Shades of Love

My experience in an interracial relationship-

I am Black. My girlfriend is Salvadoran. We’ve been together for about one year and eight months. There have been plenty of fights, make-ups, lonely nights, and silent treatments, but I can honestly say that having her in my life has been (and continues to be) extremely rewarding. I can’t think of another relationship or instance in my life that has fostered the same amount of growth that my relationship has. Alright, enough of the mushy sentiments, let’s get down to business. We are different. I believe that our differences greatly impact our relationship. I know that our love has helped us to navigate through those differences, and appreciate our uniqueness.  In this post I will touch on a few things that have helped us to get over the obstacles we have faced in our relationship.

1. Having a strong relationship

This is by far the most important factor in my relationship. When I listen to friends talk about Black love and how important it is, I can easily talk my love with the same zeal. Should I be ashamed of dating outside of my race? Not at all. The strength of my relationship has  also helped me to overcome the fears and doubts concerning what her family may have thought about me. I was nervous meeting her family on that Christmas Eve, but I knew that this was an important step in developing our future together. So I manned up and hug/shook hands, danced, and sang all night to show her family that I care about my girlfriend and all that she brings to the table. We have not experienced any overt racism or friction from anyone as of yet, and for that I am thankful. I know that there are biracial couples who have it ten times worse than us. I am sure that they would agree with me that a strong relationship is what allows them to endure the hate while continuing to grow together.

2. Appreciating her culture

Being exposed to Salvadoran-American culture has been one of the most exciting parts of my relationship. I am always learning new things from both her and her family. All of the new tastes, sounds, smells, and movements bring me great joy. I know that if I did not appreciate her culture, our relationship would not have grown. To deny her culture is to deny her very being. My openness to her traditions and customs has fortified our relationship. It has allowed her to share something that she holds very close to her heart, and for that I am grateful.

3. Recognizing differences while breaking down stereotypes

I was originally going to use “ignoring stereotypes” but that would have been an injustice. I know that I can always go to her to find out what is real, despite what I may see on TV or hear on the radio. She paints vivid pictures of her homeland and her people. The truths she reveals to me, help me to unlearn any stereotypes I may have picked up from mass media. With that knowledge I can spread it to others who may believe said stereotypes. She learns from  me about my culture and as do I from her. Our relationship is built on abolishing racism! Not really we just happen to love each other.  That being said, we are different. Some of my traditions are foreign to her and vice versa. For example, I can remember a sense of sincere puzzlement at the way she washed dishes (my canned response being ‘Mom does it this way’). Yes that was a joke, and yes you may laugh. Her speech and mannerisms took some getting used to as well. Getting used to her style of communication was/is particularly difficult at times, but I did/do not fault her for her ways of communicating. It is a part of who she is. Realizing that her differences make her who she is, has really helped me grow in our relationship.

4. Communicating

We always share our feelings, ideas, goals, fears, and experiences with each other. She tends to do the lion’s share of feeling sharing :P. Communication is the heart of the relationship. If we were not genuine about our communication, I don’t know where we would be! We are different people, and it takes communication to overcome many of those differences. Before thinking about her race, I have to try to understand her wants/needs/feelings as a woman. Being a 22 year old man, I have not picked up on all of the subtleties of womanhood, so I ask her about them to get a better understanding of who she is. Our willingness to talk things out has, and will continue to, be a pillar of our relationship.

I love being in an interracial relationship. We are maneuvering through life’s many trials together. She has her experiences and traditions, as do I. I learn about myself the more I learn about her. Though we may appear more different than most couples, our love is just as strong as any others’. I love her, and she loves me. Our relationship is not perfect. We have plenty of flaws, but I appreciate her for who she is. For her, that has been enough.

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