Seeing Past the Surface

What Is Love?

Is it a feeling or an expectation? Take me back to 1950 and you would find me up against a wall or in the back of a cop car because I am a white woman who loves a black man. They’d say I am in love with neither an expected nor accepted color. Why are we limited to other people’s expectations when it comes to whom we choose to love? If it makes a person uncomfortable, it’s taboo. If it causes uprisings, it’s illegal. We live in a world that is all about change, making progress, and new innovations. So why is it so hard for people to accept when an interracial couple walks into the room?

For two and a half years, I have been mad for my man. I am madly in love with him and mad about the inequality that he faces. I grew up in a small country town full of its country opinions. He was the star of the football team, and he always had the ball with a smile on his face. During his senior year, he stole my heart like he would an interception. He ran with me, nestled in his arms the whole way. We are currently attending the same college together, where it seems the students here find it much easier to mingle among different races, but find it much harder to share that with their parents.

The first time my family found out I was dating a black man was on Christmas day. I was surrounded by my cousins, aunts, and uncles in the basement of my grandparent’s home. They cracked a few jokes here and there, and I expected it. It wasn’t until my cousin’s husband took it too far and I decided it was time for me to go. The faces of my father and sister changed when they saw I was no longer laughing. I stood up, hugged my father with tears in my eyes, hugged my grandmother, and left the Christmas celebration. I will never forget that day, because it continues to remind me that people do not know when to stop. One half doesn’t know that they should stop judging, and the other half doesn’t know when they can stop fighting.

A Tense Situation

This is Kelly’s story of love. Her struggle is shared by many who are in an interracial relationship. The stares, crude jokes, and flat-out rude remarks are all a part of the price that she pays for loving someone with a different skin color than her own. People who have never been in an interracial relationship or have dated a person who is outside of their race just don’t understand what it’s like. Assumptions will be made about you and your relationship, no matter how solid and true those claims are.  They’re both on the receiving end of constant criticism.

When you strip away all of our superficial needs, we all want the same basic things: love, support, happiness. All of these things are basic human desires. Just because you are a different ethnicity than another person it doesn’t mean that you are fundamentally different on the inside. With this fact on the table, it’s baffling that some people are still so opposed to interracial dating.

The pseudo-science of white racial superiority has been disproven for years now, so why can’t we all just get past this and accept the fact that people come in all shapes, sizes, and colors? Refusing to date anyone outside of your race eliminates millions of potentially well-matched suitors based on just a first glance. Those who refuse to date outside of their race could meet their soul mate (if you believe in that kind of thing) and not even give them the time of day. And for what? Tradition? Saving face in front of your family? This argument just doesn’t hold water.

Although dating outside of your race is fringe to some people, marrying outside of your race is even more taboo. A 2010 Pew Research study of interracial marriage found that %15 of all new marriages between US citizens were interracial marriages, and although this is double the amount that it was in 1980, it still seems to be shockingly low. The study also found that while %44 of people felt positively about people of different races getting marriage, %11 thought that it affected the country negatively.  Though we live in a country that boasts about its freedom and happiness, there are still a small amount of people that believe you can be separate but equal.

A Different Perspective

As a black woman, I have encountered many situations where people have made negative comments about the way that I choose partners. My philosophy is just to go with what feels right, not what will please other people who are on the outside of my relationships looking in. I don’t have a type. Tall, short, loud, reserved, black, white, or anything else—it just doesn’t matter to me. Every single person that I have been involved with has been completely different, even in regards to race. I don’t like putting myself in a box or judging someone that I haven’t even given a chance. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t know someone just by looking at them. I find it absolutely ridiculous when people say things like, “I’d never date a ginger” or “I only date black girls.” When I hear people say things like this, I just want to yell, “Snap out of it, these things don’t matter!” Yes, I understand that you have to be attracted to your partner. But before making these assumptions, you should question where these ideas stem from and what they say about your level of superficiality and discrimination.

Like Kelly’s family, some of my family members also don’t believe that I should date outside of my race because their own negative experiences of being verbally or even physically assaulted by other races. While I know that these fears of interracial dating and marriage are rooted from dangerous times, I just can’t find it in myself to carry these negative feelings into my own generation. This hasn’t been easy. I have gotten some of the rudest comments to my face just because I was seen being affectionate with someone outside of my race. I get asked if I think that I’m too good to date black guys, or if I am doing it because I am mixed race. I was even told that I’m just playing into a fleeting fetish of my partner. But I’ve learned to just brush these things off and move on. I can’t stop people from being ignorant, and believe me, I’ve tried. Even though somebody saying something rude about my relationships isn’t going to stop me from living in a way that I think is true, I want people to know that it isn’t okay to give others flack for being happy.

Although myself and Kelly aren’t trying and persuade you into thinking anything, we both wanted to share our experiences with interracial dating with the world. If you feel like you are being held back from dating who you want just because of some misguided attempt to please others, just stop. At the end of the day, this is your life. Make your journey towards happiness and do it with no reservations.

— by Lauren Pickens & Kelly Corcoran

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