It's a given that in relationships, whether they be romantic or platonic, that people deserve respect. This means that you respect them as a person, but also respect their opinions and thoughts.
Recently, a bride-to-be posted on Reddit that her African American best friend/bridesmaid refused to be a part of her wedding that would take place on a plantation. The bridesmaid, before the venue was chosen, spoke of her discomfort for a plantation wedding. The bride who initially agreed not to have a plantation wedding stated on Reddit that she believed her friend was being "oversensitive" and she thought she would "change her mind." In the thread, she asked how she could convince her friend that she was being ridiculous.
As many others responded, the friend is not being ridiculous. It's you, the person who is not listening to the concerns of their black friend, that is being ridiculous.
If you think someone is being 'oversensitive,' about slavery and plantations, you need to reevaluate the way you view and approach things.
For many blacks, our heritage is tied to the history of slavery and plantations. I highly doubt that I'm being oversensitive and overdramatic about a place in which my ancestors were forced to work from sun up to sun down without any pay. These plantations were the places in which human beings were whipped and treated as property, not people. Families were torn and pulled apart and lived in cabins with numerous people.
It may have happened over 200 years ago, but the pain from these actions still lingers on in the black community. It exists in the forms of systemic racism and the disadvantages and rights that African-Americans had to fight for in this country. The families that were torn apart leave us searching for our ancestry. It's also the realization that due to lost, improper records, and changed names it may never be found.
Anytime I read or watch anything that details slavery, civil rights, or the struggles of people of color in this country, it's depressing. The idea of my ancestors, which includes the grandparents (because these things still have current impacts), experiencing the things they did are painful.
When you're in a romantic relationship with a person of color, you often to choose to have children with that person. This ancestry (that you said doesn't affect you) is apart of them. It means they need to know it, and that you'll there to hear their thoughts about the history.
You can say the history of many people of color doesn't directly affect you, but it does. If you choose to love and be in a relationship, then it affects you. I could even take it a step further and say that as a human being who cares for other, you should have respect for the concerns of others.
If a person of color says that a situation, place, words, etc. make them uncomfortable, listen to it and respect it. Do not question it. If you're the one who's making them feel uncomfortable/unsafe, then you need to stop and ask yourself why it was done in the first place. This goes back to the idea of your need to check your privilege and bias on a regular basis.
No one is looking for you to take the blame for the actions of those in the past. However, we are looking for you to listen and do better in the present and in the future.
If you're going to be in a relationship with someone, you should open to all of them. If someone is not the same race as you, you should be open to learning about their race and their culture.
Communication is key to each and every relationship. This applies on a deeper level when you're in an interracial relationship. You need to be open to hearing about their experiences of being a person of color. On the culture side, there should be a willingness to try everything. The traditions and holidays should be something you take part in and learn about. The food may not be your favorite, but the least you can do is try it and have it from time to time.
This is not just about interracial relationships that include whites and people of color, but all those in relationships with someone that is not the same race.
For example, African-Americans and Latinos in a relationship with each other should be respectful of each other's cultures and struggles. Even though a lot of things are similar, everything is not the same and it should be respected.
When you take the time to listen and learn about the struggles, you'll begin to see things in a different light. You'll understand that the things that may not make you feel uncomfortable/unsafe
The next time you encounter a situation in which a person of color, that you call your lover or friend, has a concern take the time to really listen. Do not dismiss their concerns, but instead listen and take the time to learn more.
The willingness to listen, learn, and be embracing are the things that will continue to allow the relationship to grow. It allows it to be a safe place for everyone in the relationship. When respect and all the things mentioned before are combined, it allows relationships to be the way they should be, healthy and open.
We know you'll never understand what it truly means to be a person of color, but the thing that matters is that you give us the support in listening, understanding, and most of all…respect.