Tuesday, March 6, 2007

i know what you’re thinking and i don’t care

I don’t get up in the morning and think to myself, Hey, I’m in an interracial relationship. Race is such a non-issue for me in my daily life that I don’t really think about it at all. But occasionally, I am reminded.

On Friday, Jesse and I had a date night. We went out to dinner at Rock Bottom in Ballston (you all know that I look down on chain restaurants but I’ve actually never had a bad meal at Rock Bottom). Since it was a Friday night, there was quite a wait for dinner so Jesse and I walked over to the nearby bookstore to do some perusing.

A little bit later Jesse decided that it was time to leave the store and head back to the restaurant (we didn’t really know what our pager’s range was). As we were walking out, I stealthily made a move for Jesse’s hand. Jesse has never been a fan of public displays of affection (although hand-holding is a very mild, almost harmless display), but I like to have my hand held so, every once in a while, I’ll sneak my hand into his.

As I went in for the hold, I looked up and saw an older woman sitting outside of the Starbucks. She had to be pretty close to 70 (if she wasn’t already there) and was sitting with her grandchild (presumably) while sipping her coffee. I’m not sure how long she had been looking at us, but she had the nastiest look on her face. In fact, I would go so far as to say that she had a look of contempt. And it was directed towards me. Or rather, me and Jesse.

She very well could’ve been upset because we were holding hands. After all, some people aren’t comfortable with PDAs (again, I just want to state that I don’t think hand holding is a big deal). But that mall was probably full of horny teenagers who do more than just hold hands in public so a pair of consenting adults (approaching 30) holding hands shouldn’t be that big of a deal, right?

Deep down I knew where her contempt came from. It appears that the old lady was uncomfortable with the fact that the person whose hand I was holding has a skin color that just so happens to be darker than mine. Eh. Whatevs. Maybe a few months ago that would’ve really bothered me. I would’ve dwelled on it until I could dwell on it no more. I would’ve wondered out loud to anyone that would hear me (and probably on this blog), why is it that we’re still getting upset about a person’s skin color? It’s 2007, not 1960.

So what did I do? Did I say anything to the old lady?

No, I didn’t.

However, I did give her the biggest smile ever. Why? Because I’m happy and in love and that’s really all that matters.


I-66 said...

What matters in the end is that you're happy, regardless of the color of the skin of the person you're with.

Before I tell you this, I should tell you that I'm half black and half korean - and tend in appearance towards the former, with the exception of my very asian-seeming eyes...

I was in my junior year of high school in 1997 (I grew up in the burbs here). I was slated to take a girl to homecoming who is white. I happened to be over at her house when her mother came home and I got to meet her. A day later, while at home, the girl called me in tears and told me that her mother didn't think she should go to homecoming with someone of a different color than she because "people might start to think things."

1997. We haven't come as far as we think we have.

Anonymous said...

Imagine what it was like for inter-racial couples 20 or 30 years ago. There is such a couple who live on my block. As far as I can tell they have been married for decades. I've often wondered how hard it was for them to get together and stay together for all the reasons you talked about. For what it's worth they seem very happy together after all these years. --Erika

Anonymous said...

PS--I bet that big smile royally pissed that woman off. Good for you. Erika

lizzie said...

i-66, thanks for sharing your story. i'm very sorry that happened to you. i didn't want to elaborate too much on this in my post but your comment prompted me to say that we've still got a long way to go. and it's very, very sad that people are still being judged on their skin 'rather than the content of their character.' i sometimes wonder what will happen when jesse and i have babies. i wish i could say that they will live in a world much better than this one, but i'm not sure that will be true. perhaps it's naive of me to hope that they will be accepted unconditionally.

erika--thanks for the comment. couples like the one you know paved the way for couples like me and jesse. it's awesome that they are still very happy together.

i really do hope my smile pissed that woman off.

copper stiletto said...

I can so relate! I never take an antagonistic stance, but when backed against a wall, you may not be pleased with the result. If you dont like what you are seeing, then dont look! real simple. If you continue to stare, I will put on a show for you! My love is for me, not for everyone else!

Way to go!!!

lizzie said...

thank you, CS. i agree with you completely.