show favoritism of any kind. If I think this Filipino woman is more likely to make me happy than this sista or this white woman than this Filipino woman is going to be the one I hook up with. That was a little nod to the ex-wife. I've dated Hawaiians, Jamaicans, Africans, Asians, Caucasians, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, French, Italians, Irish, Scottish, Russians, Germans, Jews, lots of Swedish women, African Americans and every combination thereof. Each of them had equal chance to win my heart. I wound up with a white woman. Oh, well. Get over it. If you had been there it might have been you but you weren't.
What I find most bizarre about White folks who look at me like I stole one of their women away is what makes them think she would have even been interested in them if I wasn't in the picture? Like I said above, it isn't like there were all these white boys that were next in line for the job and I butted ahead or slipped in on some sort of Affirmative Action Program that gave me some unfair advantage over more qualified White boys. She fell in love with me! Get over it!
On one of my earlier blogs about racial prejudice I made the observation of how White men and Black women seem to have the most animosity toward inter-racial relationships, at least from my perspective, and I recieved this response from a sista named Sette:
"I have to say your observations about how you notice "the sisters" still have animosity sort of equates black women to majority white racists. You seem to be fairly understanding and almost feminist leaning in some of your posts, so this surprises me. The dynamic there is completely different and it's because of this history of oppression that you've touched on that we (black people) may have such bitter feelings about race mixing. Especially in a society where black women are perpetually portrayed as the unwantable unless they look like Halle Berry, Beyonce, whatever pop culture person at the moment that catches people's fancies. You could understand then, why some black women feel animosity, which really isn't animosity but more like sadness turned to anger in what they may view as a rejection of them. The same way that when black men express dissatisfaction to my being married to a white male, I recognize that we have been put through such an abusive cycle that leaves a lot of us plagued with self worth issues. That we have not always been considered wantable, desirable, visible and that my pairing seems like a blatant slap in the face. The dominant culture doesn't have this to contend with. The feelings that our sisters and brothers feel towards us are feelings of hurt and anger of being rejected. After being bombarded with the message that white is beautiful, it is most desirable, it is most wanted.. I understand why other black people may feel that rejection, hurt and pain. That's not at all what white men feel when if they saw you out with white women. It's not at all what white women feel when they see me out with my husband. But then again there hasn't been a cycle of degradation aimed at white people as fundamentally ugly on the basis of skin color, nose width, hair texture and simply existing.It just struck me as sort of odd that what blacks feel about that and how they may treat us, would be equated to the same thing whites may feel about interracial dating. It's not the same at all. White people are the dominant culture, so of course they wouldn't express the same sort of contempt that minorities do when they see minorities dating outside races. It's the same for latinos, asians, and anyone who is marginalized. There will always be the feeling of rejection that the majority will never know, because the majority has always been desirable. It's kind of like the point that you were making about calling someone a nigger when they're black. If we could apply it to telling a black woman/man that the potential white mate is just better, the reaction would be completely different and most likely not even make an impact if you were to tell a white woman/man that potential black mate was just sexier. So yes the bigotry and the discrimination is there but it's rooted in something completely different. It's rooted in rejection for us."
I responded with this:
"Sette, thanks so much for your comments. In no way did I mean to suggest that the animosity felt by women of color towards interracial relationship is coming from the same place as that expressed by white males. But intolerance is intolerance. I understand the feeling that dating outside your race is somehow seen as rejecting your race. I also think that in this day and age we should all be enlightened enough to realize that this is not always the case. True, in many cases it is, and that's truly sad. I'm sure we all know Black men who refuse to date Black women and vise versa. However I don't think it is fair to assume that this is always the case. I think assuming that everyone who dates outside their race is doing so because they see another race as better or more desirable is another prejudgement (read prejudice). Being in an interracial relationship is twice as hard when you now have to deal with this type of prejudice from your own race. And the bitterness and hostility faced from members of your own race who disapprove is usually far more hostile and extreme. In my case, and I'm sure in yours as well, it is simply a matter of being open-minded and not limiting my relationship choices to any one race or nationality rather than having a decided preference for one or the other. As I've said before, no two women I've ever dated bare any resemblance to the other. I've dated all over the spectrum. Because I go where my heart goes. So I am offended when someone tries to dictate the direction they feel my heart should take or narrow my options in love and romance. I am offended when I get evil looks and nasty comments from people who think I should "Stick to my own". No, it is not the same as the animosity expressed by White males towards miscegenation. It is often worse."
Maybe I should give greater preference to Black women because of all the hardships we have endured together. Maybe I should hold some sort of grudge against white people because of what they did to my people before, during, and even after the Civil Rights movement and refuse to date them. Maybe I should. I don't. To me, that would make me a hypocrite. Whoever I fall in love with is who I'm going to choose to be with regardless of their color. How could I complain about discrimination while discriminating? I'm not saying we should forget but we must forgive and move on. People are people and if everyone doesn't realize this soon than it will only be the minority who suffer for it.
My wife and I were having a conversation the other day and the subject turned to our children and how terrified she was of the day her daughters discovered their history.
"I'm afraid they are going to hate me when they find out how White people have treated Blacks in this country. How will I explain to her that there are members of her own family that are racists?"
I comforted her and told her that we would tell our daughters all about their history but we'd also tell them about Dr. Martin Luther King and his dream of racial harmony and unity. I told her that we would tell them that they are racial unity in the flesh. They are the living embodiments of Dr. King's dream. We would tell them that racism of any kind is wrong, that prejudice of any kind is immoral. We would teach them to judge people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, their sex, sexual preference or religion. And that they would be living proof of the beauty that can come from such open-mindedness, the daughters of a country singing, Christian White woman who can trace her roots back to racist rednecks in the Louisiana bayou, and a ghetto-born Black atheist from the hip-hop generation who can trace his roots all the way back to the slave ships.
When my daughters inevitably face the racism of others, Black people who think I'm a sell-out for being with their mother, White people who think their mother is a race traitor for miscegenating with me, and they come home confused and frustrated about who's side they should take. When they go through the inevitable identity crises and start identifying with one race more than the other or not being able to really identify with either. Their mother and I will be there to guide them through that and teach them that just because others hate they don't need to internalize that hatred. They don't need to choose between the two races. They can be the example of how our two races can overcome the problems of the past and create a better world. How we can look past the color of our skin and find love in our shared humanity. They can tell them that Dr. King's dream is alive and well, living and breathing, in them.