Originally published on Bows, Bottles, and a Briefcase.
I’ve worked on this post for a while now, and have hesitated to post it publicly. I’m not sure if I was fearful of the backlash from those who read it and disagree, or more concerned that my words may become misconstrued. While I am solely speaking of my own experiences, this post isn’t meant to take the sociological issue of racism and “white” it up. My intentions are pure, please read with love.
In 2012, I made the decision to marry the love of my life. I remember an incident when sharing with a coworker all of the reasons I decided to marry this man. He was gentle, kind, humble, and laid back. He reminded me so much of my father and because of that I knew he would be an amazing daddy one day. And then, he picked me up for lunch. The look on her face was one of bewilderment. I was accustomed to this look, the look that says “You didn’t tell me he was black.” It later came up in conversation and as I had done several times before, I defended my relationship with answers like “I don’t see color, I just see his heart.” But, the truth was, I did see his race; it just didn’t matter to me.
Shamon and I have been blessed to have families who love and support our decision to be together. I realize that other interracial couples are not treated with that kind of respect when pursuing one another. Though we will continually experience differences in culture norm, this is a challenge that we were well aware of before saying “I do.” Due to social media, there has been an increase in awareness of the mistreatment of black males in our society by Police Officers. I have often felt torn in my feelings of many mainstream stories that have come out, mainly because my husband is also in law enforcement and I worry daily as he sacrifices his safety. So, because I haven’t quite hashed out how I feel about many of these situations, I won’t comment on those specific instances. But, the fact is, my husband is a statistic. I may have a son one day. I have a daughter whom may choose to identify as African American. It wasn’t until I became completely enthralled into this life did I realize what my husband had been dealing with his entire life. Racism.
The countless times we haven’t been waited on while traveling through small towns…
Every waitress that has asked “Is this on separate tickets” and then proceeded to move the ticket book closer to me after Shamon answers “Same.”
The old white man that followed him around in Dillard’s for 30 minutes as we shopped for clothes for our unborn baby…
The text at 3 o clock in the afternoon that read, “There is a suspicious man walking around the neighborhood” as Shamon walked our family dog because I was too pregnant to do so…..By suspicious, they meant black.
The doctor that said “Is this the baby’s father?” Um yes, he’s my HUSBAND!
The ER technician that assumed he didn’t have insurance…
Every white person who uses the “N” word intentionally or “playfully”…
The woman who grabbed her purse a little tighter as he jogged past her in the rain to bring the car around so I wouldn’t get wet…
The father who looked with disgust and called for his daughters as Shamon helped them pump ketchup at Arby’s because he was too damn lazy to get up…(Skylar was clapping the whole time and saying “Daddy!”)
The glares, the rolled eyes, and the disrespect…
And, my eyes swell up with tears as I remember each of these moments, because each time he showed great maturity. While I reacted with “What are you looking at!?” and “OMG, Shamon did you see how she looked at you?” He showed grace. I can’t pretend to know what it feels like to live in a world while being surrounded by hate and excuses like “Well, they just have to do better for themselves.” But, I see it everyday when I look into the eyes of my husband. He is a black man who is educated, owns a home, volunteers, goes to church, tucks his daughter in every night, and protects the community, yet he still makes some white people uncomfortable…because of the color of his skin.
In naive moments, I like to think that racism is something that happened 50 years ago and a “card” that is played when somebody needs a way out. But, once you love a black man in America, there’s no way to deny the obvious, discrete and innate nature that people show with discrimination and hate. I become sick to my stomach when I hear my white friends complain about their inability to receive social services and assistance because of their color. I want to ask them how many times they have been judged negatively because of the color of their skin before ever even opening their mouth, as if white privilege is some fictitious theme that was just created as a defense for African Americans. White Privilege is real, and when you live it you don’t always have the maturity to own it. But, when you flip the tables, when you walk hand in hand with someone who lives racism every single day, you realize that defending yourself agains t “white privilege” is so much better than the alternative.
So, to the lady who walked into my office, gestured at my wedding photo and said “What’s it like loving a black man as a white woman in times like these?” I can tell you that it’s eye-opening, exhilarating, hurtful, exciting, terrifying, but so worth it. I can tell you that sometimes it feels like it isn’t much different than loving a black man as white women 60 years ago. You love him because he is important, kind, special, and a child of God. And honestly, it’s not much different than how it feels for a black woman to love a black man, or a black child to love her black father, or a black mother to love her black son.
You just love them with everything you have…because the world doesn’t.