Halima and Evia have recently blogged on the importance of sisters "spreading the word" to each other about the world of options available to us, and the crucial importance of empowering ourselves to go after those options as the birthright they are.
I want to address a related topic, for those sisters who have already stepped out to exercise their options, only to find themselves faced with the stern disapproval of not only strangers, but sometimes their nearest and dearest.
I come from a family that has always had tremendous racial pride, but has also put the well-being and happiness of the family above all else--so while they were somewhat surprised by my interracial relationship, their ultimate concern was whether I was being treated as I deserved. Once they were reassured on that score, they were were as happy for me as my fiance and I are happy together.
I know some sisters don't have it that easy, and must cope with family, friends, and acquaintaces who are challenging, unsupportive, and even hostile to their relationships. Any relationship requires nurturing, and healthy communities invest in healthy relationships, which are the foundation of a thriving and ascendant people. It's a shame that instead of being supported in their positive choices, from which all around them will also reap the positive benefits, too many sisters instead face isolation, scorn, and stereotypical questions like these:
1. I thought you were "pro-black"?
While the people who raise such questions rarely define what they mean by being "pro-black"--other than either being with a black men or being alone--for me, the response to such a query would be fairly straightforward: I was born black, I will die black, and I will live every day in between black. I love my blackness and I love black people--indeed, I love humanity, with all it's flaws and foibles. There is no contridiction between loving my black self and loving a smart, funny, confident, sexy, honest, strong and compassionate white man. It is because I love myself that I recognized that the quality of this man and the love we share are a crucial component of building the life that I want and deserve.
2. Don't you feel like you're betraying your ancestors?
To me, this question has never made anymore sense than asking "aren't you betraying all the women who've been raped and beaten by men when you date men?" I am a heterosexual woman and I am attracted to men--I don't somehow "honor" women who have been victimized by rapists, abusers and murderers by shunning good men who treat me well. In the same way, I do not somehow "honor" my black ancestors who suffered through slavery and discrimination by shunning good white people--and yes, they exist.
Additionally, this question is rooted in a mentality that views racism as an evil that is simply inflicted on blacks by whites. It does not acknowledge the role that black people can play in inflicting racist discrimination on each other--in particular, the way in which DBRBM openly denigrate, abuse, and discriminate against BW based on their race and sex. Would it be reasonable for me to judge all black men based on the discriminatory acts of DBRBM?
3. Can he really understand you?
Better than anyone ever has. Just as in any couple, we have differences as well as sharing commonalities. I personally could not be with a man who was not empathetic. I know that it is certainly possible for a white person to be in a relationship with a black person--perhaps even to "love" a black individual--while still being racist. I couldn't be with such a person, anymore than I could be with a BM who hated my skin, my hair, my features. I've never been with a man who has been through exactly what I have been through--that would be impossible. Luckily, a person doesn't have to have had your experiences to be able to relate to them, and to understand your struggles and triumphs.
4. Couldn't you find a black man?
Probably--but I didn't. I found this man, and instead of rejecting him in the hope that I might find a black Mr. Right someday, I decided to live my life for today. It has not been my experience that incredible people with whom you experience intense chemistry pass through your life on such a regular basis that walking away from makes sense. Life is short.
5. What if all of us started dating white? Wouldn't black people disappear?
Considering that black people in Africa and throughout the diaspora, significantly outnumber white people, it seems unlikely that interracial mating between blacks and whites could result in the disappearance of black people; if it could, we would have disappeared a long time ago, since miscegenation has been going on since the concept of "races" first evolved. It seems that the greater danger to the our community here is the growing numbers of BW who are living their lives entirely alone.
Obviously, there are usually no "right" answers to such questions for the people asking them because they oppose interracial relationships for BW, and perceive a danger in them that they don't perceive, say, in BW suffering in bad relationships with BM or no relationships at all. I don't think for a second that a sister owes an explanation to such people; but part of the purpose of questions like these, whether the person asking is conscious of such purpose or not, is to intimidate. Whether we choose to answer them or not, all that matters is that our responses reflect our own confidence in, and happiness with, our choices. Nothing will help "break more sisters out of jail" than seeing the joy and serenity that love and freedom brings to a well-lived life!
As a sidenote, everybody check out "More Black Women Consider 'Dating Out'"
http://abcnews.go.com/US/WireStory?id=3447674&page=2. Evia, Roslyn Holcomb, and the role of blogs in encouraging sisters to expand their options are all prominently featured!