I never thought being a black woman in an interracial relationship in 2016 would be tough. I’ve been with my boyfriend for about a year and a half now and prior to him, I never seriously dated outside of my race. I was never opposed to doing so, it just never happened.
Two days before my 25th birthday, I professed to the Lord I was ready for love and whenever he was prepared to give it to me, I promised I wouldn’t ignore it.
I celebrated my birthday with a cruise to the Bahamas with my best friends. One day, there were a group of guys that we met ― amongst them my future boyfriend ― and we were all talking by the pool. Later that night we went to the club on the cruise ship. While all my friends were on the dance floor, I sat at the bar drinking water ― I was a little hungover from earlier that day.
While I was sitting there debating whether I should leave or not, a guy (later known as Stephen) came over and started talking to me. I noticed he was drinking water too and he mentioned, like me, he was hungover from earlier that day. Next thing you know, over the loud reggae music, we began to have a full conversation about life, love, and even our family.
We arrived back in Florida after the cruise and spent the entire weekend together. Weeks later we fell in love and the rest was history.
Recently, I found myself in a casual conversation with a few black women in relationships discussing black love and the benefits of it. One of them asked me, “Are you in a relationship?” I nodded my head and smiled.
She said, “Black love is a beautiful thing to be a part of isn’t it?” Assuming I was in the same situation as them. I replied, “Black love is indeed beautiful, but my boyfriend is not black.” Immediately there was an uncomfortable silence followed by an apologetic response.
What was there to be sorry about? Am I not a part of the group anymore? Am I not relatable, because I don’t have a black boyfriend?
I felt an instant awkwardness and the dynamic amongst the group changed. What was there to be sorry about? Am I not apart of the group anymore? Am I not relatable because I don’t have a black boyfriend?
I told the ladies that love is love, and I was thankful God brought my boyfriend into my life despite his fairer skin complexion. At the moment I realized, black love felt like some sort of club that I lost my membership to because I didn’t pay my dues.
I never thought it was a big deal because when I look at Stephen I don’t see color. Cliché, right? But it’s true, I just see the man that I prayed for and my best friend.
Because of everything that’s going in the world, I sometimes feel awkward sharing with my fellow sisters and brothers that I am in an interracial relationship. When we are speaking about the tragedies and difficulties of being black in America, I feel that after I mention I am not with a black man there’s some judgment.
I recently sat on a panel for The Grapevine TV and the topic was: “Is it possible to be pro-black in an interracial relationship?” Now, prior to this panel I wouldn’t have thought the notion of pro-blackness weighs on whom you are dating. One thing that stuck out to me during this constructive debate was one guy who said, “It’s impossible to be pro-black in an interracial relationship, because if you were pro-black, you would do anything to preserve the blackness.”
Initially, I was taken aback by that comment, because I didn’t realize that was a specific criterion for being pro-black. If I don’t date, marry, or have kids with someone of the same race, does that mean that I don’t want my people to advance?
Am I not allowed to express my frustrations with police brutality and racism because I’m not in love with a black man? Is it not valid if I scream out “Black Lives Matter” and “We Gon Be Alright?” Or if I post “Black men, I love you and I am praying for you,” even though my father, uncles, cousins, and grandfathers are all strong black men?
Am I not allowed to express my frustrations with police brutality and racism because I’m not in love with a black man?
One of my close friends mentioned to me she was hesitant about posting anything about black love on Facebook because she didn’t want to offend me. I told her not at all would I be offended or think anything of it, but I definitely appreciate her being considerate of my feelings.
But why should it be weird? Why even think that sharing your love and happiness will upset me because my love is of a different shade? Is there some sort of unspoken rule that we as black women are putting on ourselves?
My parents are the epitome of black love, being married 32 years, and, yes, it’s a beautiful thing. They’ve always taught me to be with a man who treats you with respect, puts your needs before his and ultimately loves you for you, despite his skin color.
I can definitely say after a week of dating Stephen, I took my clip-ins (extensions) out, put my bonnet on, popped my retainers in, and he didn’t even flinch. I guess it’s safe to say he took me for me.
Now I’m not going to play a complete victim here because there was a point in time if I saw a black man with a non-black woman I would give a little eye roll and think, “I guess he doesn’t like black women.” I mean let’s be real, we all have had that thought at one point or another.
But now since I’m on the other side of the fence I see that’s not always the case (sometimes it is but not always) and they didn’t purposely say I’m not going to date someone who looks like me (again, sometimes not the case.) And just because they are not with a black woman doesn’t mean they don’t embody everything black (again, again, sometimes.)
I know it’s tough not to judge a book by it’s cover and we are all guilty of doing so because that’s the society we live in. Nowadays when we see a Muslim and black man we assume they are threatening. When we a see a Latino we assume they’re illegal, and when we see a white man we assume he thinks all of the above.
I don’t have to tell you that majority of the time these stereotypes aren’t true. But when you see someone in an interracial relationship, try to forget whatever judgment you may have and remember they are going through their own struggles just by being together.
To anyone who reads this, I want you to know I don’t want to be seen as stranger to my own culture just because now I have another culture to share. I don’t want to feel like the kid who is stuck in the house, looking out the window while his friends are outside eating popsicles.
I want you to know that I’m still here, still standing proud next to my European man, with my fist in the air, with my natural hair (well, transitioning under some weave), my dark skin, and I’m nothing less than black.