An article from a first-hand personal experience on interracial relationships and the reactions they create in society that continue to defy the supposed end of racial prejudices.
Black and white that ain’t right is the look I get when I walk side by side with my african-american husband. My skin is pale, freckled and clearly of European descent. Those disapproving and even disgusted looks come from both sides of the cultural spectrum. Its not just a white prejudice. Black women give me angry looks and some folk just turn away and refuse to see us as a happy couple. White men look disappointed as if my choice in partner is an insult to their standards. Their eyes narrow or lips tighten and they look away from me while my husband endures hard glares.
On the other hand, this reaction is limited and is not typical of the behavior I have encountered in the eight years we have been an interracial couple. People on both sides of our families have been both extremely loving and welcoming while a few oddball comments have slipped. When we attend family functions one of us is always the white or black sheep but more often it is my husband who stands alone in his contrasting skin color while I more often find racial company in the functions we attend. I am certain part of this is the geographical averages of interracial development. I grew up in an area of Sacramento whose grammar and high schools could count the number of african-american students on half of one hand. In the time elapsed since I graduated high school and college, the communities that were once primarily occupied by white residents have become more culturally and racially diversified. And still, I get the looks that say -black and white that ain’t right- but they grow fewer and come more often from the senior community of old prejudice.
When we attended the Sacramento Juneteenth Festival this year 2009, I took it upon myself to purchase and wear a pin that said Proud to be black The vendor who provided the button was happy to collect my small donation but a few vendors down the row I came across a twisted lip comment Proud to be BLACK? as if I had no right to display such a comment because I didn’t belong to the black community no matter who I was underneath my surface pale skin. My reaction was to walk away and delete all her vendor photographs so that I would be sure to never feature her in any publication. I was hurt but not crushed. My husband’s comment was some people are just ignorant … lots of people understand that you’re supporting Juneteenth and the history of black American culture by wearing that pin. When I experienced my small hurt, I noticed how I wanted to reject and this in turn told me how wounds are often the prompt for racial prejudices that weren’t programmed from a lifetime of social persuasion. Hurt and pain often create a defensive reaction that strikes out at the easiest target. I felt a small core of racial prejudice budding until I took charge of the emotion and recognized its source as one limited individual rather than a culture as a whole.