“Wait. I did zip up my pants, right? Is my hair sticking up?”
“Ugh. My hair’s always messed up. Maybe I can check without seeming obvious?” I glance down quickly at my pants and my husband’s while sweeping my hand across my head.
These thoughts zip through my mind after walking into a doctor’s office with my husband. I’m black. He’s white.
Other patients (mostly older folk) stare intently, even if we stare back with a “wanna-take-a-photo” look. Sometimes I consider crossing my eyes and sticking my tongue out, but unlike these onlookers, I maintain my Southern politeness and civility.
Living as an interracial couple in Alabama, my husband and I expect our lives to be…well, different.
We’ve seen and heard it all: uncomfortable questions about racial inequity, conversations about our friends and families. You name it, we’ve heard it and we shrug it off.
Well, most of the time.
While cuddling with him one day, I giggled to myself at the things we’ve heard over the past few years. Here are some common statements that sometimes make us think twice about that person’s intentions.
1) “Are y’all together?” Most of the time, this is a perfectly valid question. Maybe you didn’t see us arrive together at a hotel with luggage and endearing smiles. Naturally, we stand right next to each other at the counter and chat.
Sometimes I want to respond, “Why, no. Generally I maintain personal space, but in this case I made an exception. I mean, look how fine he is! Ooo, is that his credit card number?”
2) “Just get over it. It doesn’t matter what others think.” I’d like to say “Let’s be honest. We’re human beings. I’d like to think I have titanium nerves and a perfect amount of self-esteem, but I don’t.”
There are times when others’ opinions and perceptions are important, or at least annoying. We aren’t emotionless androids. The constant staring, plus dismissive comments like these bug me. Everyday things like second-guessing where we travel together is a legitimate reason to roll my eyes and sigh.
3)” I just want ya’ll to know, ya’ll are always welcome here. This is what we heard from an employee at a fancy restaurant. He never made an effort to say this to anyone around us. They just got their glasses of water refilled. Did we find ourselves at the VIP table in the middle of the dining area?
I’m thinking, “Oh, so the couple next to us fanning themselves with massive stacks of cash aren’t welcome? Well, that’s too bad.”
4) “You live in the South? Oh, I’m sorry. You should move to (insert state here).” This is normally followed by, “Well, not everyone is racist in the South!” I’m a born-and-bred Southerner and have traveled far outside my home. I’m aware that both statements are true but woefully simplistic and stated by folks who hate hearing their state being portrayed in even the slightest negative light.
These moments will always make me smile, because the folks who say it are optimistic and empathetic. But sometimes, they do give us pause. Then we laugh about it, snuggle up and file it away as a special couple’s moment.
Copyright ©2015 Williesha Morris.
Join in the Fray: What statements have been said to you as an interracial couple? What was your response?
We love it when Williesha Morris guest posts for The Swirl World! To read our Loving Day post featuring her and her hubby Jason click here.
Williesha was named an “Agent of Change” by the Alabama Media Group for her work in hosting Loving Day Celebrations in her city. Alabama Media Group is a digitally-focused news and information company that combines the quality journalism from The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times, Mobile’s Press-Register and The Mississippi Press with the up-to-the-minute access of AL.com and gulflive.com.
Be sure to visit Williesha’s blog, Nerdy Thirty-Something Life. Find tools and resources for “the writer’s life” at her website, My Freelance Life. Follow Williesha on Twitter @WillieshaMorris.
Copyright ©2015 Michelle Matthews Calloway, ASwirlGirl™, The Swirl World™, The Swirl World Podcast™, The Swirl World Inspiration Daily™, Swirl Nation™, All rights reserved. Photos used with permission.
Jeff S. says
Looking forward to your account.
And to clarify, the long term relationship was NOT with a black woman. No resentments whatsoever towards them on my part because of it, or towards women in general, one disturbed individual does not an entire group make.
First of all – I’m sorry to hear about your last relationship. I truly hope you find peace.
Second – you’re not the first person to mention this about Berkeley, which is sad.
At some point, once I muster up some courage, I’ll write about how I was treated in the black community for being a “sellout.”
Jeff S. says
In “radical” Berkeley (which in fact has been getting much more conservative over the last couple of decades, as the town is being gentrified, the black population driven out, down to under 10% now vs 20-25% in the early ’70s), i encountered a different form of hostility, back in the late ’70s, when i dated a couple of black women, different than the racism expressed by both whites and blacks. It took the form of “radical” politics, with the woman being targeted for “betraying the community” or “selling out to the man,” while the man is tagged as “exhibiting an imperialist/colonialist mindset,” or being a “sex tourist..”
This was in contrast to black men/white women couples, as both individuals were deemed to be from oppressed populations. Class of douse didn’t figure at all in these political calculations, it really doesn’t in identity politics. It’s as if people of European ancestry cannot be subject to social/political/economic oppression.
And though i haven’t dated since then (was in a long term relationship, and have been totally “out of it” since it broke up), i’ve heard from other men undergoing similar experiences, right up to today. “Are you two together?” is one for sure i’m familiar with.