“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?
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.
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.