I REALLY enjoyed getting everyone’s responses to part 1. It’s always encouraging as a writer to hear that your words mean something to someone. So THANKS. I hope part 2 is equally as real for you guys. xoxox
P.S. if you haven’t had a chance to read Pt. 1, check it here.
Let’s get back in it:
6. Everyone’s a little bit racist. In the early 2000’s a play surfaced called Avenue Q. It’s essentially a parody, adult version of Sesame Street. My community theater decided to give it a go. I remember laughing all the way through one of the musical numbers called “Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist” because it’s so true-even when you’re dating someone different than you. The thing about relationships like this, is that it simply shines a light on a lot of those things and can allow yourself but also the people around you to see their biases. But warning: this light can sometimes create a lot of tense air. When you start noticing how ignorant the words coming out of your mouth or someone close to you are, it can be hard. That’s okay. It’s simply a chance to see it, address it, learn from it, confess it, and grow from it. Racism is nasty enough by itself, the denial of it’s existence in our hearts and minds only extends its shelf-life.
7. I know y’all were probably waiting for this one, so here it is. You can’t control how your family will respond. This one surprised me actually when Cam and I first started dating, but it’s not a surprise that here in the south there are a lot of opinions and judgments about race that are based on nothing but a dark history and ignorance. Between myself and other friends in similar situations, I have seen every response on the spectrum from families: indifference, subtle disappointment, confusion, fear and even brash rejection. The reality is, as an interracial couple you have decided to actively nudge up against an existing culture. You have decided to say ‘equal’ when history screams ‘unequal’. You have decided to live ‘love’ when cultural undertones say ‘dangerous’ and ‘less than’. You’ve decided to say ‘this is good’ when the norm says ‘that’s uncomfortable’. But also, in many ways you have chosen difficult over easy, and parents want what’s easy for their kids. The best way to respond here (if there is room for response) is to keep communication channels open. To be understanding in a world where no one wants to listen and what started as a difficult thing could actually build bridges between entire families that once were at odds. That could be beautiful and that’s an amazing possibility.
8. In response to #7, learning and engaging someone else’s family is SO FUN and always interesting. So enjoy this, consult your s/o, and learn to love the people they love. Family stress from dating someone of a different race can often over-shadow some of the really beautiful parts about getting to know someone else’s tribe, try not to let that happen.
9. If the person you’re dating is the only person you’re close with of that color, you’re doing it wrong. In order to really care for someone, you have to know them and part of that is knowing their culture, their pains, their background. You can’t learn that from one person or one situation, but a lifestyle of intentional diversity.
10. You will never fully understand what it means to be your significant other. For girls, this might be really difficult (or at least for me it is). My idea of love for so long was being perfectly in sync, living and loving on the same wavelength, and being the complete comfort for someone when they are broken. Turns out, love is choosing to stay even when you can’t fill someone’s gaps, and sticking around even when you don’t know what to say. I am never going to understand fully what it’s like to be black in America, and that’s okay. I will learn as much as I can, and then I will rest. Because I’m not the end all for Cam, and I don’t have to be. Cam and I are both Christians and there’s a huge relief in knowing we don’t have to bear the full weight of one another’s pain because Jesus already did that for us.
That’s 10! And although it was a heavy 10, my 11 would be that loving your best friend is really really FUN no matter what color they are, and that’s totally worth the ride. Don’t back away from the hard processes, they are the storybooks of the beautiful.