in these discussions, the focus is usually on interracial relationships between non-white people and white people, so whiteness is constantly centered and anything outside of that is “othered.” in a world that places so much value on representation, it’s important to point out when the representation we’re given is shallow or toxic. not only are relationships between white people and people of color the focus of most conversations about interracial dating, there is a focus on the non-white partner being black. “there is a sense of familiarity given the history of black folks and indigenous folks in this country,” she says.
the intimacy of interracial relationships between people of color can lead to more complex and fulfilling discussions, but also more conflict over how to deal with it. but even in social media and pop culture representation of interracial relationships with white people, white racism is heavily sanitized or ignored. black women become the obstacle holding everyone back, a figure to be mocked and derided and ultimately ignored, even though it is black women’s particularly keen understanding of gender and racial power dynamics that often causes their wariness in the first place. and you definitely don’t need to be in an interracial relationship to have these conversations.
but when tommo tried to show her the painful video of george floyd’s death, jamila knew that there was something about her experience as a black woman he had yet to understand. “while it was eye-opening for [my husband], and made him want to talk about it all as he navigated what was essentially a new world for him, for me… this was just yet another painful story to add to the personal anecdotes of my cousins and friends. “conversations that he never dreamed of having and conversations that i am far too familiar with hearing.” in other instances, white men who have been married to black women have demonstrated that events this year made them re-evaluate their privileges: alexis ohanian, husband of serena williams, has stepped down from the reddit board to make space for a black candidate.
but looking back now it was due to the lack of experience on his behalf and my inability to explain the feelings and emotions.” in a time of racial reckoning it’s important that white partners especially are navigating their relationships differently. “everything must be done around this topic from a place of love and a place of wanting to create a space for equality in the world,” she explained. “he’s thinking more about what the world will look like for our future kids – who will be seen as ‘black’ by a lot of society – and what sort of issues they may face as they go from being ‘that cute mixed race kid’ into an adult.” the main lesson he’s learned, she says, is not to burden her with his guilt.
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