Wednesday, June 13, 2007

not just another post about my boyfriend

Three years ago Tuesday, when I first noticed my boyfriend, I was drawn to his arms. They are muscular. Oooh, I bet I could melt away in those arms, I thought. I just wanted to drown in his embrace. Three years later, I still do.

The next thing I noticed was his smile. It literally lit up the Dupont Italian Kitchen patio. When he sat down next to me, I then noticed his gentle, sweet demeanor. He was incredibly unassuming, yet charismatic and funny. Immediately, I knew he was trouble (the good kind, it turns out). A crush was born.

As the weeks went on and we continued to date, I would describe him to my friends. He’s a year older than me. He went to Virginia Tech and he’s a proud Hokie (is there another kind?). He works in IT. He’s incredibly smart. The list would go on and on. In describing Jesse, the last thing on my mind was his skin color. I rarely mentioned that he is black. You’re probably thinking that I was ashamed or afraid of people’s reactions (if you’re thinking this, you definitely don’t know me) because I was with a black guy. But the truth is that I’ve always been blind to his skin color. It simply doesn’t matter.

Race has never mattered to me. A person’s ethnicity is a complete and total non-issue for me. Race doesn’t define you. When I tell you that I’m Mexican, what do you think? Do you think I can’t speak English very well (not if you read this blog regularly)? Do you think I’m lazy (I can be, but only after I’m tired from working hard)? Do you assume I’m an immigrant (I’m not but my parents were)? I am not defined by all of those stereotypes that are associated with my ethnicity. In fact, those stereotypes have nothing to do with me. So why would I hold anyone else to them?

The problem is that race continues to be an issue in this country. Up until 40 years ago, interracial marriage was considered illegal. Virginia couple Mildred and Richard Loving (a black woman and her white husband) defended their right to marry (and have their marriage recognized by the state of Virginia) all the way to the Supreme Court. In an era when over half of the population opposed interracial marriage, the Loving’s victory in Loving v. Virginia struck down all state bans on interracial marriage and effectively secured the freedom to marry as a civil right (that is, if you’re heterosexual, but that’s a whole different post). Clearly, the decision was groundbreaking.

Just because a person’s skin color doesn’t matter to me doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate the significance of this decision. I realize that hate continues to exist. But because a person’s skin color doesn’t matter to me, I can’t understand why this hate exists. I don’t know why people hate illegal immigrants so much. I don’t get why people automatically attribute a rise in crime to blacks. I don’t know why some people look at Jesse and me, happily holding hands in public, with such hate or disgust. Perhaps I’ll never know.

I hope that my future children will never have to know this world—a world where race is still an issue. I hope that no one will ever look at them and judge them because of what they look like. Most importantly, I hope to provide a good example and show them to look beyond the color of a person’s skin.

We may have come a long way since Loving v. Virginia, but sadly, we’ve still got a long way to go.


photobugchick said...

I hear you loud and clear my friend. If everyone thought like you, the world would be a different place.

Whenever Dennis and I go home it's always a struggle because where I come from, white folks don't date puerto ricans, unless you are 'trailer trash'. Nobody close to me has ever mentioned the skin color difference...but of course those are the people who matter.

sunchaser said...

What a sweet story! :)

I was listening to the Loving vs. Virginia story on NPR yesterday. Things have gotten a little better since those days (in that at least it's not illegal) but it's really a shame that peoples' attitudes about interracial marriage aren't significantly better than they were 40 years ago.

Anonymous said...

As usual, love your post! A few random, scattershot thoughts... am I the only one who thinks it's signfiicant that the people who brought the suit are named Loving... Most of these people who are racist probably go to church or synagog or mosque. It's incomprehensible to me that someone can worship God and still judge fellow humans by their skin...I have a weakness for muscular arms too...erika

lizzie said...

photobugchick--thanks! if everyone thought like me, my life would be so much easier! :) But i digress...

i'm sorry you and dennis have gone through similar struggles. at least you have the right attitude. if dennis' race/skin color/background doesn't matter to you, it really shouldn't matter to the people who love you and want you to be happy.

sunchaser--i agree. it's hard to believe that something that seems like such a simple, basic human right (to love whomever you want and to express that love through a lifetime commitment) used to be illegal.

erika--i'm totally with you on the whole 'loving' thing. you're not the only one who has noticed that. it's kinda bittersweet in a way. it's almost like the name of the case pretty much tells you what you need to know about it.

on your point about religion, these are also the same people who are anything but tolerant of gays and their rights to marry and have families (again, a whole other blog post, but i still have to make that point).

i'm glad you share my weakness of buff arms. such a turn on to just hold on to that muscular bicep...