My Experiences Being in Relationship with a Black Woman

Being in relationship with a Black woman for over 17 years has made racism very real to me.   I wasn’t totally naïve in knowing for example of Strom Thurmond’s Black daughter as well as Thomas Jefferson’s hypocrisy in being a slaveowner who had an entire Black family.  The rape of Black women by white men has been covered over by the myth of the Black rapist assaulting the innocent white woman.

I was, however, shocked early on when my cousin said to me: “There is more to a relationship than Black pussy”.   He was offended when his words were shared with my partner.   When we went to NYC we were surprised, when after waiting in line for coffee, chatting continually, the clerk innocently asked: “Are you together?”.   The same cousin, when we got together, explained that while “Joe” works in Manhattan with his multi-racial co-workers, he goes home to his white neighborhood in an outer borough where he can be “honest” with his friends about his feelings.

2010 U.S. Census data shows that 8.6% of Black husbands have a white wife, while 0.3% of Black women have a white husband.   Dividing 8.6 by .3 shows that the difference is roughly a ratio of:  25.8/1.

Seeing Confederate flags on the back of pickup trucks in rural Florida is different for me now.   Neither of us presumes that we are safe from attack.    It was very upsetting when we stopped at a small motel because our perhaps 7 year old child needed to do “number 2” to be told “customers only” in Southern rural Florida about 14 years ago.

I have learned of racial microaggressions that my partners faces many times a year.   Meeting a white female work contact for the first time after multiple phone calls hearing: “You don’t look at all like I pictured you” is not something I ever experience.  

When we were in Kauai and B entered a small boutique.  The shop owner left B alone.   A white woman entered and immediately the shop owner talked with her.   Was it because:  they knew each other or the woman was white or the woman was not large-bodied?   B will never know.
April 28, 2019:

I arrive at the main stage seating area, setting up for my wife B and myself.  I tell my neighbors that my wife will be arriving perhaps in 20 minutes, because I walked much faster to save us as good a space as we can get.  B arrives a few minutes later.  We are sitting in identical chairs 4 inches apart on our tarp with an umbrella partially covering me and completely covering B.

  Food and water is by both of us.

About 90 minutes after my arrival, and 75 minutes after B has arrived, one of our neighbors, a middle aged white woman spoke over B to me, saying:
When is your guest arriving? …

It was the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day and we were walking among huge crowds in South Beach in Miami Beach.   Constantly, we had to move to avoid colliding with others walking in the opposite direction.    After our relatively brief walk, my partner told me, that not a single white woman had yielded to her.  What bothered me greatly was that I didn’t notice it at all!   It was far from the first time that my partner had experienced this!

The woman paused a little and then said:

"I'd like to ask you a question.   Can Black people be racist"?

I replied:

"That's a somewhat loaded question for me because my wife is Black, my two step-children are both Black/biracial.  In my immediate family, I'm the only White person." (see full writing)

It is important for me to confront my white peers.   One attempt was hard for me to accept.

I try to be aware and pro-active.   It is so, so easy to be intellectual and not emotionally connected to the issues most of the time.   Then I remain silent and tacitly accept racism.   As much as I can imagine how it is to be Black, emotionally most of the time I’m not strongly connected.
I am racist.   I am white.   I will always be racist.   Robin DiAngelo addresses the issues most expertly.   My work is primarily with white men.   I will not leave the work to People of Color, though I have for most of my life.


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