There’s an old adage I heard plenty growing up.
“If she can’t use your comb, don’t bring her home.”
I haven’t the slightest clue who said that first. Some probably don’t even know what it means. However, I knew exactly what it meant.
Marry someone who is from the same racial background as you. Someone that understands the struggles of being a person of color. Someone that can comprehend the complexities of life through your eyes. Be with a person who gets it.
This age old quote represents a society that shunned African-Americans for everything. Especially their hair. As such, we had to stick together, uplift each other, and express pride in our beauty.
Times have vastly changed, and by the time I came along, life wasn’t this simple.
My home state is literally 90 percent Caucasian. To say it lacks diversity is a gross understatement.
Growing up, I did not see very many African-American women in real life outside of girls at church and my family. I crushed on Dominique Dawes and Vivica A. Fox, but they were celebrities. So, their beauty was a magazine glance away. It wasn’t in my face real. For what seemed to be years, the beauty I saw was in white women. Not because I only preferred them, but because I didn’t have another racial/ethnic group to show me anything different. In my high school class of 485 graduates, I can count about 10 black kids that graduated with me. That’s the absolute most I can recall. Out of those 10 people, I can remember a few black girls. One gave us the brother label which is the equivalent to being homies, the second I wasn’t really attracted to (her sister was cute, though), and the third was like my little sister. Nothing was going to spark off with those three. What’s a brotha to do?
Date who’s around me.
Now, that confession will anger some black women. I might be getting side-eyed right now. Some may feel betrayed. Others may have put me in the “coon” category. That’s not the case at all. My eyes were not opened to the true beauty of my African-American sisters until I was in college. Some of my shyness to approach black women was because I felt I didn’t know how to relate. Simply put, it’s different when you grow up around white people.
What about that comb adage?
I’m one of few black people around here that didn’t ascribe to that theory. Most are either waiting for a fresh crop of black people to come in. Or, they are waiting until they move from North Dakota. I’m not like that (I do want to move though. Badly). My mom raised me to see people as people. So, I did just that. Now, anyone who knows me knows I’m well aware of racial issues. I’m also very outspoken about it. Part of my learning experience was through interracial relationships.
Relationships already have plenty of barriers as it is. You meet someone, get to know them, navigate feelings, and in some cases fall in love. The component of race is the icing on a multi-layered cake. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s just more to think about. Especially if you’re getting serious.
For myself, the older I got, the more I understood how race can affect relationships. For instance, acceptance. What happens if your wife/husband is not accepted by your family because they aren’t the desired race? Do you cut your family off?
Kids. You’ll have biracial children in an interracial marriage. What do you tell the kids about their ethnicity? It’s easy to be honest with children letting them know their ethnic background. However, when they step out of the house it’s a different story. However the world sees you, then that’s how they will relate. For example, one of my best friend’s kids is biracial. You wouldn’t be able to tell because he’s fairly dark-skinned for a biracial child. People will see him and automatically assume he’s black. They are probably surprised when they learn his mother is white. That’s the nature of society.
Now, I’m looking at this from a black and white perspective (apparently I shouldn’t do that). The truth of the matter is biracial is biracial. A person could be Black and Filipino, Filipino and White, Mexican and White, Native American and White, and so on.
You might think I’m being negative, but this is reality. Interracial dating/marriage can be tough, but the barriers can be overcome. There are scores of interracial relationships that have thrived. Sooner or later, you start to see people as people. Yes, culture is different. But, one can assimilate to culture. My question is this: Do you love them?
In the end, love is all you need.
[GIF Credit Giphy]