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Discussion: Love is Blind, but Those People Staring at You Can See Just Fine.

May 30, 2010

Most of us have been there–the old white lady in the walker whose false teeth smack to the sidewalk when you walk by hand-in-hand with your non-black boo.  What do you do?  Smile politely and try not to notice the string of spittle webbing from her bottom lip like that of a teething baby?

And how about Ku Kui and Um Fu Fu snickering, fat gold earrings clanking maniacally, as the two of you walk past Abercrombie at the mall?  Or…and  here’s the worst: the knot of brothers threatening to smack you to your senses with their enormous Mandingo penises.

And if this hasn’t happened to you yet, keep living–those folks are waiting on you.

I remember while dating my husband  I was hypervigilant of people who might be checking us out.  Remember that girl in the movie, Something New, how she felt like she needed to speak to every brother in the coffee shop just to prove she was still “down with the struggle?”  Yep.  That was me.  I also recall feeling a little confused when a very dark chocolate man shook his head in disapproval at me and Michael at a restaurant whilst sharing his table with a woman who had only about 1/1000 African American blood–maybe her great-greater-greatest-grandmother might and been…Creole?  BUUUUT, I guess that was black enough for him!

So next week I’m tackling a chapter about how best to handle outside scrutiny of interracial and/or intercultural relationships, and strategies on how not to let  it negatively affect the relationship.  In the meantime, I want to hear some of the coping strategies you all have employed to keep the disapprovers at bay.  Based on the poll I posted, most of you don’t let curious onlookers get to you, and coming in at second place are those who know people are looking but just keep the blinders on.

But what keeps you from feeling self-conscious, angry, or hypervigilant?  What strategies could you share with others so that they can better handle the pressure?

Let talk!  And stay tuned…next week I dish about what the experts have to say about all this.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. NiQ permalink
    May 30, 2010 9:59 am

    My mother remarried when I was 4 to my stepdad who is italian. My entire family looks like the rainbow coalition with all of my step brothers who are white. There were many times when me and my mom along with my stepbrothers got stares. Especially when we grocery shop and there is a loud black woman yelling at a little black girl and 3 little white boys in stop N shop…and all the stares would be blinding lol. I honestly can say that I never tried hiding the nonblack when we go out, if amything I would always hold him closer and tighter. When I’d get the stares from the disapproving, I’d just lay a big wet one on him and hold his hand…that will for sure getting them to talking. To me different races dating is great and I have never been one to shy away from what’s different.

    • randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
      May 30, 2010 11:43 am

      Wow, an Italian step dad–pretty cool. It’s interesting how interracial couples respond to staring. It’s seems to go primarily two ways: big, fat, PDA, or feign complete obliviousness. Which way is best, I guess that depends on the couple. Thanks for sharing!

  2. 3YS permalink
    May 30, 2010 10:43 pm

    I am usually a lurker when it comes to all things net, but I had to make a (long-winded) comment after a recent incident:

    My (white) BF and I were jogging at a park we don’t frequent and we took a water break at our car. A car full of black (roguish) young men proceeded to yell at me when they clearly saw my BF and I together. I ignored them of course, but they kept staring at us and parked next to us. We didn’t feel safe so we left entirely. On our way home my BF informed me that a black couple (roguish, also) that we passed several times were whispering and nodding towards us.

    I know people stare and talk, but I am so in love with my man that everyone else literally fades into the background, white noise as far as I am concerned. I think it bothers my BF more so to make sure he is focusing on the right thing I make sure he gets my attention and I let him be affectionate in public because I know he gets insecure or unsure. I smile at him often, make eye contact, hold his hand securely…I even go as far as saying I Love You loud enough for spectators to hear. It’s not about making a show, but trying to engrain in a strangers mind that interracial couples are just as loving, “normal”, carefree, and secure as same race couples.

    I admit, sometimes I like when people stare, it’s like-you see we don’t care, why do you care so much? I hope people assess their attitudes after seeing us together…Here is to hoping and three years strong.

    • randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
      May 30, 2010 11:02 pm

      You know, I am really fascinated by the flack BM give BW because they are just trying to be happy. Census evidence clearly shows that the majority BM aren’t marrying us and fathering our children, but white-boy-be-damned if he tries to show love and respect to a BW. I guess it’s one less woman they have to walk all over, and some of them must resent that. It’s like dogs peeing on a fire hydrant, marking their territory even if it has no interest in acquiring the real estate!

      I love your response and methods to reassure your boyfriend is a loving way. This is good advice for other women who have been in such confrontational situations.

      It means a lot that you wrote, and please continue! Welcome of the movement!

  3. May 30, 2010 11:58 pm

    Most of this behavior can be chalked up to a mentality that revolves around solidarity of black people. Black men have been ridiculed, browbeaten, and slandered in society for centuries. Black women have been portrayed as hypersexual primeval animals. This backlash has resonated since black people got the right to vote. While I can understand why SOME are justified and feeling some type of way, I don’t condone most of it because people are constantly using history’s wounds to keep the rift between races open.

    I got into it something FIERCE with a (now ex) friend of mine over this issue. Of course, most people who are SALTY over my relationship with a white man who loved and respected me before he even realized I was not only black, but AFRICAN, usually resort to ad hominem arguments, slandering him and some of the insults were so vile I won’t repeat them here.

    The bottom line is, you have to be prepared for the social backlash. I’ve been prepping myself since he told me he loved me and I said it back. You have to learn to let old wounds heal. If people weren’t so busy looking BACK they’d be able to see what was right in front of them.

    • randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
      May 31, 2010 8:01 am

      Aisha, that’s the key factor to remember as girls/women enter interracial relationships. They have to reject a Pollyanna attitude and be cognizant that people are going to look. The KEY is how you and your significant other process that scrutiny–will it cause you to grow stronger together with an us-against-the-haters attitude, or will it cause you to second guess the whole endeavor, and perhaps loose out on someone who could have been a wonderful mate?

  4. May 31, 2010 11:26 am

    Well, I honestly don’t notice anything, at least by ear, because I’m deaf, so I have very, very selective hearing; in other words, I don’t know what is being said unless someone explicitly tells me. I do have noticed stares from time to time but I don’t really pay attention as long as they don’t try to lay a hand on me. My hubby is a big guy and looks like he isn’t afraid to use his fists if it comes to that (he was in the military, plus he grew up with 5 brothers). Sorry, I can’t really give you any examples from the real world that I can think of.

  5. randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
    May 31, 2010 11:28 am

    Sounds like hubby knows how to handle business! Thanks for visiting, Lola LB.

  6. NiQ permalink
    May 31, 2010 12:30 pm

    All this talk is wonderful and very empowering. I love seeing fellow sista’s with men of different races cause it shows how open they are and that they aren’t settling and can think for themselves. Now all I have to do is find me a guy out here in northern california, and it seems as of I’m going to have to to cave man and knock one over the head to drag home.

    • randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
      May 31, 2010 12:38 pm

      oo-ga, boo-ga! NiQ-in Northern Cali, it should pretty easy to find someone! It’s very progressive up there. How are you going about looking for a potential mate?

  7. Robynne permalink
    June 8, 2010 12:00 pm

    Hi, I’m also usually a lurker but I’d like to share as well. I’m pretty good at looking right through people – especially when I KNOW they are staring. I perfected this technique long before I started dating out. I went to a predominantly white undergrad in a very white, small midwestern town where white people would stare at you for no other reason but for the fact that you are black. So I learned to look right through them. I’m no longer in that town (thank goodness!) – but when I’m out with my bf – esp in majority black areas – I look right through the people I know are staring. I really don’t care; most of them aren’t happy anyway and are resentful of what you have.

    • randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
      June 8, 2010 12:21 pm

      I think that is good self-protection tactic. Thanks for sharing. I’m sure other lurkers will appreciate your comment.

  8. blackgirlinmaine permalink
    June 12, 2010 4:37 pm

    Its been 19 years since my first interracial relationship, at this stage in life I stare back at folks. Depending on my mood, I may smile or if I am sensing they disapprove I hit em w/the stank eye. To be honest I rarely do that, generally I find a direct stare back and a smile breaks the ice and we can move on.

    • randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
      June 12, 2010 4:38 pm

      Good strategy!

  9. Jen Pahssen permalink
    June 16, 2010 2:40 am

    All I can say is I wish I found this online community 2 years ago when my now husband and I were dating. I too was exceptionally bothered by the disapproving shaking heads and long stares. Not to mention the eye contact that I’d make with other Black people when we were out and they’d telepathically communicate to me “You know better.” I never felt the need to “prove my blackness” or anything, but to think that someone had the audacity to communicate judgment and disapproval about something they had no knowledge of (my personal relationship) really insulted me. I simply thought I deserved the common courtesy and respect that I gave to others, when I’m out in public. I mean there are a lot of things I disapprove of, how about the fact that your children are wild and swinging from the chandeliers in the restaurant and disturbing my meal – I disapprove of that. And what about the fact that you have tried to squeeze into a size 6 pair or jeans and a teeny tiny tank top when you know full well you have not been a size 6 since 1983 – I disapprove of that too! But I’d never communicate my disapproval and pass judgment on anyone. How I coped initially, was through Marc. My husband is a very strong and confident person, not the shrinking blond hair, blue eyed white boy the brothers expect they can intimidate. His ease in dealing with these situations has been comforting to me over the last 2 1/2 years, because it meant I didn’t have to. One situation which really stands out to me is our honeymoon in Jamaica, while ordinarily I find leaving the United States a “refreshing experience” when it comes to acceptance of my interracial relationship, during my honeymoon there was one employee of the resort who felt quite different. He refused to acknowledge me as Marc’s wife, he’d always make comments insinuating I was just the Black girl who Marc fucks regularly. Lets just say, Husband wasn’t having it. AT ALL. He told the guy, “This is my wife and you WILL call her that and give her that respect” with the ‘or I’ll have to kick your ass’ tone in his voice. I laughed quietly and thought to myself, GO BABY!! 🙂 I can’t quite say how I cope with it now, to be honest with you I think I’ve just gotten used to it and it doesn’t elicit the same emotion anymore that it once did. I know people look, and that’s fine because I know we don’t look like a typical couple so I understand doing a double take. But its the judgmental, negative looks that are bothering me less and less now-a-days. Recently I find myself flashing my bling, oops I mean my ring (lol) to some to telepathically communicate back “Yes he wifed me, so take that!” All-in-all, I suspect coping with the disapproval of anyone with regard to how you choose to live your life has a lot to do with knowing who you are and being confident with that. As long as you are with the love of your life, when it’s all said and done – this is the ONLY thing that truly matters. xox!

    • randomthoughtsfromcali permalink*
      June 16, 2010 7:44 am

      Jen, where have you been all my life? Welcome, welcome, welcome!

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