Interracial Stares


Let me say, this piece of writing isn’t mine. I just wanted to share it because it’s worthy, and the author deserves major credit.


I’m Sorry For Staring At You, Interracial Couple
By  Stephanie Georgopulos

I’m sorry for staring at you, interracial couple.

I know you must get that a lot, and on good days you probably let it slide.  You think, “We’re happy and that’s all that matters,” you think, “Some people  are just ignorant, but that’s not our problem.” But on bad days, during trips to  particularly backwards towns or visits with whichever one of your families is  more, um… traditional, it probably grates a bit. I mean, the staring, it’s  probably the least of your worries until you’ve had a terrible day and it’s the  last goddamn thing you want: the judgment of a stranger, that is.

But I stare at you for a different reason, I thought I should write and let  you know. I stare at you because about 30 years ago, my parents did the same  thing you’re doing. They held hands in public, they got the stares, they’ve  probably sat through conversations about black women stealing the good white men  and white men stealing the good black women, they’ve heard it all, I bet. And  then they had me, and they heard some more of it, this little white baby with  her black mother — is that her nanny?

My mom likes to tell this story. She took me to a flea market one day and  when it was time to leave, I refused. She took my hand and I began to repeat — shout, really, “You’re not my mother!” And the reason I said that was because we  had just read the Phillip D. Eastman book, “Are You My Mother?” in Kindergarten,  and I liked the book I guess, and I obviously had no idea this would implicate a  black woman in stealing a white baby from a flea market. My mom laughs when she  tells this story now, but I wonder how she felt that day, while it was  happening. People were definitely staring then.

I want to tell you I stare at you because I’m happy to see you, multiplying  in numbers as you walk through my city. Because you’re doing something for love  (or prospective love) that can be painful and alienating. I know the stares are  the most passive of it; sometimes there are comments. Even if you’ve sat down  and explained your relationship to the people who care about you — who don’t  understand why maybe you can’t just find a perfectly nice person to love who  happens to have the same skin color as yours — even if those people grudgingly  accept your choices, there are the comments. They come from the members of your  supposed community; people questioning your motives when the motive is simply to  be with someone you care about. They make you feel like you’re a traitor to your  race (guess what? You’re an individual, and you get to choose how much or how  little race defines you. What has your race — a classification system heaved  onto us — done for you lately?). I stare at you because I admire your  acknowledgement of your individualism, of your decision to make the choice you  wanted to make and not the one your family, community, television, society has  been telling you to make since you were conscious.

I stare especially when you have kids because they’re gorgeous, because  they’re lucky to experience more than one culture from birth and I know that  first-hand, because they’re going to have many more mixed friends to relate to  than I ever did as a child and that makes me happy for them. I had a lot of  Hispanic friends during my formative years, people with a deep culture they were  raised to be proud of, while I had… confusion. Identity crises. I hope your  mixed kids can team up with the other mixed kids I’ve been staring at and figure  out what the future of our culture looks like.

There’s nothing wrong with dating within your own race, of course. It’s just  that… there’s nothing wrong with dating out of it, either. Even though  I’m white by all appearances, every guy who’s dated me has dated out of their  race. Ask them if they noticed the difference. We didn’t date because they  wanted to unlock some Mixed Girl badge on Foursquare — we dated because they  liked me and I liked them. What you’re doing, when you choose to be with the  person you want to be with and not the person it’s easiest to be with, is  setting an example for people who limit themselves out of fear, who don’t want  to break the news to mom and dad, who feel that their desires are delegitimized  by what everyone around them seems to want. It’s not your responsibility, and  your relationship was not formed so that you could be the poster child for mixed  relationships, but who doesn’t want to inspire people to love who they want to  love?

So when you have a bad day, when it seems like your relationship has become  the entire world’s business, when your Indian mother tries to set you up with  her best friend’s son even though you’ve been in a relationship with a white  dude for the last three years, when someone insists that you’ve betrayed your  race as though your race has never betrayed you, when you’re alone with your  child who has darker skin or straighter hair than you and someone stares, just  imagine that they’re staring because they’re rooting for complicated, colorful  love. Imagine that they’re rooting for you. I certainly am. TC mark


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One thought on “Interracial Stares

  1. Pingback: Best of 2012 | Integrated Memoirs

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