5 Things You Should Think Twice About Saying To An Interracial Couple
Interracial relationships, for some reason, are only spoken about in terms of extremes. They're loved or hated, glorified or judged, exotic or taboo. As one half of an interracial couple, I'd like to put some of the hype to rest.
I'm here tell you we're just like every other couple. Surprise.
At times, it seems like there's a magnifying glass on me and my partner. It still baffles me as to what exactly people are trying to achieve or find. Here are five things interracial couples want you to know:
1. We're not trying to make a statement.
Most people don't choose who they fall in love with. Therefore, by being in an interracial relationship, we're not trying to make a statement: We just fell in love.
I often receive comments from people of my race. They accuse me of some intentional, traitorous act, as if loving someone who – on the outside – looks different from me is a crime.
It's closed-minded, ill-informed and archaic thoughts like these that make negativity and bigotry flourish even in 2016. Love of any kind is not criminal. It's natural.
2. Stop fetishizing us, please?
We're totally over being fetishized. Interracial relationships aren't exotic. When you're in a healthy, consensual and loving partnership, the last thing you'd want to do is fetishize your partner.
Literally no one wants to feel like a monkey in a cage, being ogled by onlookers. The last thing you want is the person you've fallen in love with looking at you in that way.
Questions like, “So, what's it like to be with a black girl (Asian guy, Indian woman or Latino guy)?” are intrusive and arbitrary. Don't get me wrong; I'm not suggesting you wear cultural blinders and ignore what makes your partner unique.
I am, however, kindly asking the nosey people who aren't actually part of the relationship to stop fishing for us to confirm or deny their stereotypes or hunches.
3. No more baby talk.
Please stop playing hypothetical Russian roulette with how our children will look. Who's to assume that kids are even on the agenda in the first place?
More importantly, why do you believe you have the right to any opinion whatsoever on our sex life, life plans, biological clock, womb or whatever else it may be? It's weird when you look at a couple and tell him or her, “Oh, your babies are going to be so X.”
Fill in the blank: We've literally heard it all. However, the words “exotic” and “beautiful" are the most frequent. I think the worst is when strangers pick us apart and choose his eyes, my hair or his nose in order to create their idea of the “perfect, racially ambiguous specimen.”
Yeah. It's really strange, but it's far too common.
4. We don't have a complex.
Just because we're in an interracial relationship, that doesn't mean we dislike our ethnicity or that we're fighting against some un-diagnosed self-hate complex. Falling in love with someone is about not denouncing, denying or oppressing another person.
Human beings are so intricate and multi-faceted that something as arbitrary as the amount of melanin you have in your skin is not always enough to form a relationship. Even if you're the same race as your partner, that doesn't necessarily mean you have the same story.
It doesn't mean you have the same interests, hobbies or goals. You don't necessarily have to be on the same frequency.
5. It's not always easy being different from your partner.
It's hard sometimes when you see your partner going through things you may never experience or understand. It hurts when you see your partner suffer from racism, sexism or blatant disrespect, thanks to his or her culture or religion.
We notice when you stare. We see the awkward and not-so-subtle glances that are laced with both curiosity and judgment. Some couples learn to tune it out for the most part. We learn how to answer the invasive questions with patience, and oftentimes, with humor.
It's difficult knowing that you'll never know firsthand what it means to walk in his or her shoes. You'll never know the struggles that are unique to his or her cultural identity. You may not speak his or her native language, and you have probably never visited his or her place of birth.
You may not practice his or her religion, and as much as you love him or her, there are certain things that will always remain outside of your scope of understanding. That, in and of itself, makes you want to love him or her that much more.
At the end of the day, relationships are more similar than they are different. They have ups and downs, highs and lows and two people trying to do their best by one another. Each type of relationship has its intricacies: This is not just true for interracial or intercultural relationships.
Try to keep that in mind the next time you're tempted to either praise or condemn two people for doing the one thing that comes most naturally to human beings: love.