The harsh reality of our interracial relationship

Again, this is an exert from my own life. Others may have had similar experiences, others this may be completely foreign. I always love to hear feedback, and if you have any questions, I am always happy to answer.

Growing up in Deptford, and going to a culturally diverse secondary school, mixed relationships were ‘normal’ to me. I don’t like the expression ‘I don’t see black or white’ because I don’t think it’s true. You DO see black and white (and others) and I believe that you should. Blanketing everyone as the same doesn’t benefit anyone, it’s important to learn the differences between people, culture, races and history, but to treat everyone with the same manner of respect.

When I was 14 or 15, I was asked by a boy in my class what my parents would say if I had a ‘black boyfriend’ I remember thinking it was a weird question, because what do you mean ‘what they would say?’ I was always raised with the ‘if they treat you well’ ethos, but I don’t actually think races of future partners had ever been a conversation around the dinner table. Another boy interjected the question with ‘my mum would kill me if I bought home a white girl’ and others agreed, male and female. Maybe some of this was truth, but at the time I dismissed it as a bit of a wind up.

A short while into our (Papa No + Ro & I’s) relationship, I had told my parents that I had a ‘boyfriend’ I didn’t bring him round for the whole ‘meet my partner’ situ, but they knew of him. However, his family were none the wiser. I questioned this, and wondered his intentions, I had conjured up a million reasons in my head as to why he hadn’t told them, and it drove me mad. I called time on us but Papa No + Ro was insistent that it wasn’t me, but he couldn’t quite explain what the fuck it was. Growing increasingly frustrated, I cornered him eight months in and demanded an explanation. It was then that it came out, ‘my dad doesn’t believe in the mixing of races’ and the mood was changed entirely. I asked an abundance of questions:

How? Why?

His best friends are white, do they know?

He’s raising his children in England, what does he expect?

What’s wrong with me being white?

Shortly after, I made the choice to stay. Knowing that I was choosing to be with someone who’s family may never want to know me, or our children/future children. Papa No + Ro, also made a choice. Much harder than mine. He risked losing his dad, jeopardising his relationship with his mum and siblings, for something that might not work out in the long run.

The inevitable day came, and he had to tell his dad, and he did, word for word, start to finish, everything. I remember saying just beforehand, “it will be okay, he will get over it, he has to”. The rest is not my story to tell, but it caused a lot of pain to everybody involved and it is not resolved and my words beforehand were incorrect.

During this time I thought a lot about the words the boy at school had said, I began to look at others in interracial relationships and wondered, did they have this too? Was it okay in the end? As time went on, I began to realise that this might not actually be okay in the end, and it’s something that we would have to work through. I felt (sometimes do still feel) tremendous guilt, this wouldn’t be so bad if I had left, but Papa No + Ro has always made it clear that it’s not my fault. But the feeling lingered, at times it was suffocating because it felt as if he only had me, and I panicked that I wasn’t enough.

We have had other challenges as a mixed race family. Names for children are hard, we never agree and although I loved some names suggested, I worried people would consider them names from the ‘black community’, and that using them would make me a ‘try hard’. How ridiculous is that?

We clashed on the role of parents to their children, the amount of respect a child should show a parent (he was in utter shock when he learned that we swore around our parents) and discipline, some of these differences are settled, others will continue for the rest of our lives – like it would for many that aren’t in mixed relationships.

Another issue we had early on was chicken. “Don’t you wash the chicken?” was a question asked with a grimace. Washing raw chicken? It had never even crossed my mind. Why on earth would I wash chicken? Surely that made you ill? But it’s something that is brought up now and we laugh about (I still don’t wash chicken, and actually as pescatarians for nearly a year, it’s not an issue anymore)

But religion was another thing we clashed on. I do not believe in God. I would never knock another for believing, and I sometimes consider there being a higher power, but it’s not necessarily the God that some choose to believe, I also think that I would rather not believe and I ponder about the lives of those that rely so heavily on God’s ultimate approval.

We trialled ‘grace’ at the table for a while. Rather than thanking God in particular, we thanked each other and spoke of things we were grateful for, sometimes Noah added God in, sometimes he didn’t. Papa No + Ro once or twice also expressed his interest in us all attending church, I said there would be no way I would go, but if he would like to take the boys then that is fine as I do agree that they should experience religion and it’s settings, but I don’t want them to be coerced into any faiths. These are small battles that we face in comparison to the much larger war we have ongoing with acceptance within one side of the family, but they are still things that cause small quarrels, debates and chats, I don’t regret my choice of partner but I do wonder, would it be different if we were of the same race? Do others in the same position clash on such minute things? In the dark days, I thought about some really strange shit. MAYBE, just maybe there was a reason people had an issue with the mixing of races. I think about that now and realise it’s barking mad, but when someone (and more than one) is so against something, it’s hard to not think that perhaps, you are doing something wrong.

