Last month, I had the pleasure of attending my first wedding. My second cousin was getting married and I was the only one in the entire family that attended the wedding.
Some were afraid of flying, as our family lives in Croatia, and a few had responsibilities that made them unable to go to the U.S. for the wedding. And that's all valid.
However, when it comes to some family friends, I had a feeling that the fact that my cousin's fiance (now husband) is black had something to do with it.
As a white person currently in a relationship with another white person, I am definitely not an expert on interracial relationships.
However, since I was going to the wedding, but not the one getting married, I heard several racist comments that my family friends would never have told my cousin.
First, I was told to be careful in the city that the wedding took place in because a lot of black and Middle Eastern people lived there and something could happen to me.
This was insensitive enough to say, but for someone in an older generation, I could see how maybe they were just ignorant.
However, the next situation isn't nearly as excusable.
I was telling a family friend that I was going to be staying at my cousin's fiance's house for the nights before and after the wedding since I had to fly in for it. I mentioned that he has many siblings, so there was tons of space in the house for my cousin's two friends and me.
My family friend immediately proceeded to warn me about his siblings. She said that there was a chance that he had a younger brother who was my age who would harass me.
She took this as fact. He was going to have a younger brother and he was going to hit on me and harass me because he is black and that is what black people do. She told me to stand my ground and not let him get to me.
I couldn't even tell her off because I was so in shock that she would say something like that.
First of all, all of his siblings were older and married with children. Second, even if he did have a younger brother, I'm sure there wouldn't have been anything close to what she was describing.
If she had gone to the wedding, she would have met his family too and seen just how lovely and friendly people they are.
But she is too set in her ways to see past skin color.
It would be naive to say that I thought racism didn't exist, because it certainly does, but I didn't know that people were still so blatantly racist. It sounded like something someone in the 60s would have said, not 2018.
The third comment happened after the wedding. A different family friend asked me how it was. I told her that it was a beautiful ceremony and that the people there were super nice.
My family friend sighed and said, "It's a shame that she wasn't able to find a white man to marry."
Once again, I was stunned at this blatant racism. It was as if my cousin searched far and wide for a white man and couldn't find one, so then married a black man as a consolation prize.
It's disgusting and horrifying that some people can't see love for what it is.
Now, the reason why I am writing all these comments down is as a reminder that even people close to you can have horrible views without you knowing it.
However, despite these horrifying statements, my cousin got married and they couldn't be happier. They are one of the strongest and happiest couples I know.
They have the support of their immediate families and they seem happy with that much. Our family friends can scoff and judge, but even they can't stomp on their happiness.
Whether right in your face or behind closed doors, there will always be someone with preconceived ideas about a race, group, etc. It's a fact of life. But that doesn't mean that you can't still be living and loving how you want. It might be cliche to say, but love wins.