We’ve all heard the phrase “I don’t usually date Black people” … Whether this has been spoken directly to you, or you have heard it spoken in reference to another. It is a detrimental phrase which devalues one’s’ self-perception and social position as a person of colour within romantic discourse.The Black Body is one of the most appropriated images in social and cultural history, and unfortunately, the Black body as a ‘type’ remains victim to Eurocentric ideals.
Those who allow this close-minded construction to obstruct their choices limits them to the thriving possibilities of interracial relationships. While the social stigma and general anxiety about such couplings has improved throughout the ages, problems of fetishisation also arise within interracial relationships.
If you, or someone you know has ever been in an interracial relationship, I urge thee to ask them one simple question…
“What happened when they/you entered a white space together?”
Thinking back to my personal experience of Interracial relationships, your presence immediately becomes an exotic symbol of interest. The double takes raises concerns about whether they are from genuine intrigue or similarly sinister opinions. However, my own experiences within interracial relationships of the amounting damage of micro-aggressions supersedes public experiences.
In my short and hectic chain of romantic relationships, this private space has become its own microcosm of racial anxiety. Micro-aggressive language from a partner takes on a double form of pain; problematic words, opinions and actions materialise in a space where I yearn to be free. I bring to mind one of my first boyfriends at the ripe age of sixteen. The pinnacle of everyone’s romantic journey, initiating an age of exploration of the body and relationships.
Yet what I didn’t realise at the time was how this relationship foreshadowed my future experience of race in the context of love. I naively thought that romance could flourish separate from society. Yet one comes to the unfortunate realisation that even in this hopeful space you are still defined by your race… This is signified by the five simple words spoken by my first boyfriend during the throngs of romantic embrace: “Wow… my first Black breast.”
I was reduced to an exotic goal, a sexually diverse achievement in this person’s little black book. How could this person to whom I felt so close to, a closeness I had not yet experienced, boil me down to my skin colour and gender?
When a person of colour embarks upon the dating scene, it is a pitiful truth that their bodies symbolise more than sexual desire, oftentimes they truly are this goal/ experiment. However, they are not always aware of this fact themselves, which makes the attempt to disembark micro-aggressions all the more painful.
Take for example the public space of a nightclub, the ‘stereotypically categorised Black behind’ becomes a beacon of light within the sweaty-watering-hole-dance-floor. If one possesses said feature it becomes an antagonising reality that, for reasons rooted in the history of racial discourse, they’re viewed as exotic beings.
Being groped in a nightclub is an atrocious act of indecency for anybody regardless of race. When the culprit says (as has been said to me) “Girl you have a fine Black ass,” it becomes much more of an attack on your self-perception. Somehow the public nature of this micro-aggression enables one to feel more confident in professing your anger, the stranger is meaningless to you and therefore you have no qualms about confronting them.
The private space holds more of a threat; superadded to the pressure of relationships, the pressure of confronting your partners’ microaggressions is far more difficult. While the drunk and aggravating predator will probably just walk away and forget the whole affair ever happened, tensions can arise within your relationship from a fear that the other will not understand your pain. The temptation to overlook such things is all too desirable.
Jibes about hair and how they love the texture and find it SO interesting is to them mere intrigue. When you endure this on a weekly basis, you don’t need it from a partner. The nature of micro-aggressive language if oftentimes compared to insect bites; every time someone touches your hair, or asks where “you’re really from” or calls you exotic is comparable to a bite. Nagging at your skin until the last bite causes you to react, scratching and aggravated at the bites until you explode at the final aggression.
Even though your partner views their admiration of your features as harmless and loving, you nonetheless are frustrated with society’s constant categorisation of you as ‘The Other’. You are still pinpointed as a minority within the pairing, and these pressures amount to no end. You always wonder if you are merely their ‘first Black breast’.
It is an unfortunate experience of minorities in interracial relationships that you think your relationship is free from societies racially focused nature. If every other aspect of your partner is your true ideal, then can one overlook their sparse but hurtful words or actions? This question has plagued me and others, and unfortunately in our Eurocentric Society Microaggressions have become almost an everyday experience.
However, one would hope that in my next relationship I stand my ground. Communicate the dangers of fetishisation and hope they understand. I wish I could go back to myself age sixteen and shake me naïve self proclaiming not to take such jibes as light-hearted jokes. For when you’re a person of colour, spaces where your colour is irrelevant are cherished. One would hope that interracial relationships can become another safe haven.