Trump Winning the Election Has Put a New Strain on My Interracial Relationship

I love my boyfriend, but he may not realize how deeply different the world sees us and frankly how easy he has it in this country compared to people like me.
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Natalia B.
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I love my boyfriend, but he may not realize how deeply different the world sees us and frankly how easy he has it in this country compared to people like me.

The sappiest thing I often tell people is that “David came to New York one weekend and never left."      

It’s partially true because, with no real plan or job, David began visiting me frequently here in New York while he lived in Chicago. We had met only a couple of months prior, but there was something special there. We just had an instant connection. He was cute, smart, funny, and generally made me feel safe. After one long weekend of constant loving and laughing, he just sort of ended up staying here. He lived with relatives for a couple of months in the suburbs, a couple more here in the city, and even at a friend’s newly bought apartment during the early days of its renovations. He found a job on a whim and eventually made his way.

Did I mention that David is white and I am black?

That shouldn’t even be an issue, right? Here in New York City in 2016, I think most people would believe that the state of interracial relationships has come very far. We are the thankfully years beyond the awful oppressive days of Mildred and Richard Loving, whose interracial marriage was banned back in the '60s. In the early days, race didn’t really matter in David's and my newly formed relationship; occasionally old white ladies and middle-age black men would give us odd or mean looks on the street when they saw us holding hands, but generally, most people don’t even give us a second look.

However, there is no denying that dating outside of your race can create awkward and frustrating roadblocks. There are just going to be some things that the other person won’t get, like why does it take so long to do black hair or what is the deal with quinoa? But most of it, at least in the beginning, was really easy and light hearted stuff to deal with.

By year two, things weren’t so easy. With the string of rampant police brutality, horrific sexual assault stories coming out, white nationalists infiltrating our government, and growing Islamophobia surfacing, I had found myself side-eyeing all straight white men more and more. It’s like everywhere I look, a white straight male is doing something detrimental to people like me and getting away with it. The patriarchy is heavy, and all of the shit that comes along with it has a way of clouding the way you look at everything and everyone — even the person you love. Being "woke" has its drawbacks, and being conscious makes the world a little more sinister.

A couple of months ago, David and I got into the stupidest argument. It was about his constant complaining about his job — something I’m sure most couples have fought about. Normally, I would be understanding — I’ve had my fair share of shitty jobs — but after months and months of this, I couldn’t take it anymore. He just kept complaining and complaining while making little to no effort to find a new job.

I finally said to him, “You are a straight white man with a four-year college degree from a great school. Do you know how easy it is for you to get a new job?”

He immediately snapped back, “What does being white or being a man have anything to do with getting a new job? Do you think they just say, ‘Oh, a white guy! Hired!'”

I fucking lost it. 

I blew up on him with statistics about the wage gap and how, yes, it is very easy for him to get a job and yes that "white guy — hired" thing does happen constantly. Even in female-dominated fields like the one I work in, most of the leadership and high executive roles go to men. I learned that all the men in my department at the time were getting paid on average $5,000 more than I was even though we had the same level of education, responsibility, and experience. 

Next thing you know, we were arguing about the foundation of our relationship: how easy it was for him to make it here in New York and find a job so quickly. It was obvious then that the ease was in part to his gender, his race, and financial privileges. We argued back and fourth for several hours. I stormed out of his apartment and went on a solo walk. That night, he apologized and we made up.

But this moment has stuck with me. It was one of the first times I realized how much David doesn’t see how deeply his privileges benefit him. I can’t help some days being furious about that and even more so hurt. I love this man, but he may not realize how deeply different the world sees us and frankly how easy he has it in this country compared to people like me.

If only all relationships were this simple

If only all relationships were this simple

When Trump won, I think those feelings amplified.

I stayed up late on election night texting with David until almost 2 a.m.

When Trump won Ohio, we both freaked.

“I can’t believe this. I can’t believe this is the same country who voted for Obama! TWICE!”

For David, it was a personal betrayal. He had worked on the Obama campaign in 2008, taking a year off of college to work in the outreach center. It was one of the points of pride that attracted me to him. He cared about things enough to do something tangible. He cared about "us." He cared about me. One of his most prized possessions is a blurry photo his mom has framed in their living room of Obama talking to David. He says he doesn’t even remember what they talked about.

Now watching those same states, the ones that had seemingly embrace liberalism, diversity, and change, fall back into red-state shenanigans fueled by hate and bigotry, we were both at a loss for words.

Trump’s win stung in a way I didn’t realize that it would. Here was my wonderful, passionate white boyfriend talking about how he couldn’t believe this was the same America who voted in Obama. However, that fact really showed me that he and other well-meaning white liberals do not understand the reality of this country — especially many of those white liberals who live on the coasts in giant urban areas. It’s like they don’t see how many truly racist, homophobic, sexist white people exist in this country. Trump winning should be a wakeup call for them. Statistics have shown that out every 10 Trump voters, 9 were white. I wonder if all those liberal white people understand that those people are also a reflection of them. No matter how liberal you are, the rest of the people who represent you are fucking awful, and I feel more than ever that it is your responsibility to speak up against them.

The day after the election, I went to a protest and surrounded by women of all colors and LBGT college-age people. The energy was electric, but exhausting and humbling. I noticed instantly a lack of straight white men standing with us. I saw David’s demographic standing on the sidewalks of 5th avenue, taking pictures and mocking us. It hurt, but it affirmed what we all already knew.

David and I met up for dinner later that week both deflated with exhaustion and fear.

I found myself saying, “If Muslims are expected to speak out against Islamic extremist terrorist attackers and women have to constantly hear about the less than 4% of fake rape allegations and black people have to hear about gang violence, then white people really need to answer for this.”

David just nodded.