By Nathaniel E. Hocker on October 27, 2020
I turned 34, just two months and twenty seven days ago, yet I am reminded of the fact that, I still can’t win . . .
The relationship between my partner and I is an ongoing challenge, but a challenge we accepted 14 years ago, to be exact. Why? . . . I am Black, and he, White. It’s 2020 and our country (United States) is still thriving on racism and the unacceptance of a few – we’re a gay couple – get over it!
Love is not a choice, yet the ignorant subjugation of love by means of hate, even religious means, are a constant battle for many of us. To simply walk down the streets of our city (pre-COVID-19), my partner and I, is a riveting experience. The stares and subliminal or anti-black racial jabs commented to us from uneducated people, hurt. I can recall a recent test-drive experience in which, we both arrived at the dealership, I being the interested new car buyer, and Chad there for support. We were treated differently, to say the least. Chad was greeted first, and me, not at all. Chad was asked new car interest questions, I was not. Chad was offered information on select new models, I was not. I was the one buying, Chad was not, though, he has a say whenever either one/together make large or expensive purchases. Long story short, Chad took notice of this treatment upon me not being greeted or spoken to. Chad spoke up quite firmly: “You do realize that my partner, Nathan, is the one here who has purchase interest, right? It is not me.” Shocked? “Racism doesn’t exist!”, some say . . .
I wasn’t led by love to a white man. I was led by love to a decent human named: Chad, who just so happens to be white. Aside from his anatomical features, his skin color, his sass and intelligence, I was hooked! I still am . . . (cue the awwws). We have our ups and our downs, our arguments, our craziness; we share it all. That’s what any couple does, gay, bi and straight, black and white, Latinx and Asian. We’re human! Race, in all its manufacturing, has nothing to do with the love we continue to find in one another, my partner and I. Our focus then, as it is now, is that we love one another in spite of rejection around us!
I wasn’t led by love to a white man. I was led by love to a decent human named: Chad, who just so happens to be white.
In the 1950’s, and almost anywhere in America, I would’ve been beaten or killed for being with a white person, vice versa in Chad’s case. It would’ve been impossible. It was a crime at this time to be in an interracial relationship, in several states in America. “In fact, it wasn’t until 1967, where the famous case of: Loving v. Virginia, in which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws banning interracial marriages. Today, about 12% of American couples are interracially married” (David Ludden, Ph.D., “How Racial Minorities View Interracial Couples”, March 30, 2020.). Chad and I would’ve been “in the closet” (pun intended), and saw each other on the “down low”. A high percentage of death would’ve favored us both . . . “A negro with a white person; grab the nooses and pitchforks!” For myself, being both gay and of color, and with a white man, is a challenge all its own. We often educate one another on cultural differences, some shared; from food, clothing styles, vehicles, ceremonies and rituals. We have a ‘gay old’ time with our respective cultures, all the while celebrating them too. That’s love. This is also how we grow mentally, spiritually, and become better educated on being anti-racist. This is also the experience necessary toward anti-racism, that any book can’t put into action. What is more, we’ve learned to tolerate what we find annoying within our respective cultures. And what may seem annoying to us, is that which makes us, each one, unique. If only the world around us had their eyes as wide open as ours are.
Chad’s ex-partner was black, mind you, and the relationship was volatile. My ex-partner was white; the relationship was also volatile. His former partner passed on from AIDS, and cheated on him constantly. As most would, Chad wanted an actual partner – one who loves only him, and not he and a few other ‘good men’ at the same time. I, on the other hand, was young, dumb, and perhaps naive. My lack of patience and immediate need for companionship at the time, were causes that led me to jump in quickly without checking the temperature of the water. I was burned, but I also didn’t contribute much to the relationship after having given up quickly into the early stages – for reasons I won’t discuss. Ultimately, I lived a Cinder-fella fiction, mentally, who’s relationship didn’t end happily in reality.
