Let me preface this post by saying that I hate attention.
I hate getting stared at. I hate being the center of others’ gaze. And so on and so forth.
Dating outside of my race flung me right under the piercing eyes of the public — the stares, the sneers, the whispers…
It was a nightmare.
It was 2011 in New York City — deemed one of the most open-minded places in the world — yet it felt more like 1955 Montgomery, Alabama.
“Man these crackers are ALWAYS trying to take our shit! First they take our land, NOW they wanna take our WOMEN? This shit is has gone too far!” a black man, with a group of friends, said behind my ex and I.
My own best friend, a Latina, shuddered when she found out I was dating an Irish-American. “He’s just too white. I never thought you’d go for someone like that!”
She’s right — I did typically lean towards the Kevin McCalls, Lance Grosses and the Denzel Washingtons, but my relationship with my ex developed organically. We were friends for a long time and we both loved the same things — we loved playing football, baseball, tennis, archery…anything that got our pulse going.
And being that my friends weren’t particularly athletic and his weren’t either, we naturally gravitated toward each other whenever we wanted to test ourselves to the limit physically.
So when he said he was interested in taking things to the “next level,” I didn’t even blink. We were really good friends, so we’d make a really good couple, right? I also consider myself to be open-minded, so I said “Sure, why not?” I wasn’t even all that conscious of his race at the time.
But oh — society changed all of that for me and made me very conscious of his race.
One day, during a train ride from “the city” (Manhattan) to the suburbs, he said, dejectedly,”*Sigh* I don’t know why, but I keep getting these menacing stares from black guys. Like they look really pissed — for no reason. I keep getting dirty looks from them and it’s driving me insane!”
I did notice it. And I definitely noticed the gawking directed towards me, too — but it was from everyone. Whites, blacks, and everyone in between. At times it would be an ogle of curiosity, other times it would be a threatening glare.
But, I lied, gaslighted him, and pretended I didn’t know what he was talking about. “Hmm? I don’t see that.” They say that seeing is believing, and I didn’t want to believe interracial relationships were not accepted in a so-called “post-racial era.”
Everyday we went out to Manhattan, he and I faced some sort of altercation on the Subway. Most times, it was groups of women — many times women of color — shouting vicious things to us. It was because they felt as if I was “sleeping with the enemy,” so to speak. And there were some rare, very scary instances where I thought I’d have to square up, put my fists up and defend myself — and I knew that my skinny 5’5 self would lose heinously to the 5 women that would end up jumping me.
Luckily, it’s never gotten that far.
It was terrifying. I never even wanted to go out anymore.
“Let’s just stay home and watch some movies,” I’d say.
But even at home, I’d still question why I decided to date outside of my race after listening to him talk so ignorantly about certain subjects. One day, after we ordered Chinese and slurped on Lo Mein and munched on Kung Pao chicken, he said that didn’t understand what was the “big deal” about black slavery. “The Irish were enslaved, too!”
I laughed. I laughed so hard I damn near choked on the noodles. He sat there with a straight face as he just couldn’t understand why I was cracking up so much. Once I wiped the tears out of my eyes and settled down, I said, “YOU trade places with a black slave if it’s no big deal. I’m 100% sure you would prefer white indentured servitude, rather than being considered chattel for 300 years, plus the Jim Crow Era, plus the civil rights era, plus police brutality, plus institutional racism et cetera, et cetera…”
He didn’t respond. We just continued our meal in silence…and every once in a while I would stifle a giggle.
Another time, I was working on an article (I was a journalist at the time) about how statistics found that blacks, Latinos and whites sell and consume weed at equal proportions, but blacks and Hispanics were arrested at disproportionately higher rates than their white counterparts. When I told him about the story I was working on, he gasped. “OMG that still happens these days?!”
This time, I did not laugh. His ignorance was no longer endearing.
At one point, a mutual friend of ours — a dark-skinned Indian man — told me about how one time my ex (also his best friend) called him a nigger while he was drunk. Hell — even I don’t say the n-word, not even as a “word of affection” with the “a” at the end. This is it. This is fucking it. I am tired.
That’s when I realized. This shit was not going to work. But it wasn’t his fault. We just saw the world in different perspectives. He couldn’t “see” racism really, but I, on the other hand, no matter how much I tried to pretend it doesn’t exist, I would always see it rear its ugly little head in my world.
Along with seeing the world through different eyes, I wasn’t ready to become Rosa Parks and endanger myself everyday at the risk of racial attacks so that I could be in an interracial relationship. It wasn’t worth it. Not even a little bit.
We parted ways after a year.
I just want to say that I’m totally okay with others choosing to be in interracial relationships, but, I — personally — couldn’t see myself going through that again. To each their own!
That is my story.