You Don't Get a Gold Star For Being In An Interracial Relationship

My parents didn’t get married to shake things up -- they just fell in love. People’s terrible reactions are what turned it into a "statement."

Dec 15, 2013 at 3:00pm | Leave a comment

There seems to be some confusion surrounding interracial relationships, which might be the result of them being largely ignored in popular media until recently. It would be great to set some things straight.

Brown people marry white people for the same reasons that white people marry white people: love. And sometimes money and convenience and insecurities too.  Just as the fairy tales show a blonde or brunette, straight-haired princess and her tall, handsome, not-too-dark prince fall in love, let’s be very clear: That is also what’s happening with interracial couples.

Mixed-race couples have been a thing forever, even if you just recently started noticing (or even stumbled into one yourself). They have been a thing for so long that there are specific words for the children of interracial couples! The joy I felt stumbling across the word "mulatto" in a history textbook -- in realizing I am not the solitary unicorn or unique snowflake I was always made to feel like.

image

Me, being a child at Disneyland (and failing to be a "fuck you" to the system).


But I get it. You do feel special when you do something that isn’t being reflected on TV sets across America. Sometimes I feel like a badass for having curly hair, even though it’s very common and not at all a reason to feel like a badass. Just like loving someone outside your race is not new and really normal for a lot of people, even if you’ve never done it.

If you’re dating someone to take a stand against oppression, stop. Nobody’s got time for that. People love to trot out the Lovings to show how an interracial relationship changed history, but Richard and Mildred, like my parents and many others, seemed to just ... love each other. They weren’t fighting for you, really; they just didn’t want to be forced apart over something dumb, because they enjoyed spending time together.

My parents didn’t get married to shake things up, either -- they fell in love, and people’s terrible reactions to that are what turned it into a "statement." I know that the public’s reaction to my mother having a black husband and mixed (brown) children gave her an education she’d never have gotten otherwise, but my parents would have loved us just as hard if we had the same amounts of melanin. The children of interracial relationships are not created to be a "fuck you" to the system -- they’re born out of love and lust, like single-raced kids.

Don’t get me wrong -- I love that we’re finally discussing race more openly as a society, because it’s long overdue. It’s great that more people are open to talking about interracial love, but it's not something that should be measured in trends. I’ve even noticed recently that white writers covering race topics will casually insert the fact that their significant other is of another race, almost as a qualifier, like they’ve got enough experience to be offended. If you’re white and writing about a race issue, fine -- you would be allowed to have that opinion even if your partner wasn’t a different color.

And this should go without saying, but ... please don’t date a black man because the Kardashians are doing it. I understand Kanye West isn’t referring to himself as an accessory; he’s talking about normalizing something on a larger scale that is already common. But Kim and Khloe don’t deserve special credit for having fallen in love. If you’re a white woman getting talked down to for dating a black man, have a conversation about the emotions behind it --  you’ve got millennia of stories on your side. But if you’re hanging out with a friend group in which you have to point to Kanye and Kim's relationship as an example for almost anything, good or bad, maybe just take a moment.

Being in an interracial relationship does not make you a champion for equality or a friend to all races; it doesn’t make you not racist by default, and it doesn’t make you an expert on the subject. It just means you found love. You can have all the opinions you want, but no one gets a gold star for falling in love.