My sister from another mister wrote this amazing article last year about her experience as the black wife of a white police officer. This year, she attended the Black Harvest Film Festival where her article was used as research for the film Plural of Blood. As a black woman married to a white man, I feel her plight. But I will say that I will never know the anxiety of being married to someone who risks their life to protect our community. My husband chose a different line of work. Speaking of the man of the hour…
I met my husband while commuting, over a decade ago. It was a time when I wasn’t looking for anyone to share my life with. I’ve been told that that fact makes me lucky. I like to think I am. During that time I was friendly with the men in my life but didn’t feel that they suited me nor that I suited them. It was a time of reflection. I’d lost my brother and grandmother within a month of each other earlier that year. My apartment, though I had been living there for two weeks already, was still under construction. There was a lot on my mind. Men were not.
He was listening to loud rap or rock music–neither of us is sure which–at 7 or 8 in the morning. This annoyed me as I typically listened to quiet talk radio in the morning and found his music offensive. My face relayed the awful expletives rolling around in my head as I shot daggers his way with a glare. Apparently, something in that glare appealed to him because I soon found myself exchanging small talk and being followed to my seat on the train. I joked with him for years that it was stalkerish. Now I know it was just his interest. I was young and had never been truly courted, let alone picked up on the train.
Men didn’t approach me with the class he displayed. Instead of arrogance, he wore confidence. He was kind with bright blue eyes that seemed to see everything. He joked about the fact that I was working closer to his field than the one I’d studied. We talked about movies and music. Then he wrote his number upside down in my notebook–something he’s teased me about since as I’m neurotic about my notebooks. I texted him within two hours, asking him out when a friend had canceled our plans for that evening. He was the first white guy I’d ever dated and the novelty of that wore off after the first few dates.
Our dates were plenty and ranged from walks in the park to concerts to gym workouts. We met friends and parents early on. We had our first major fight before we even made it to six months. Six months was the longest I’d ever had what I thought was a relationship. Getting through that first fight was difficult but it was what made me realize I wanted this man in my life far longer than that. I didn’t know for how long, but I knew it was no novelty. A decade in, past relationships pale in comparison. Most are faint memories of the life I used to lead. A life filled with male “friends” whose motives were indiscernible or questionable at best.
People watch, so watch people
We saw plenty of stares, even in cities where diversity was celebrated and abundant. On the subway, I was told “remember your color” by someone not my color. It was a style of racism I had yet to experience. Not because of my skin tone, but that of my partner.
If I chose to walk away from love solely based on the fact that the hue of my husband’s skin doesn’t match mine, then I would have done us both a disservice. I would not have a live-in best friend to laugh, commune, and debate with. I can’t help who I walk in love with. I can help who I allow to affect my relationship. So naysayers be damned. If you have a problem with who I love then you have a problem with me, those that accept me, and the children we love.
Have we had troubles? Yes. Every couple does. How much of that trouble was due to our skin tone? None. Zero. Zilch. Some have found this hard to believe, but it’s true. Any problems that have arisen have been typical relationship stuff: money, relatives, kids. What we don’t have a problem with is communication. The fact that we both strive to maintain an open mind when discussing problems is what has kept us happy, kept our family happy.