Keeping It Real About Interracial Relationships as a POC Part 2
A couple of days ago, I wrote about keeping it real in interracial relationships for people of color (POC), but primarily Black people. It’s a complicated issue that requires a ton of work on the part of the POC. What I’ve found is that white people will only do the work if they have to, and I won’t even get into the ones who do the work to get laid. They are just gross.
But it’s a real issue for a lot of people for complicated reasons. It may be for survival. It may be because you like challenges. It may be that you have a lot of internalized self-hate and that directed your quest for a partner. It may be that you have had horrible experiences with people who share your race and you thought you’d find something different with someone who looks different. Maybe that’s the only demographic around. There are a multitude of reasons why you would choose to be close, either platonically or romantically, with someone white. Some of these reasons are acceptable and some not so much, but it’s not my decision. My hope is that you learn why you made these decisions and to offer ways to keep the relationship as safe and emotionally healthy as possible.
And to do that, these are some other realities I needed to accept.
Reality #4 – You can’t lie to yourself about reality.
The hardest thing I had to face in my relationship was being honest about the fact that I’d married a racist. Sure, he wasn’t an angry, violent racist, but he was a product of his environment. America is a terribly racist, violent, and hypocritical country. It is a country that constantly and consistently lies to itself about how great it is. Then it tells that lie to the world despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The lie of American exceptionalism has eroded this country into a massive human rights violation with leaders who lack the ability to address its problems because they can’t stop lying long enough. We elected a racist, sexist, ableist, xenophobic, pro-corporation, anti-environment, anti-LGBTQIA, unqualified man for president because people in this country cannot admit to their fucking biases. White people were surprised that their friends and neighbors supported Trump because they spent too much time trying to convince Black people that we were misinterpreting racist situations instead of listening and recognizing racism in their white circles.
It is this lying, this self-deception, and this ridiculous need to control how people see you instead of doing the work to be better human beings that leads to fucked up, life changing, toxic situations. If you can’t admit your biases and limitations to yourself, they will damage your relationships. If you can’t admit that you are a product of your environment and figure out how that harms you, it will harm your relationship. There’s a reason why Black people must confront their own anti-Blackness – it is to see the ways you harm yourself so that you fix it before you harm others. And white people need to take a long hard look at themselves and accept that they were raised immersed in racism and white supremacy. Only then can they begin to dismantle it.
You can’t be honest with others if you can’t be honest with yourself. You also can’t fix shit if you won’t admit it’s broken. Be honest with yourself and then fix your shit.
Reality #5 – They won’t always understand.
The thing is, these experiences are personal and are rooted in how we interact with the world and the way the world interacts with us. While there are some similarities, no white person can truly understand how racism affects me. And that’s ok.
What I needed was support and caring. I need my white friends to believe me and accept my truth, regardless of how it differs from theirs. For any relationship to work, there must be trust and if they are denying my reality, we aren’t friends. They are allowed not to understand but they cannot dismiss or deny. That is bullshit.
Reality #6 – The work to confront racism doesn’t stop.
It’s constant. It’s necessary and makes self-care hella important. Please remember to take care of yourself and to put yourself first. You don’t have to do maintain your interracial relationships. They are optional. In fact, if it’s harming you, it’s okay to break up. Hell, I encourage it. This is a deal-breaker issue. The work that you need to do will always exist and it is exhausting. The people with whom I’ve been successful did a lot of work to prove to me that they were worth the effort and I’ve embraced that this might change. They may still cross a line that will destroy our relationship because this is too important to treat casually. I’d be lying if I didn’t share that there were days I’d cry and ask why I chose this path for myself. It hurt and it took a long time to get to a place of healing. We know that we still have work to do and we accept that it will never stop.
This concludes the six hard realities I faced in my interracial relationships. They are not the only truths, but they are the ones I needed to understand to manage my relationships.
If you are a person of color and plan to have close relationships with white people you need to understand that it’s work. It’s constant, messy work. It’s work that makes you feel vulnerable. It’s work that will empower you. It’s work that will hurt and heal you. And, if that person isn’t worthy, it’s work that’s optional. I chose to do this work in some of my relationships and while I have been successful in some, I’ve failed in others and I can’t count the number of people with whom I didn’t bother to try. In many cases, they weren’t worth the effort and frankly, everyone isn’t capable or willing to have real dialogue about racism.
Maybe it’s time for white people to get out of their feelings and fucking accept what they are. It won’t kill them. In fact, it’ll heal a bunch of shit that’s wrong with this country and eventually make it a better place for everyone.
Or we’ll burn it to the ground. I don’t know what to expect anymore.