Let’s start by saying, I am in a warm, loving, soul-satisfying interracial relationship with one of the greatest men I have ever known. But when it started (5 years ago), I had questions. I vividly remember cruising online blogs for information to validate all that I was feeling at the time. I heard from a lot of people who either had been married a long time or had some ax to grind in favor or against it but no one spoke to how I was feeling.
I wanted to know how they navigated the start of it. I had casually dated interracially before but this time it was different. Our relationship felt like home – I was thinking about kids, families and our day-to-day lives in this America. Because I had those feelings and questions then, now I want to answer them for someone else.
Where did you meet? We met online… OKCupid.com, to be exact. I had been single for over a year at the time. After being in a long-term relationship since college, I was on a quest to figure out my own ish… “doing the work“, as Iyanla would say. I had started online dating not too long before I met my now, hubster. One day I got a message and messaged back… a week later, we had a drink. After the drink, I was intrigued and here we are. 🙂
How did I feel when it all started? Like any other new relationship, I was excited and scared but what I feared was different this time. Any girl dating after 28 will tell you, you start to wonder if the guy you are dating is “forever bae” as soon as it’s serious. And in this situation, I had to completely recast the vision of what my kids would look like and the things I wanted to tell my daughter about her coiled hair, dark skin, and full lips. I now know that those things don’t change but for a moment I wondered about it. I marveled at the differences in culture, I mean… He didn’t know SWV and 90’s R&B is an American treasure but I had never seen a Star Wars movie so… we both had our things.
How did I talk about it with friends and family? I didn’t for a while just because I wanted to be sure before I pulled them into it, more so because I was 30ish and they didn’t need to meet anymore “friends”. But I also had no idea what the response would be. My mom is a Black American, raised in Mobile, Alabama. My father is a Nigerian expat who just does not like anyone. But I eventually told them or maybe I just let them find out because… that’s an awkward announcement. My dad didn’t care, my mother asked a few problematic questions about my intentions and my siblings well … they have come to accept that I am going to march to my own beat. In all, no blow ups and no one cared. By the end, everybody likes everybody.
How did his family feel about me? Great, I was really scared of this because I had heard the stories from friends in similar relationships where, parents were refusing to come to weddings, accept grandkids or just being super racists. But in my case, it’s been nothing but bliss. I got REALLY lucky as far as in-laws are concerned. Race aside, I actually like them all as people apart from the relationship. #BLESSED
Did I encounter any notable experiences in public? Well, I live in Atlanta (ITP). It’s a city of diversity that actually mixes and no one seems to care. I will say it has worked in our favor a couple times from black women who just seemed to like us together and granted us extra pours after cut off at bottomless brunch. But nothing bad has happened – no “hotep” confrontations on the street.
How has the relationship changed me? I went through a little internal transformation of how I saw myself. I started to think about my kids and the questions they may have about their heritage, so I have made it my business to learn more about not just being Black American, but Nigerian too. This transformation was coming anyway but it’s like being thrown up against a white wall – you are forced to find yourself and get grounded. Bottom line, I am blacker, “womaner” and firm in my truth.
I think when you both look alike, you assume you feel the same way on issues. But in our case, we are having the hard conversations and listening to each other – we agree sometimes and table it other times.
At this point, it’s like any other relationship. We are still having those conversations and still incredibly in love. We have learned a lot from each other but I am still working on him knowing more R&B and he is trying to convince me that U2 is the greatest band ever.
Finding a lasting connection with anyone is hard so my biggest lesson to anyone is to just leave the door open. Put your focus on finding a person with good character, values, and overall good vibes. All the other stuff doesn’t matter.
If you are lucky enough to be on the cusp of a love of any kind of love… swirl, black love, brown love, Gay love… whatever, dive in and hang on. In the end, people are really just people.