Family Conflict Over Interracial Dating

I’m having trouble with my mother and the whole interracial thing. =/ It’s one of those things where we both know who I choose to date but we don’t speak of them. LOL. I’ve come a far way along with […]

guitarwoman I’m having trouble with my mother and the whole interracial thing. =/ It’s one of those things where we both know who I choose to date but we don’t speak of them. LOL. I’ve come a far way along with accepting me for me….growing up I was always the odd child, even then I knew that I loved men of a different race. This has always semi peeved my mom, which I never understood cause it wasn’t a question to me, or something i flaunted. My mother has always made small remarks here and there. Sometimes she will get an all-black magazine like Essence and ask me to choose which guy I think is cute. I know what little game she’s playing LOL. The most recent comments she made to me was a couple months ago while i was on the computer out of the clear blue sky: “So are you ever going to give a black man a chance??” I just turned around and asked her why is she asking?? and just said “I don’t know” (Clearly I do know). I use to try to make myself be with a black man to make my mom happy hahaha. Years later, I realized that I need to live for me, not for her and her insecurities. But now i don’t want to feel like I cant talk to her about the men I date. ‘Cause I’m just me and I can’t change that. I guess what i want to ask is…how do I stop this cycle??? I’m just tired and fed up with her not accepting me for who I am completely. Do I really need her acceptance? I truly believe you are your own person for a REASON and if it isn’t murder or hate you shouldn’t question it. I just want to be left alone with my dating preferences…did you go through this once??? i just dont understand why race is SUCH a big deal when it comes to dating. And yes…she’s A LOT like Jill Scott. Thank you for taking time to hear me out it means a lot. ~ML

Dear M.L.,

Thanks for trusting me with your experience. It can be difficult and frustrating when someone you’re close to and care about doesn’t seem to understand you or won’t fully accept you for who you are, and instead tries to change you into who they want you to be. I understand how you feel: one of the things that has always bothered me most is when someone won’t accept me and tries to force me to be someone I’m not, because I take such pride in who I am as a person.

I’m not exactly sure what your mother’s motives are for trying to push you to be with black men only. It seems you suspect or that she’s told you that, like Jill Scott, she believes black women should die alone before casting their eyes on a man who isn’t black.

I suggest you sit and have a discussion with her, and ask her why she’s doing this. You can allow her to express her thoughts and feelings first without interruption or judgment. If she asks you about your interest in white men, you can just tell her how you feel.

When she’s done, share your side of things. It’s important that you sound firm and sure of yourself and what you want, but try not to sound accusatory. Keep your focus on how you feel rather than what she’s doing. Let her know you’ve accepted your attractions, you don’t expect them to change, and when you follow your heart and date the guys you prefer, that makes you happy. Say that the silent battle that has been going on between the two of you is stressful and frustrating and is putting a strain on your relationship. Tell her it hurts that she’s refusing to accept a part of who you are (your attractions), and you’d like the relationship between the two of you to be ok – but that she must allow you to seek your own happiness.

Even if your mother has trouble accepting it now, most likely when you do meet the man you decide to marry and she sees how happy you are, she will forget her reservations and be happy for YOU. Once her first grandkid comes along, she’ll probably forget she ever had reservations to begin with. This is the way it tends to work out with those I’ve known who have this experience.

Desktop192If you choose to ignore your own needs and desires and live your life trying to please others, you’ll never truly be happy. What you have to understand is that you’re the one who has to live with your choices. Parents don’t stay on this earth forever, friends come and go, we see strangers for only a passing moment…and at the end of our lives, we will have only ourselves. We’ve either chosen to follow our hearts and live a fulfilling life – or we’ve chosen to be fearful and conform to others’ hopes, dreams, morals, expectations and rules for our lives, and leave this world full of regrets, wondering what could have and would have been, if only.

With one single exception, my immediate and extended family don’t really have trouble with the concept of interracial relationships. My parents have never told me to date or not date people of one color or the next, though my father told his children when we were much younger that he thought it would be hard in this country. The things my parents found most important were that a partner had the same spiritual beliefs they do, had a good character and solid morals, were respectful and treated me well, hardworking and able to provide, educated, as motivated to succeed as they taught me to be, etc.

The single exception I referred to is a close family member who changed drastically after a series of negative experiences with biased Jewish professors at his university drove him, traumatized, into the arms of an Afrocentric, Black Nationalist group on campus. I once looked up to him; he graduated from High School with every grade above 98% out of 100%, and went on to a nice Ivy League University. Unfortunately, he let his experiences destroy him from the inside out. He’s angry, miserable – a shell of his former self. Despite all the past promise, he won’t get far in his dream career. It’s as if the person I grew up with is dead, and a complete stranger has taken his place.

Sometimes, a person’s issues may run far deeper than just reservations about a relationship. Often, an unhealthy, negative, self-defeating mentality and worldview tends to accompany it. If that is the case, it’s highly unlikely that anything you say can penetrate this sort of mentality. Also, if someone is more attached to his or her sociopolitical agenda than to you, your happiness, and his or her family bond with you, that is a choice he or she has made and that you can only accept. If they don’t care enough to genuinely and deeply want what’s best for you, you may actually be better off without them, even if it hurts. It especially won’t be healthy for your future children to have someone in their lives who feels very bitter, hopeless, negative and angry. It’s not the type of mentality you’ll want rubbing off on them, since it will limit their chances of happiness and success. Also, by no means are biracial children “naturally” confused (race doesn’t exist in nature, so there’s no natural need or instinct to identify with “races”), but some most likely will become confused and damaged if exposed at young ages to relatives who should love them but instead seem to hate or feel anger over a part of who the child is and the relationship that brought the child into this world. If you think you have a relative like that, it’s best to supervise your children when around him or her, or to not allow that person access to your children at all.

About Velour

I am a young woman who's Caribbean by heritage and American by birth. I'm married to a white man, whom I met during my teens. We've been together for nearly a decade. I have some female relatives and friends who are also married interracially. I share my experiences and thoughts in order to encourage and support other black women who are in interracial relationships or considering the possibility, and men who are interested in or in interracial relationships with black women.