When I was younger, my mom would take one Saturday a month to deep clean the house. Often we knew it was coming because we would be woken by the sounds of gospel music playing from the kitchen and my mom sing-song “up up up up up!” It’s one of my most vivid memories from childhood. But every once in a while, she would trade up the Kirk Franklin for Nikka Costa. A beautiful songstress with a gentle voice, who sang one of my favorite songs. She would recite, “I am a woman, with a mission and a past to outdo…” She then goes on to mention how the earth has spent 1000 years making up for what we humans do to it… and then she says, “so have I for you.” As a child, I had no idea what these lyrics meant, but I knew that they meant something. I have always loved people. I’ve allowed myself the ability to see the BEST in them, but I’ve endured the WORST from them.
When I first met my husband, I was completely aware of the “problems” we would take on as a team in an interracial relationship. Our biggest problem…other people. My biggest problem, the brokenness I’d developed from letting other people dictate my life and subsequently my emotional wellness. My husband is the exact opposite. He doesn’t allow others to “rent space between his ears,” as he would say.
Before I met Sam, I’d already endured many instances of hate in the past related to my interracial relationships. People just didn’t understand why people like us would be together. Why would a white man want to be with a black woman or vice versa?
I remember the first time I rode a city bus hand in hand with my husband. An older woman looked at us with death glares, and I was so aware and so frustrated. But Sam only had eyes for me. He didn’t notice that she was staring or what it meant, and I got so upset with him. How could he not see the hatred that we would endure? Not just now but possibly for the remainder of our relationship. How could he not see it?
I was still young, and I felt the need to prove something to the world. I’d look around, eyes squinted and ready to pounce as I waited to see who was watching. However, I would still let go of his hand if I felt uncomfortable, and I would get mad if I saw people gawking. Sorry to shock you but, yes, people still gawk at people in interracial relationships. It’s almost as if we preach to the world that race doesn’t matter, skin tone doesn’t matter, none of it matters, and then we see it. None of it matters until we experience it first hand. My husband likes to call it NIMBY… it’s okay but “not in my backyard.”
Before meeting my husband, I had many interracial relationships, and most of them ended because I was Black. As a young woman, I felt ashamed when my boyfriend’s parents would say, “why would you want to be with her?” “What will people think of you?” “If your grandparents find out, they’re going to cut you off.” You know what was even worse? Hearing it, seeing it, and living a life where my boyfriend would accept his grandparent’s money over the love I had to give.
So when I met my husband, I was worried about the same ignorance. I was worried about the same messy situations I had gotten myself in before. Turns out if someone loves you, that’s all that matters. But we also have to do our own healing. I now understand what Nikka meant when she mentions the earth spending time making up for what we do. I get what she means when she says that we have a past to outdo. She means to be our best and truest selves for someone else, we first have to heal our own hearts.
I’m thankful for my husband and his patience as I healed from my past. I no longer feel the need to prove that I am enough, my relationship is enough, or that my family is enough. While we have experienced hatred, lots of stares, and countless silent judgments… we have learned how to love stronger, we have learned how to fight harder, and we have figured out how much it matters to be aware but how little it matters what people think.
Now when older women look at us with death glares, we understand it. Not everyone will always love what they see when they see my family. Now he, too, can see the hatred that we endure. He can understand that this may happen for the rest of our lives. His eyes are open, and he is aware of it. Thankfully, he only has eyes for me. And “so have I for you.”