Monday, August 6, 2012

Accepting that love is color-blind? Or is it no longer the issue…

“We are all equal in the fact that we are all different. We are all the same in the fact that we will never be the same. We are united by the reality that all colours and all cultures are distinct & individual. We are harmonious in the reality that we are all held to this earth by the same gravity. We don't share blood, but we share the air that keeps us alive. I will not blind myself and say that my black brother is not different from me. I will not blind myself and say that my brown sister is not different from me. But my black brother is he as much as I am me. But my brown sister is she as much as I am me.”
~ C. JoyBell C.

In a nightclub, a group of cute coffee-brown to high-yellow skin toned (and carefree) girls were walking around the crowd and dance floor, when one of them stopped. Her attention became focused on the middle of the dance floor and that attention quickly became a stare; a stare at this tall, light-skinned, gorgeous black man with easy dance moves.  Their eyes connected for a brief moment. He kept on dancing and she kept on staring. Her attention shifted to his dance partner; the person that had kept him on the dance floor for the past 6 minutes she had been staring. She was white… and that simple fact (at that exact moment) didn't sit well with her. She was pretty… but she thought she was prettier. She could dance… but she knew she danced better. But the obvious was that she was white… why wasn't he giving his attention and time to some of the black girls in the club? By now her stare had become obvious and intrusive, with sole objective being to generate a reaction from this handsome guy. He stopped dancing, and then whispered in her ears; they laughed, hugged and parted ways…finally. He turned around, stared back and started to walk towards the girl and her friends who had been watching him. Confidently, he stood in front of her, extended his hand and asked her to dance. She smiled, put her hand in his and they made their way to the dance floor, complete with a background full of giggles and laughs from her friends.
Was it a subconscious challenge that she had just won? Was it just the satisfaction that her assumption that this “black man she didn’t know would only like white women”, had been proven wrong? Whatever the case was, they danced all night long and today, 21 years later, they are still dancing…

That young girl who felt entitled to this black man’s attention, and that young girl who for the first time saw the “white” in white and the “black” in black as being different (just because she needed any reason to dislike the person taking the attention away from her); that young girl was me… And boy, was I silly.

What is it that leads us to evaluate people based on race anyway? Why do we care so much about the ethnicity of others? Are we that petty, or are we taught early to stay within the realm of our environments, and not to stray too far from people who look like us? Let’s delve a little deeper…..

“It is when we think we can act like God that all respect is lost, and I think this is the downfall of peace. We lie if we say we do not see color and culture and difference. We fool ourselves and cheat ourselves when we say that all of us are the same. We should not want to be the same as others and we should not want others to be the same as us. Rather, we ought to glory and shine in all of our differences, flaunting them fabulously for all to see! It is never a conformity that we need! We need not to conform! What we need is to burst out into all these beautiful colors!”
~C. JoyBell C.

I always have a good laugh when in the midst of a certain discussion. There were some Caucasians being questioned about not being honest about their feelings towards black people. They were saying “I like black people… I have 2 friends that are black and I let them come to my house…”
But at this moment, reading my intro story, I feel very hypocritical. I feel just the same, as I wanted to say at that moment in time, and certainly now, I had and have plenty of white friends; I’ve even dated a white manJ. Yet still, I had an undeniable pinch in my heart, for the first time, when I looked at the mixed couple as they were on that dance floor…
In hindsight, I realize that race had absolutely nothing to do wit hit. It wasn’t necessarily what she looked like and the color of her skin that upset me, but the simple fact that it wasn’t me on that dance floor with him… The fact that “she” was on the dance floor with the object of my desire, made me want to find something wrong with her… and unfortunately the only thing I could find (and the most obvious thing) was the fact that she was white. If he had been on the floor with a black girl, I’m sure I would’ve found something wrong with that picture also. Maybe she would’ve been “too Ghetto”, or maybe I would have called her a “No-good tramp”…. Who knows? It could have been one of my friends dancing wit him; that might have burned me to the core too. So, I’m hypocritical for snarling when Caucasians are on the defensive and trying to justify or prove their alliance to blacks, but I’m definitely relieved that (in spite of my silly fixation back at the club) I’m not a “closet racist”!

I was brought up in an atmosphere that had us believe that you shouldn’t get into an intimate relationship until you’re ready for marriage, and where it was a given that me and my siblings’ mates would be black. It was an assumed, unwritten rule which we quickly overlooked, with few of my brothers dating white women and one getting married to one. I gradually learned that attraction is far bigger and beyond race. We are attracted to characteristics, things that are not specific to a particular race. We like to focus on only a few specifications that don’t necessarily guarantee us finding a good mate. We all have our preferences and definition of what’s attractive to us, so shouldn’t we be able to focus on what’s appealing to us without exposing ourselves to criticism as our spectrum is self-limited and self-defined?

