I was awakened this morning by a dear friend’s phone call. She was audibly upset and proceeded to tell her story. She had been dating a man for sometime now and the relationship had progressed into a $5,000 engagement ring. I know this because she told me he let her know all that he was doing for her and couldn’t understand why she was responded towards him the way she was when they spoke lately. My friend went on to say that whenever she visited him in Alabama, she felt he would intentionally introduce her to his friends that he knew would be accepting of his relationship, but that she had yet to meet his parents – who he was caring for daily in their home. He had already met her father, family, and friends, but stated she had only met a handful of people in his life. She said that she expressed to him that she felt that he didn’t stand up for her. He explained that their relationship would be fine, things would change after marriage, and that just because he had never been in a relationship like this, there wouldn’t be any major differences in comparison. By the way, he is white and she is black (but wouldn’t you agree that any dynamic difference can fit in this category?) Anyway, her call was to ask if she was over-reacting.
I am positive in saying that many inter-racial relationships go beyond the sexually-led mystique and adventure. So many of these couples start from a place of simply noticing that they enjoy each other’s company, and not the taboo, rebellious, try-it-once-for-the-sex-but-I’m-not-marrying approach. Of course, the former group, though may undergo many trials and pressure from those around them for standing their ground, seem to be the most fulfilled, simply because they understand that respect for another being knows no color. They are the ones that usually have the most successful marriages – in terms of race relations. This observation and study is made of those from both groups. For this blog, however, I prefer to discuss and highlight the couples that went beyond their passionate desires and saw the person within and fell in love. Couples that may have faced a rude awakening that racism is still rampant today, and have overcame or struggling to make things work. How to respect another culture while still celebrating their own, and how dire it is to have the courage to stand firm, in faith, for self and the person chosen to be your spouse.
When I interviewed Janie* (names changed) for this piece, she began by explaining that she was multi-racial anyway, so no matter which culture she dated, it would be considered inter-racial. When Janie was growing up, she attended one-race schools and didn’t think much of races until she attended Jr. High where the school was integrated. And that’s where she developed her first crush outside her race. She also noticed a vast difference between the races – the differences in financial class, behaviors, and at that point developed a mindset on which race she wanted to have as part of her dating life. Her own parents urged her to date a particular race, which was odd seeing how they were a multi/inter-racial couple. However, it was well into her adult years, living as a Christian where she faced her own prejudices and discovered that in all cultures, there were wonderful people. She now is married to the love of her life, outside her race(s), and is raising their beautiful children.
Doesn’t her story hold true, especially without stating which race I was referring to?
The important thing to mention is actually appreciating that your other half, may possibly face ill-will, bullying, subtle pressure, and ostracizing from yours – and their own, family and friends once the relationship is established. However, there is hope. There’s ALWAYS hope.
- ) A HEALTHY SPIRITUAL RELATIONSHIP – In order to be successful for the long haul, in interracial dating, both parties must have something stronger than hobbies and interest to hold them together. As individuals, their own spiritual relationship must be intact enough to recognize the guidance it produces. Regardless if you call it a ‘gut-feeling,’ ‘intuition,’ or the ‘conscious,’ listening to that inner voice can be invaluable. When, (not if), the times of testing comes, each person must be able to find their reason bigger than themselves to have the courage to stand their ground. The trying times may not be in the form of society or acquaintances, but when very close family members give subtle comments, disrespecting actions towards your other half, or even disown you or your spouse’s family may do the same. Who will you turn to? What if you consider your bond with your parents close and respected? The time of testing may show its head in the least way expected, and that’s when it’s imperative to hold on to the Lord, in faith, for guidance, support and direction. The end result will either be a “spiritual nudging” to perhaps end the relationship momentarily until there is maturity, or permanently; or a confirmation to stand together in blessed union.
My own experiences with my husband and ‘situations,’ started with sitting at the table of a fellow church member’s home and being told that:
“Wow, do you have pretty skin color. My own complexion gets as dark or darker than you in the summertime. But you know, God loves white people more, ah-hahaha!..And you know, I just thank God He didn’t make me a black woman because I just wouldn’t know what to do with that hair! More potatoes?”
Actually, it started with his 83 year-old mother when I first spoke to her on the phone;
“So what should I call you, ‘black’ or ‘colored?’ I just don’t want to say the wrong thing. Honey, what does your mom call herself?’
Me (immediately): Ann
Both times, it not only shocked me, it left my husband dumbfounded. When I actually met his mom after we married, she came to our home and showered me with hugs and kisses and blessings for making her son happy.
Then the second time came, after the baby was born. After five minutes of being in our home, this is what the conversation looked like:
Me: So mom, did you have a nice flight?
Ma-in-law: “Well, yes except for when we landed in New Jersey. This black woman didn’t want to help me in my wheelchair and I know it’s because I’m white. That’s just how black people are, sorry if that offends you, but black people just are.”
With her added comments about my running in to the baby too much at the slightest stir, I did decide to have a little talk with her.
There’s so much to share on this, so this is going to have to be part one.
My hubby just came home and my daughter and I are excited to see him,
Love and Peace and Respect,
Shakira “Arikah Nash” Baly-Jensen, Founder, Two Hearts Offline Matchmaking