Have you ever met someone and you just felt safe with them? Not just because of their strength, but because they allowed you to be completely yourself? Some people spend their lives looking for that feeling. I am lucky enough to have that type of love. The kind of love that makes you giggle and sometimes let out that ridiculous laughter that makes you snort and blush. The kind of love that makes anywhere feel like home. That kind of love is so beautiful and is wanted, which is why I can’t seem to understand the immediate hatred that I’ve received at some points of my relationships.
When you read about the love I’ve just given you a glimpse of did you envision what I looked like? Did you envision the man who was coming to my mind? Maybe you thought of your own lover and perhaps they are similar to mine.
Let me help you-Picture this- I am white. By white, I mean Casper the friendly ghost has more melanin than I do. I have freckles and that’s the most color on my skin. As far as I can remember I’ve been attracted to black men, don’t ask me why because I had no mystical revelation or experience that drove me to this attraction, it’s just what I like. For some reason I’ve spent the better part of my love-life’s existence dodging comments and questions as to why I like someone of a different race. Part of me feels the need to shrug these questions off and another-more sassy-part of me wants to lecture.
People automatically assume my personality, my level of education and my values by the color of my man’s skin. I was raised in a middle class family- I grew up in a small town-and I think town is an overstatement, it was more like a road. I didn’t have much exposure to different backgrounds until middle school and I assumed everyone was living like I was. I always had good grades, fit everywhere and no where all at once. I looked for a partner who could make me laugh and keep up with my sarcasm. It wasn’t until my first serious relationship that I realized how different I am. How different a love like mine seems to be in this world. Interracial dating and marriage is on the rise but that doesn’t mean I don’t get stares, many times it is not the universal thought of what love looks like.
The man I am with today drives a sports car, works a full-time job that includes many hours of added sweat equity, he wakes up at ungodly hours and goes to sleep before my two-year old. If that isn’t testament to his character then I don’t know what is. He is respectful and he is chivalrous. I have never met someone who is as attentive, wise and has a more listening ear than he does. I am angry for him when he gets questions about his occupation when he walks to his car, jaws drop when he opens my car door. He works hard and he’s polite, I thought people were impressed. At first, I thought maybe his age was a factor in the impression he was leaving but the more I have noticed it is about his race. People pause before asking me his occupation, they do a small nod, the kind that is supposed to harness a secret while I just stare slightly confused. He is intelligent and never makes the kind of decision that would get a police officer involved -aside from speeding, but as I previously mentioned: Man. Sports car. Enough said.
Walking hand in hand with him is my favorite thing to do. I notice the side eyes and partial nods from one friend to another to look at us. I hear the whispers and I won’t let it waiver my undying love. Why can’t it be a positive attribute that my man loves me? Why can’t it just be a compliment that he speaks with class and eloquence, not that “most black men don’t do that”. To be honest if a man can’t hold a conversation with me, he is definitely not in my realm of attraction, which goes for any man of any race or social stature.There is always a question of 'Why' when I describe my relationship and I hate the question, because the question isn't why I love him, it's why did I pick him. Why I chose to subject myself to a love that looks different, and my answer is because he's worth it.
Let’s get interesting and add in the fact that I have a child, it is automatically assumed that I will dress my child a certain way, which apparently means she will have to choose which background to associate with. My daughter is bi-racial, meaning she has TWO genetic histories flowing through her. She has curls and tan skin, brown eyes and soft hair. She is fiery and she is beautiful. I have never felt more ostracized than the day I took her to the doctor for an appointment. She had pigtails, an orange tank top, striped shorts and flip-flops with little butterflies on them. Oh my goodness the dimples and chunky cheeks, I was especially proud because I had tamed the wild curls. I remember checking her in and sitting down next to a woman who had a child around the same age. I remember complimenting how this woman had done her daughter’s hair, long braids swept the back of her neck with glittered beads at their ends. All I was thinking was “how in the HELL did she get that little girl to sit for so long?” Her response was one that really shook me. She replied, “Thanks, but you know you’d never do this to your daughter, you dress her too white.” Luckily, I was called back as she uttered those words, but the situation still floats around in my brain. The tone she used when she said “too white”, what does that even mean? She looks too much like me? I felt wrong and I hadn’t even done anything. I had dressed my daughter and even gone so far as painting her little toe nails pink. She was cute, that isn’t even a biased statement, the girl was adorable. I felt inferior and I’m not sure why. I worried about this being something that she would have to endure life-long. But I will raise my daughter, and eventually, my children to be strong in their heritage and in their skin, no matter the shade.
Loving in a relationship that looks like mine sometimes means added explanation, long stares in restaurants; it calls into question friendships and relationships with family. People you never thought were ignorant or uneducated soon come out of the wood-works. It is sometimes disappointing but it doesn’t make me love any less. He is not with me to improve his social standing; I am not with him to disappoint those who are related to me. This isn’t a phase I will just grow out of; we are not a social experiment. When you ask me 'Why do you date black men?,' I will try not to look at you with pity because you show your ignorance. The greatest issue we have is finding lighting that works for the both of us in a picture. My love is strong, my love is unbiased to race, and my love is accepting and full of joy. My love can see in black and white, while yours only sees in color.