Those of us who are in the Swirling lifestyle know that there always someone ready to rain on your interracial parade. When I interviewed Gene-Leigh, I asked her: Did you two have any issues regarding your relationship, either from you, your families, or outsiders?
Here, Gene-Leigh candidly shares a few of her and Seth’s experiences.
Seth’s Eye-Opening Experience
Seth recently went through an episode at work where during the course of a conversation with another worker, the person made a racially disparaging remark. When he came home that night, I could tell that something was weighing heavy on him. He told me the story, and I sat quietly and listened attentively to him. As a Black person, what he told me didn’t surprise me at all. But he was shaken completely to his core because the person who made the remarks was someone he KNEW–and he had no idea the person felt that way about Black people.
The one thing he weighed on him the most was that he was too shocked to respond: “In that second, I felt like I wasn’t defending us. I felt like I was letting us down. I was shocked into silence.”
I comforted him, and assured him that I was just glad he didn’t give the guy a taste of his fist. My Seth is a gentle giant—-he’s built like a linebacker, and can hoist me around the house on a good day. I didn’t want him to get written up at the job.
I didn’t think Seth was letting us down by not responding–how do you respond to something like that when you’ve never had to DEAL with something like that? Understand this, readers: Swirling can be tough not only on Black women, but also on our mates. They are possibly exposing themselves to situations they have never experienced before as non-Black men. Seth was shocked into SILENCE (which is saying a LOT—he’s an ex-punk rocker after all, NOTHING shocks those guys).
Seth looked at me and said: “I didn’t know people were still that way. I didn’t know people thought like that.” I told him that there will ALWAYS be people who think and act that way, because there always have been—-I’ve been through it my entire life. I think after that incident he saw me and my life experiences with new eyes.
Seth’s Facebook Encounter
A few weeks later, Seth got into a small disagreement with someone he was Facebook friends with because the woman and her husband dressed their (white) son up in Blackface and a dread-locked wig to resemble his favorite baseball player at Halloween. Of all of the comments, Seth was the only person who questioned if the costume wasn’t offensive to some degree. The guy blew up, and defended his decision, saying “My kid really idolizes this guy and the player had no problem with it,” which we both knew was a lie.
All Seth could do was stare open-mouthed at the screen. He turned to me and said: “How can he think that’s okay? Is he nuts?” I smiled, kissed him and gave him a hug. What else could I do? Sure it was wrong (I mean he MIGHT have slid by with dressing the kid in only the wig–but BLACKFACE?). I know people can’t always understand what they don’t live. Seth has learned that challenging someone’s belief systems surrounding race can be dangerous.
Haterade from Black Men . . . .
One time when we were in the grocery store once I got hit on by this guy in the jelly aisle (seriously???). Seth was further down the aisle picking up bread. It’s amazing (but not surprising) to me the assumptions people have about others, because the whole time this guy was hitting on me (as I did my best to ignore him) he had no clue my husband was a few feet from me (Seth knew full well what was going on, we’d played this game with people before, and if I was in ANY trouble he would have come to my rescue–but I’m a pretty tough chick).
It wasn’t until I said: “Baby, do you want grape or strawberry?” and Seth answered with “Peach” did the guy get the clue. I gave the guy the sweetest smile, and held up my left hand with my diamond-encrusted wedding ring before saying, “Sorry.” And what did I get? A look of the utmost contempt from the guy before he stormed off.
. . . and from Black Women
We’ve also gotten nasty little barbs of insults from Black women who feel that our relationship is less than valid because we happen to be different races. One girl pointed at us in Sam’s Club and said, “There’s yet ANOTHER one,” before rolling her eyes in disgust (personally I was more disgusted that her ‘man’ couldn’t seem to keep his pants up and I had to catch a glimpse of his Spongebob boxers–but I digress). o_O
Why Gene-Leigh and Seth Shake the Haters
My husband is an awesome man. I’m not just saying that because he’s my husband, I’m saying that because it is the unmitigated truth. Why? Well, primarily because he puts up with me and my various eccentricities without so much as batting an eyelash (“Okay, Gene, okay, I’ll take the laundry down and kill the spider . . . .). He goes out of his way to make me feel completely and totally beautiful, special, and worth it (he once drove out of his way in an ice storm to bring me roses). He’s brought a measure of joy to my life that I never thought possible, and while we can both annoy the hell out of each other (“Dammit Seth I just cleaned the kitchen and NOW you want to eat!”) I can’t see spending my life with another person.
So why, pray tell if we are so happy and so loving and caring are there people who want to destroy that based on something as superficial as race? Why should my happiness be tamped down, questioned, and doubted because my husband isn’t the same color that I am? I wish I knew the answers to my questions, but as Bob Dylan sang, “The answer my friends, is blowin’ in the wind.” We’ve had our share of doubters—-a few family members, one friend, and other complete strangers we don’t know—-but it hasn’t shaken how much we love each other. As a matter of fact, it brings us closer together.
Join in the Fray: Has the Swirling road been tough for you? In what ways?
I’m blogging every day in the month of January in Blogher’s NaBloPoMo Challenge. Thanks for reading, and feel free to comment!
Copyright © 2013 Michelle Matthews Calloway, ASwirlGirl, All rights reserved.
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