Why is there a feeling of that big “elephant in the room” when referring to interracial couples? Why the big controversy? Why do interracial relationships still stir up bitterness? Is it insecurity that makes us dislike the mixing of races, or is it simply (and sadly) the result of a history. which created this palpable interracial antipathy?

Early America showed an indifferent attitude towards the mixing of races with whites, blacks and Native Americans having children openly (the first bi-racial offspring was born in the 1600). However, things changed completely and quickly when institutionalized slavery was introduced, followed by anti-miscegenation laws that banned any union between the races and then stigmatized them. Laws didn’t stop the raping of African-American women by powerful whites and plantations owners (who were considered the superior race) while black men would be killed in a ruthless and inhumane manner for just looking at “the white woman.” With many States opting to accept and legalize mixed race unions and interracial marriages, in the US the act became all the way legal in 1967. That’s when the Supreme Court reckoned that anti-miscegenation stood to be unconstitutional and in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Even though marriage is part of everyone’s civil right; “Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State,” the fact that anti-miscegenation laws were in place until well into the middle of the 20th century, kept the relationships under stigma and reserved attitude.

So what are we left with? What did history give us as baggage to carry and overcome other than bitterness and resentment? What do we have, other than the need to have to fight tooth and nail for what we believe in and our freedom?

While interracial relationships have become widely accepted and enshrined, there are many myths and stereotypes that have surfaced. These myths cast a shadow on couples involved and sometimes prevent them from being fully comfortable open about it, like same race couples.

Here are some of the myths and stereotypes that have been floating around for years:
  • ·         White guys treat black women better
  • ·         Black women treat black men too harsh and that’s why they stay away and refuse to deal with them (black women)
  • ·         White women let black man get away with more (are more accommodating)
  • ·         Black men think of white women as a prize
  • ·         White women are “easier”
  • ·         Black women are insecure about their appearances and try to get “white people looks” i.e. straight hair, skin bleaching…
  • ·         White women get into a relationship with a black man just to spite black women
  • ·         All successful black men date white women because they are socially better, as they “know how to act” and will help their economic stature
  • ·         White women are with black men because they have low self-esteem or want to rebel

Are we ever going to be in the position of accepting that love is beyond color and laws?
I don’t think these stereotypes are what Mildred and Richard Loving fought for (against Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law in 1958) and ultimately bringing their case in the US Supreme court in 1967. I believe they defy the laws because they believed that blacks and whites are not opposed or incompatible, and that love is a human experience beyond race. We need to learn from the legacy of others and their experiences so we can appreciate and respect each other’s choices instead of hanging on to past wrongs and belittling those who dare follow their hearts. People are always going to judge you on everything and all the choices you make.  Stay focused on what makes you happy. Choosing who you want to be with is a matter best left to the heart and not to general opinion; and definitely not to race.

“I believe in recognizing every human being as a human being neither white, black, brown, nor red; and when you are dealing with humanity as a family there's no question of integration or intermarriage. It's just one human being marrying another human being or one human being living around and with another human being.” 
~ Malcom X

…But at the end of the day isn’t there only ONE race?
There’s only the human race. And within that race, there are different ethnicities, diversity in skin colors and different physical characteristics…

So my belief about interracial relationships is that whatever your heart desires should be dictating the course of your love. We should not base our relationships and love base on pigmentation, melanin and certainly not on someone else opinion. But have no fallacy on that matter; the acceptance from others concerning your relationship is not the biggest problem you will face. YOUR biggest issue (and the only that should matter) will be your ability to deal with and overcome culture clashes as the issue of interracial marriages/relationships is so much deeper than dealing with one’s color.
Picture a Muslim in a relationship with a Christian or a Irish person in a relation with an African… the relationship is possible but becomes more of a intercultural relationship which requires acceptance and concession of some of your core values; of what was ingrained in you from the start.
Imagine a blind person in a relationship, unless you let them know of the color of your skin, they would never know; but given some time, they will be able to assess like everyone else the cultural compatibility or lack thereof…

Let me ask you, have you ever been in an interracial relationship? If so, what was the “response” to your relation? Where your family and friends open to the relationship? Do you think most people date different race for experience or out of genuine attraction? Would you be upset if your child, brother or sister dated/married outside your race? Why or why not? Are you like me and think that most issues interracial couples face are more culturally and socially base than racially base?

To the freedom of love and acceptance,


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