So I’m going to get a little personal today. I wrote an article a while ago and submitted it to Puckermob about my experience of going into an interracial relationship and the racism I encountered from my own family because of it. It was a very personal subject, but I knew I couldn’t be the only person going through it and it was something I just truly felt needed to be shared. Many people read it and shared it and could relate to it. I had people from all over reach out and I think that it’s important that I talk about it again now that some time has passed and I can reflect on what I’ve learned.
A little back story…
My boyfriend and I were really good friends before we started dating about a year and a half ago. As soon as my family found out that I was with someone that wasn’t white, they really lost their sh*t. I honestly had no idea that racism was so deep-rooted in my family until this came up. Basically, nearly all of my immediate family turned their backs on me. They degraded me and told me what a disgrace I was. They took everything away from me – life insurance, took me out of the will, said I wasn’t allowed to visit and if I attempted to, I’d be arrested. I’ve dealt with comments like “It’s pretty disappointing that you’re dating a black man” and had to hear how they are “saddened for me that this is the only person I could find” like dating him is some sort of punishment. I received so much backlash and truthfully to this day, I still don’t understand why. I couldn’t (and still don’t) understand how anyone could disown me for something so ridiculous as skin color without ever even bothering to meet him. And the most ironic part of this whole thing? My boyfriend is adopted by an incredibly awesome white family. If you’d like to read my original full story, you can find it HERE.
Since then, nothing has changed really. I still don’t speak to most of them. Last month, I took a trip to Florida to see my grandma for the first time since this all happened. My aunt and her husband live close by and both of them put me through so much last year that I was hesitant to go, but I didn’t want to put off visiting my grandma any longer. Her and I have maintained a pretty good relationship through all of this which I am so grateful for and more time is never promised in this life. I figured I could be cordial if I had to see them and everything would be ok.
While I was there, we had plans to go to a concert and my aunt was going to pick us up and take us to dinner first and then drop us off at the show. On the way to dinner, she pulled into an empty parking lot and asked my grandma and I to get out of the car and said she would be back in a few minutes to pick us up after she dropped dinner off to her husband at home. I thought this was a really bizarre request and it took me a second to realize that I wasn’t even so much as welcome in her driveway. Not only was it completely disrespectful to me, but to do that to my grandmother as well was more than out of line. In that moment, standing there in this empty lot, I tried to hold it together, but I just lost it. Being made to feel like an outsider in my own family because of their own personal beliefs is one of the worst feelings I’ve ever felt. Nobody should be made to feel that way ever.
The one good thing that came from that trip was that I got the chance to spend time with my grandma and also to talk more with my her about my relationship and open her eyes. She even talked with him on FaceTime which was the cutest thing. Before I left, she told me that she approves of my relationship and said she’d even walk me down the aisle if I wanted her to if and when that day ever comes. That meant more to me than I can put into words.
It’s been a pretty rough and depressing time in my life, and even though it’s still a difficult subject to deal with, it’s also been very enlightening. There are many life lessons I’ve learned from this, but here are the top five that stick out in my mind the most:
1. I’ve learned that many couples in interracial relationships find themselves in the same situation, dealing with family or friends who turn their backs on them for dating outside of their race. I never would have realized that this was still such a big issue if I hadn’t gone through it myself. The problem is that not too many people openly talk about it. If this is you, don’t be afraid to talk about it. I know it’s scary. I know it’s controversial. But keeping quiet isn’t going to fix the problem. Being honest and discussing it and opening eyes is how we work toward a solution. How can we ever change as a society if we don’t address the problem or continue to act like it doesn’t exist? How can we raise our children differently so that they don’t grow up seeing color and repeat the same cycle? Find your voice. Be the change.
2. I’ve learned that the people that should be there for you above all might not be, but the people you would least expect will be. You can’t change people or their beliefs, especially if they are not willing to be open-minded to something they don’t understand. No matter how much it hurts to let them go, if someone is toxic to your life, you have to know when to go your separate ways. I can tell you it will probably hurt, but I can also promise you that it gets easier as time goes on. There is no place in your life for people that only love you when your decisions suit them. Getting rid of toxic people makes more room in your life and in your heart for good people that love and support you regardless of your life choices and that is all you really need.
3. I’ve learned that family is just a word to describe blood relation, but doesn’t actually mean anything to some people that you never thought would turn on you. Somewhere in all of this, I’ve lost the meaning of family altogether. My dad called me out of the blue for the first time in a year recently. I thought maybe he had had a change of heart, but when I asked him about it, he said he didn’t want to talk about it and was still not ok with it. That he only wanted to talk about me and how I was doing. I was a little choked up and very confused after that phone call. Of course I want a relationship with him, but I can’t comfortably talk to someone that wants to pretend like one of the biggest parts of my life doesn’t exist. I’d rather keep my distance than be around people that show me conditional love. Your real family are the people that choose to be in your life without stipulations.
4. I’ve learned that I don’t need to depend on anyone but myself. My family has typically always supported anything I’ve wanted to do in life so not having their support about this was new territory for me. I felt very alone. I spent many months begging them to at least take the time to meet him or talk to me about it and was always met with a firm no. For the longest time, I wanted so badly to believe that they would come around. That something would just click and we could be accepted as a couple. It never happened and now, I could care less about what anyone thinks and I am totally content with that. I have accepted that things will never go back to “normal”, but that I am perfectly okay on my own.
5. Most importantly, I’ve learned that you should never let anyone else’s opinion keep you from doing what you want to do in life – whatever that may be. Just because it’s not for them doesn’t mean that it isn’t right for you. At the end of the day, you have to live with the choices you make and just because it doesn’t suit someone else, that’s okay. If I had listened to them and walked away, I’d probably be going through the same continuous cycle of dating people who didn’t really care about me and treated me like dirt like I had been before. Don’t ever lose your happiness trying to please someone else.
This isn’t a sob story or meant to make you feel sorry for me. Its not for attention or social media likes. It’s meant to show you that this isn’t just something that you read about in the news – this is something that happens to people in the community around you every day. It’s meant to show that you can be white and still experience racism. It’s meant to inspire you to be open-minded and to be a part of changing society and the mentality of which we raise future generations with.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic . Drop a comment below!
PS… This is us 🙂