Noah’s birthday card to me this year, I absolutely love it.

12 thoughts on “The harsh reality of our interracial relationship

  1. Great blog. It can’t be easy not getting on with the in laws. I’m 11 weeks into parenting and we’ve clashed on lots of issues – but it’s all about how you resolve them which it sounds like you’ve aced. And your kids are too gorgeous for words! parenting is a minefield nevermind adding in some of the other issues you’ve outlined. x

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    1. It most certainly hasn’t been easy! I know that we have a long road ahead of us, especially as the boys grow older and ask questions – but I’d like to they that they’ll understand we did our hardest to stay as a family unit.
      Congratulations on your new baby! Xx

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  2. Having been in an interracial family for ten years (crickey, it doesn’t feel that long), my experience is that we have had many differences in opinions, parenting styles, religious and political views however I believe these are because we are different people, from different upbringings, (possibly through not having strictly cultured upbringings but rather diverse in themselves).

    The only ‘outside’ issues that we’ve experienced as an interracial family is back in the early days (I’m sure it’s still there however we tend not to notice it ‘so much’ now), is the looks we’d get when out as a family (eldest is dual hertiage & second is white (both from our previous relationships)). We would presume people thought our second born was adopted or the result of an affair! We enjoyed a little ‘mind screw’ & got DH to call second born ‘Son’ & visa versa with “Dad”; the whispers then were hilarious and in all honesty helped to educate our boys!

    You say, when people say “I don’t see black or white”, I truly believe, that although I clearly knew my DH is ‘black’, it was his humour, passion & love of life that I fell in love with.
    I do remember feeling that I had to explain his skin colour to my parents before their first meeting however both my Mum & Dad made me feel somewhat silly after their “as long as he treats you well” response!

    Thank you for your blog; a very interesting read!

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    1. Of course I fell in love with him, it was nothing to do with his race, but I think it’s naïve to say that people don’t look at us and recognise that I am white and he is black. It will forever be visible. I think on a whole adopting the attitude of ‘not seeing skin colour’ is dangerous, because it means people can ignore the injustices that race can bring because they simply ‘don’t see it’

      Thank you for your feedback (and story!) , glad you found it interesting. X

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  3. I loved this. I am a year and a half into an interracial relationship that started rocky due to my boyfriends fear of telling his parents about having a white girlfriend. It has all worked out, but there still are disagreements. (He couldn’t believe I didn’t wash the chicken, he can’t believe I sometimes call my mom by her first name causally, he laughs at me not being beaten for minor things growing up, I don’t believe in God but, as you did, accept that when we have children, going to a black church will ground them.) I find the hardest thing is not fighting people who stare at us in public. Wishing you bunch good thoughts towards mending relationships, I can’t imagine how hard that must be.

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    1. I’m a little oblivious to the stares out in public. He notices them more than me, and sometimes I wonder if that’s just paranoia. There was once a National Express driver who expressed his disgust with dodgy looks, when he hugged me to say good bye! Thanks very much, wish you guys the best x

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  4. Just came across this now my Bf and father to our daughter brought up washing chicken and still have lots of disagreements on how he was brought up doing things vs how I do things, religion is a big on going debate I use to bring my daughter to church because he wanted me to but like you my views are different and I just got fed up of going I told him he could bring our daughter if he wanted but i wasnt going anymore, being in a interracial relationship is hard to me it’s two different worlds coming together , i for one think there will always be disagreements with cultural differences, like you I’m more chilled around my family and say what ever to each other and he was shocked that I spoke to my mum and nan like i would my friends, I am expected to great his mum “good afternoon ma ” if not you will hear about it at first I wouldn’t do it as I’m very shy it wasn’t the norm for me, I thibk there’s a lot expected from the person who isn’t as cultured to do it there way and there’s no respect for your own culture or way of doing things, I love my partner and his family but it is really hard I do think like you would it be like this if he was white ? I have friends who have black partners with kids and they all say the same things. It was nice reading this knowing i wasn’t the only one arguing over washing chicken hahaha i don’t think it gets easier I think there will always be disagreements about culture and background and parenting and just about day to day things but you get over it and move on.

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