Love has a way of leading our hearts into what, even to who, is often unexpected. Love doesn’t reveal the details, instead, it offers our hearts a journey. It’s up to us to accept it. Love is not defined by skin color, nor does it promise us that any relationship will be ‘perfect’. Newsflash: There’s not only no such thing as perfection in a relationship, but ethnicity has nothing to do with love. Biblical scripture describes it beautifully: “4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Cor. 13:4-7 NIV Translation). I trust that the love I accepted then (Chad), loves me still today. And because love is colorful, I have allowed myself to become its paintbrush.
So Many Questions
Why is it then, that being in an interracial relationship is challenging? It’s challenging for many reasons, to name several:
- We currently have acting leaders in the highest offices in our nation (USA) promoting racism over diversity, and as a result, we are witnessing within the camps that support their toxic ideologies, a rise in white supremacy. This largely affects those of us who are in interracial partnerships because the idea of “race-mixing”, is still unaccepted within certain societies – in 2020 – in America.
- Now known statistics from multiple sources have shown that, the current minority will become the future majority by the year 2044 – plus or minus. This has lead to a rise in ‘fear of the unknown’ for white Americans in particular (the ethnic group who has always been “in charge”); continued fear of other ethnic groups in general, a rise in BIPOC hate groups, an increase in racial violence – including death – against BIPOC Americans, and a continued rise in public displays of racial discrimination.
- Because of the increase in racial violence across the U.S., my partner fears for my safety when I am away from home for any length of time. The stress induced on Chad is immense and should not be an issue, but is. I, too, have increased fears of racial violence towards myself or any of my family members. This is something becoming more and more common due to the current state of our country (U.S.).
- When out together (pre-COVID-19), my partner tends to notice particular “treatments” in how we are addressed or served. For example: I might be served with attitude from a white waiter/ress when asked what I would like to order, and Chad, flirted with prior to giving his. It is almost never a 50/50 output of treatment from the public at large.
- Though Chad is innately privileged – something I will never have – he recognizes that, and knows when things work in his favor versus our favor. This is important for the white counterpart of this relationship type to understand, as the other is often treated differently.
Do Chad and I simply give up? Do we simply throw in the 14 year towel? Do we submit to un-affirming people, who otherwise lack education and heart? Do I allow Chad’s privilege to be a barrier to our advancement in life? Not quite . . . If we allowed any one of these things to weaken us over time, in public, from family – we’d most likely be separated! We are tired of racism and bigotry, hate and jealousy, but we have to stay strong in order to encounter the next fireball. It will come again, and again, and again; that’s a promise. Our relationship with one another is too strong to break, and worth too much for us to ever allow it to be destroyed by outside interference.
We are tired of racism and bigotry, hate and jealousy, but we have to stay strong in order to encounter the next fireball.
The jungle is often feared itself, though we traverse it anyway. What we bring to mine through it, is often what determines if making it through, is even a possibility. The jungle is dark, it’s damp, it’s loud – like life, huh? In fact, it bears both life and death. It thrives on the smallest rays of light that shine through a dense canopy of trees above. The jungle describes ‘our’ relationship: As we continue to build together, we also understand that those constructions become part of the fabric of our future. The caveat to love, like the jungle; it’s too vast to destroy. Even set ablaze by fire, it always returns stronger, taller, and wilder than before.
As we continue to build together, we also understand that those constructions become part of the fabric of our future.
I am both awakened to, and enlightened by, what Chad and I share. This kind of love can’t be bought, moreover, can’t be destroyed by those who try and subdue what was already written in the stars. Frankly, if ‘color’ is the true path for their darts, I’m the bullseye. To have a white partner increases the amount of darts thrown, mind you. To some, it is often said of our relationship: “It isn’t right” or “Coloreds shouldn’t mix with whites“. I think what’s really meant is: “We want it the way it used to be.” Translation: The ethno-centric society might satisfy those who are opposed to the swirl of it all . . . Nonetheless, race mixing prevails, as my relationship is a testament to the persistence of “swirling”.
Human beings have an incredible capacity, to learn, to grow, to evolve. I think it’s time we let go of what’s holding us down – fear of the unknown – versus what could propel us into greater possibilities, acceptance. Not all people see it this way, sadly. And it’s because of the limited application of thought, via misguided education or the lack thereof, that continues to hurt society as a whole. We, as that society, have the power to transform this young nation (U.S.) into something worth the living in safely – for ALL.