January 1, 2011

on new year's eve, my white boyfriend, and our new relationship

We are not revolutionaries or freedom fighters or anything like that. We're just dating. He's my boyfriend. And yes, he's white. He never says things like, "You're the first black grrrl I ever dated/kissed/fucked, etc". It's a non-issue. We don't spend hours and hours talking about race and class and gender and how he's a white male and I'm a black female and what that means. We actually spend most of our hours making out, eating, and drinking beer while making out. Our life is simple and quite beautiful.

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But last night was different. It was our first race talk. I honestly believe that when people are drunk, their real personality comes out. We were at a party, it was a little fun, nothing spectacular, a few of his friends were there, a few strangers. We felt welcome. Of course I was the only black grrrl there. I am the only black grrrl everywhere I go. I don't necessarily like it, but I'm definitely used to it.

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A little after midnight, a few more people (the hostess's brother and his wife) stumbled in, drunk and laughing and falling all over themselves. I am not a huge fan of drunk people and so I curled up closer to my boyfriend with my blankie in his lap.

To everyone: "Hey there's a black woman on our couch. How did this happen? This feels like undergrad". Awkward laughter from the other party-goers and then silence. I am trying to figure out what's funny. He stares at me. I stare back. My boyfriend says something to the effect of, "Dude this is my girlfriend".

I wanted to go home. The party wasn't fun anymore and I was tired. And so we decided to leave. I went around the corner to put my boots back on (because we had to take them off when we came in out of respect for the family's culture). I hear the brother say something like, "Hey what was that black girl's name? I want to make some more jokes about her that was so funny". I come back into the living room and look at him. My boyfriend says, "I'd rather you didn't, that's my girlfriend". Nobody else says anything. Not the hostess. Not my boyfriend's friends. Not the guy's wife. Nobody. Nobody says anything. We are left standing alone, fending for ourselves.
love Pictures, Images and Photos
I think that's pretty much how life is.

And so instead of ringing in the new year with laughter and friends and good times, we are alone in his bed talking about race and what our relationship means. If our families will like each other, what people will say, what our response will be, what we will do and say. We have known each other one week. We'd rather be making out or having sex, but we talk and talk and talk and then sleep.

I'd like to say that everything is answered now. That we have everything figured out. But we don't. I'd like to say there were lots of pictures to choose from on photobucket that depicted us, that a black woman and a white man was something that people thought of as "everyday life," that people considered us a "regular heterosexual couple," that people wouldn't stare at us when we kissed. Neither of us wants to answer questions about what it's like to be with someone from a different race. I just want to go places with my boyfriend and be treated with dignity. That's it. It sounds simple. Other people make it complex.

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This has everything to do with my feminism. Being a black woman, being considered desirable, finding someone to share my life with, being treated as less than human by pretty much everyone, being thought of as a whore or a video girl, being called a "baby mama," thinking about power structures, being told I am a traitor by black men when they have been dating white women for years, wanting to fit in, being seen as exotic or as a fetish or a prize. Fearing white men, but also fucking them and loving them and meeting their mothers. I am always on the edge. ALWAYS. There is never a time when my guard is down. There are no holidays. This is also part of my feminism.

I'm not really sure why I assumed that people were going to be somehow smarter and less ignorant about race and relationships in the year 2011, but they aren't. Think, love, question, call people out, respond, try not to punch people in the face, leave the party, discuss, move on, keep loving, never stop.