I recently married into a family with a skin color a few shades darker than my own. A distinguished, open-minded family for sure, my new father, a Nigerian who got his PHD in California, my new mother has a masters from UCLA, my new sister has a masters and is married to a white man, and my husband who has his masters in economics from a London university.
I found myself using my new family’s achievements to describe them to my friends and family, in hopes that that would help them to see past the obvious racial barriers I was crossing. In my mind, I am being the change I wish to see in the world- but was I in love, or just on a crusade to squash racial differences in my own small way?
I am in love, but that was definitely one of the questions that was asked of me as I embarked on my journey. I had a whole slew of questions that bombarded me, most from my friends and family who were worried about me.
I had just been divorced from my first husband who was an alcoholic and everything else that went with that stigma, so obviously everyone was concerned. But J is different I kept telling everyone so. Most I am sure rolled their eyes and are just waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I am determined to make this work. Having lived in London with J, I had not experienced any racism in regards to our relationship (people are more open in Europe than they are in the states).
It was hard coming back to the US and the south for that matter. J & I live in North Carolina, you know…the state that bans gay marriage? Immediately upon return, I reached out to my friends who were in biracial relationships and asked them what it was like here. I remembered when J and I first dated 13 years ago, I caught hell from white boys who refused to date me, knowing I had dated a black man, so I was scared. My fears were real, every one of my friends in mixed relationships had been harassed at one point or another.
About a month into J & I being home, we found out we were pregnant. We were already engaged and had been since London, but no one knew, so with the baby present it was time to go public. The emotions were mixed (mind you no one knew of our baby at this point, just the engagement), some people were over the moon, some….not so much. (To this day, three weeks post wedding I have yet to get even a congratulatory card from anyone in my family.) No one in the family has spoken out against me, to my knowledge, but I certainly have had a few male friends speak their minds. What was meant to be a happy time was weighed down with statements like these:
“You’re ruining yourself! No respectable white man will have you now.”
“The B train is moving, next stop, trailer park.”
Yes, people I had known for years were THAT cruel to me all because I had found love with someone who’s skin was not my color? I didn’t realize the racism that was, and is still so prevalent…and prevalent in people who were friends?!!?
Following these outbursts, I had a period of slash and burn when it came to my friends. I realized I had grown beyond some people, our lives were not compatible, they no longer needed to be involved, so with today’s technology, it was easy…DELETE.
Jon and I have since announced our baby, who is due in about 5.5 months and the response has been overwhelming. So much love and support has come out for our little pickle. And our wedding…our wedding was the most colorful and lovely wedding on the planet. We had our gay and lesbian friends, our Asian friends, Puerto Rican friends, just about every color and ethnicity was represented at our wedding. Unity at its finest. Everyone was welcome, as long as you believed in love.
In the weeks since the wedding, I have started wondering where we could raise our child to shelter him/her from the ignorance some people possess. I had a realization- to experience different views is part of life, it helps you to grow, and our pickle will need to be open to the possibilities that people may judge, just the way we were judged for our union, but that wont define our child. As long as we provide a safe haven of love and understanding, our child will be fine, and free to embrace his/her African and European roots…and hopefully some day, the rest of the south will catch up.
Because when your heart is truly open, you see no color or distinction, just the beauty of life and love.