Kentucky Church Flap Shows Interracial Couples Still Have Hurdles

The sentiments seemingly behind the Kentucky church's original vote aren't only in Appalachia or the South. They're in pockets across the U.S. I know because I've fallen into some of them.
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All she did was perform a song in the church she loved with the man she loved. Apparently not everyone liked that.

Stella Harville is white and her fiancee, Ticha Chikuni, is black and late last month, the Kentucky church Harville attended since she was a child voted 9-6 to ban interracial couples from becoming members or being used in worship services.

When word of this Jim Crow-esque vote seeped out, there was the appropriate hue and cry. Which is good. Then a week later the church overturned the vote and passed a resolution welcoming "believers into our fellowship regardless of race, creed or color." Which is better.

But still, the race genie is out of the bottle. And this holy mess at the Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church reminds us that as a nation, we're still not where we should be when it comes to race.

The sentiments seemingly behind the Kentucky church's original vote aren't only in Appalachia or the South. They're in pockets across the U.S. I know because I've fallen into some of them.

So between you and me, how do you really feel about interracial couples? Are you OK with it as long as: A) It's not one of your children? B) It's not in your church C) They're not gay or D) The couple's happy.

For me, I'm D. Chase your happiness. I did.

I am a black woman and I married a white man. We met in college. (Where else could a Kansas girl meet a boy from Norway?) Falling for a white guy caught me by surprise. I never thought I would date outside my race. I always said I'd be open to it, but figured there just wasn't a white guy out there who would "get" me.

I mean, who else could understand me like a black man? Who else could see the hard ugliness that lies beneath subtle racisms? Who else could understand why it's a near death sentence to playfully throw me into a pool or make jokes on how I tie my hair up before going to bed?

As I've said before, sometimes relationships with white people can be trying, I didn't want to have to bring those "teachable moments" into my relationship. Thankfully the Norwegian doesn't have those Americanized racial blinders and he sees what I see. More important, he sees me.

We were a lucky interracial couple in that our families didn't care we were dating outside our race. Though some of our "friends" did. I lost a lot of black male friends once I began seeing the Norwegian. One even asked me: "Why do you have to date a white guy? You're one of the good sistas." (Huh?)

Some of the Norwegian's buddies commended him for testing out the Blacker The Berry Theory. Needless to say, we both winnowed our friends list.

We also quickly learned that when we walked into an all-white place or an all-black place we'd get strange looks, some gawking, some disapproving. Once while walking down the street in Atlanta, a group of black guys heckled us for about a block. I responded with the proper amount of belligerence.

The Norwegian has had to check people too. There's been times when someone's made a racist comment or joke and he's responded: "My wife's African American." It apparently gets deathly quiet after that.

Most of these things have been quite manageable and haven't hurt our core like the pain of your childhood church banning your interracial relationship.

And to be fair, we've thankfully had unexpected pleasantries. While walking down Chicago's Michigan Avenue one day, a drunken, disheveled black man wavered toward us, pointing an accusing finger. "You guys are..." I held my breath and nervously clasped the Norwegian's hand tighter. "... a beautiful couple! You can see the love all over you two!" I smiled.

We've been together for 13 years and over time, most of the racial hiccups have mellowed and day-to-day I don't think about how I'm married to "A White Man." He's simply my Hubby.

And when others don't like that, it's their problem. Hang in there Stella and Ticha. To borrow a phrase from a noble project: It gets better.

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