If you are in an IRR (inter-”racial” relationship) you probably know that the majority of people you encounter do not care about your relationship. They have their own lives and problems, and you are not even a blip on their screen. In fact, most of the time, you will merely be observed with the intensity of someone under CIA surveillance. Unfortunately, the minority, who do take issue with you living your life in a way that does not benefit them directly or makes them feel some kind of way, will be obnoxiously vocal about it. These people can be strangers, friends and even your own relatives. Regardless of your familiarity with such people, there are only three ways I recommend dealing with them.
#1 – Ignore them. This is the best approach when dealing with strangers. They don’t know you, you don’t know them, neither of you owe each other anything other than the common courtesy and civility one should extend to anyone, whether they know them or not, and they have broken their end of the bargain by behaving a fool. To quote William O. Douglas,
“The right to be let alone is the beginning of all freedoms.”
If someone is unwilling to acknowledge that simple and obvious right – to simply be left alone – they deserve to be ignored, and worse. Though, I must admit, I have on a few occasions broken this rule with strangers. Not long ago a BW tried to draw me into a loud, public confrontation in a Walmart super store. I didn’t fall for it, but the harassment went on for so long that I felt I needed to speak, to get rid of this very persistent gnat of a Human being. I described the encounter here.
Despite that slip up on my part, my husband remained silent but protective. He later chided me for breaking our rule, but admitted that he was glad she “took her crazy elsewhere”. BTW, he has also broken the rule with strangers. But only with lone men.
#2 – Laugh. Find the humor in their false interest in your life. Years ago, someone I barely knew asked me why I wasn’t dating a “brotha” and I responded by saying “Because I never learned how to play the banjo.” That person didn’t get the hillbilly reference, but it made me and my actual brother laugh pretty hard at the time, and that’s all that matters. Sometimes, you really do need to laugh, especially with your partner. When you think about the intent behind all of the looks, the questions and especially the comments it is all so foolish. If you have a sense of humor, you can’t help but laugh at how intensely stupid Human beings can be.
#3 – Answer their questions with questions. This is a great method for dealing with friends, family and acquaintances. They will usually attack your choices by questioning “why you need to” date someone who does not look like them, or someone who doesn’t look like you (in the case of non-Blacks). Basically, why are you not choosing who they think you should be with? They want to make your life about them and what THEY think or want a Black woman’s life to be like.
You’ll get asked some really idiotic questions – designed to make you defensive about your choice, as well as some simple ones that you may feel the need to answer in a straight forward manner. Don’t. You’ll just encourage them to be even more invasive and disrespectful in the future. Besides, there is nothing that you can say that will satisfy the reason why they felt it necessary to question how and with whom you choose to live your life. When you think about it, it’s pretty nervy to ask someone such questions. And only someone who has very little respect for you or who senses that you feel guilty for “dating out” would ask such demeaning questions. I speak from experience.
The typical questions Black women in IRR are asked are ‘why aren’t you with a Black man?’ questions. Every other question is merely a variation on that same theme. The two questions I have gotten most in the past year (since my wedding) are “Do you think [non-BM] are better than BM?” and “Why didn’t you marry a Black man?” These questions were posed mostly by acquaintances. These are the questions you can expect to hear most if your IRR gets serious.
I know some women find it hard to respond to questions of that nature with questions, so I’ll give you a head-start. I have made a list of questions that I have been asked with answers that I have given. Usually, these answers shut the asker down, not because they are so profound but simply because they realized that I don’t give two sh*ts about their approval. Apparently, people respect that.
Question & Response Examples:
Do you think [non-BM] are better than BM?
- Do YOU think non-BM are better than BM?
- Do you think non-BW are better than BW? Is that why you assume I feel the same way about [non-BM]?
Why didn’t you marry a Black man?
- Why do you care? Do you get a commission whenever two Black people get married?
- Are you planning to move into our home? Because unless you are, you will NEVER have to live under the same roof as my White husband.
- Why didn’t you marry a Black woman?
There are a lot of good Black men out there. Why couldn’t you marry one of them?
- Why didn’t you? You’re still single, right?
- What are their names and numbers? We could start a matchmaking service.
Did you marry a [non-Black] man so your kids would look [non-Black]?
- Did you knock up three different [non-Black] women so that your kids would look [non-Black]?
- Do you believe a wedding ring is a magical device that can control what my future children will look like?
- Why do you care what my yet to be conceived children will look like?
And back in the old days…
Why don’t you ever date Black guys?
- Why don’t you ever date White guys?
- Why do you care more about my personal life than my own mother? Is there something you want to tell me?
- That’s an interesting question. I was wondering the same thing about you.
- Are you in love with me? If you’re not, it’s really weird that you care who I date.
This is just a small sampling of the ridiculous questions I have been asked. It’s good to be prepared for these inevitable moments, so that you are not caught off guard and flustered. If you are flustered, you may be tempted to respond to their foolish questions as though they were worthy of an answer.
You’re probably thinking, Why shouldn’t I explain how I just happened to meet and fall in love with my non-Black BF/husband, and that it is not an attack on Black men everywhere? Here’s why: THEY DO NOT CARE! It’s not about him or you, it’s about them. It’s about their social agendas, self-esteem issues, internalized racism, externalized racism, etcetera. This being the case, why waste your time and energy “explaining” what they should have already surmised on their own? It’s common sense. Only someone who has never been in love would need an “explanation” of why a man and woman of the same species became attracted to one another, formed an attachment, fell in love and decided to share a life together. THAT is Human nature. Anyone who needs it explained is a moron.
One more thing…
You need to discuss the issue of IRR harassment with you partner early on in your relationship, especially if this is a first IRR for both of you. It won’t be hard to broach the subject, because someone is bound to get out of pocket with you and your guy within a few weeks of your spending time together publicly as a couple. And it’s important to agree on a plan of action. Not so much for words flung your way, but the very real threat of violence.
Every situation is different, and while most harassers do not pose a physical threat some do. You need to be mentally prepared to take action, if necessary. This is especially true for BW who feel guilty about being happily partnered with a non-BM. If you have already agreed that the police will be called if your lives are threatened, then you will simply do it when the time comes. I know someone who was followed and menaced by a group of young BM and didn’t want her (now) husband to call the police because she felt guilty about the large number of BM already incarcerated in America. I think her concern, considering what happened and what could have happened, is beyond ridiculous, yet I understand the indoctrination that led to her feeling conflicted about protecting her own best interests and life.
If you feel that a situation is becoming dangerous, don’t be shy about calling the police. The police are a resource that we all pay taxes to finance, and far too many BW are hesitant to use this vital resource, for fear of incarcerating someone who would just as soon see them dead as alive, simply because that person happens to be Black. That’s one hell of a “Black pass” and it needs to stop!