Last Friday, Old Navy used an interracial family in a Twitter ad, and the Internet racist trolls lost their minds. The vile series of tweets were shocking to many, and a reminder that racism is real, alive and well. Many in interracial relationships took to Twitter with the hashtag #LoveWins to show support for the retailer being current in their ads. Jack McCain, son of Senator John McCain shared his photos with his African American wife, with a sweet note that told the racists to “eat it”.
I was no exception. — I shared this:
In our journey together, we have encountered the societal resistance from all races.
We get the white women who can’t possibly see what he sees in me, and will try to approach him. “He couldn’t meet a good blond woman like me, if I talk to him he will leave her” their eyes say.
African American men will give me blatant “side eye” on the street for “leaving my own race”. I’m a bit understanding of this, knowing how in the days of slavery, the slave masters would violate the sanctity of marriage and African American women’s bodies by raping them, leaving African American men powerless to stop it. This continued into the Jim Crowe era, when white men raped with no repercussions. That generational pain runs deep. However, times have changed. Ask Daniel Holtzclaw, the former police officer from Oklahoma serving 263 years for the sexual assaults of multiple African American women.
At an event, a judge told me a story of how on a particular Caribbean island, the women would marry white men so that their babies would be lighter and have better economic opportunities. He looked at me very pointedly as he told the story. I looked him evenly and said “how sad that the women felt they could not marry for love, and the economic conditions are so desperate”. This same judge refused on multiple occasions to acknowledge my husband.
My husband was dealing with customers one day at work. The companion of the customer felt the need to make a crack that “Obama is a thief“. My husband became unglued, knowing that the same would not be said of a white President. He angrily told him “Hey, my wife’s black“. The guy backpedaled, and said some ridiculousness.
But what sticks in my memory is visiting the small town in northern Idaho where my husband lived for a time. We still have a home there. We were at the grocery. There were a few unhappy looks, but I brushed them off. However, apparently the anger was so palpable to my husband that he became very concerned. He revealed to me in a discussion later that night that the town 45 minutes away was known for Ku Klux Klan activity.
I began to think in the dark, what would I do if someone burned a cross on the lawn? We were on five (beautiful) acres. No one could hear you scream. The police take at least 30 minutes if not more to respond.
If a cross burned, would we stay to prove a point? Or get on the next plane home?
Luckily, we never had to make that choice. But we did have the rifle in our wingspan.
Just in case.
How do we deal with it all?
Much of it we ignore. We laugh when we can, but we also have really intense discussions on race. My husband accompanies me whenever possible to see my work on social justice and the criminal justice system. We seek to open each other’s eyes on our points of view. I teach him about life as a person of color; he teaches me about how to further climb the ladder to success.
We were watching Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift one night. The main character was a young white man in a world of trouble with an Asian gang. Even though he was in a position of weakness, he demanded of one of the Asian crew to teach him how to race cars in their particular style (drifting).
I looked at my husband and said “that’s the ultimate in white privilege. How does he even think to do that?”
He looked at me, smiled, and said “Yep. You should try it sometime”.
The lesson? Be bold, be brave, and step out of the box that people place you in. And don’t self-deselect.
It’s all about love, communication and having a true partnership.
Love is not about the color of one’s skin, but the content of their character.