This is a long time coming...
You know that funk I've been in? Well it all stems from this one hurt that I haven't had the words to find. That is until this morning when they finally exploded out of me onto Jersey...words and lots of tears.
I have issues for the first time with being an interracial couple…
I’m one of those people who puts lots of importance into the dreams I have…sometimes I think they help me see a future I need to keep striving towards (like that one time I dreamed I was at the Oscars and all I saw was the black ankle strap to my heel) while other times my dreams paint some current issue that I need to process and work through. They’re always important…always have meaning. Whether anyone else chooses to believe that or not I still wake up each morning going, “Whoa!,” reaching for my notebook to write stuff down before it disappears.
For the last three nights I’ve had the same dream over and over again about race that’s just been eating at me.
In the past month I’ve heard the N word being used by non-black people and it was really irking the crap out of me. Here’s my deal. I don’t really care for the word period, but if my kid brother is defiant about sounding like an idiot then what can I do. He’s black…if he chooses to attempt to “reclaim the word” as rappers and black celebrities have taught him to, then have fun trying that out…I can’t say the same for folks who aren’t black and use the word. There’s nothing to reclaim. You’ve never been called the word. (Everything but the burden.)You’ve never felt how tangible the word can be…It seriously can cut, punch and suck the life out of me…
And I get mad…like murder red angry/Othello types of wrath that are almost impossible to control. I’m not proud of that anger, but it’s a hundred different instances of racist remarks that were flung at me as a kid…words used to hurt and destroy my spirit before I was strong enough to fight back…all neatly tucked in different areas of my throat waiting to explode.
I tried to explain this pain to Jersey and that’s when something changed. When we first started dating I didn’t think twice about our racial differences. He got me on so many levels and (I thought) understood what it felt like to be racially burned/scrutinized/picked on and shamed…but me sitting there explaining the word…well I knew we weren’t on exactly the same path and I started bawling. Three nights worth of dreams and I finally had to come clean because the pain I was carrying alone was eating at me.
It still hurts…which is why I’m still crying. I love that man, God knows I do, but a little slice of that innocent easy love chipped away when I had to explain that for once I felt alone…That I needed to know he would have my back (meaning I didn’t know if he truly did.) I needed him to jump racial lines if ever the need and defend a culture and a family that didn’t belong to him but one he married into and respected. We all talk about being colorless and all that namby pamby. I think that’s impossible and irresponsible. There’s nothing wrong with honoring and “seeing” race. Being black is my story…even when I didn’t know better…even when I thought I was white because I have a white mom, step-father and sisters and STILL called the N word I had a black story…my black experience.
So I told him all of this…and I could tell it hurt him because it defined us as different for probably the first conscientious time in our relationship, but it was eating at me.
There’s something desperate in my need to talk this out. Write it down. Let folks know I’m not okay with their casual use of a word that was slung at my people to remind them they were less than for far too long. There was a desperate need to get Jersey on board. Let him know I’m not going to sit in a circle and defend why the word is bad to his friends. That’s now something he has to start doing. He now has to let his friends know I understand and know how to say “black” in Tagalog…and that I’m very much aware of the tone in which they’re discussing black people right in front of me. Is that fair? I don’t know, but it comes with the ring he put on this particular finger. It’s just the way it is for me. And I would do the same for him!
I don’t have too many friends in my situation so I haven’t been able to talk about this with anyone. I have to find similar shoes soon though before I go mad.
In last night’s dream Jersey and I were hanging out with the couple who won the Knot Dream Wedding contest (yeah random and stalkerish but whatever) and I was looking at them and thinking to myself, “You two deserved to win more than us because we don’t have our ish together yet.” and it’s true. We have some work to do. I need to figure out so many things…the first being why this stuff decided to pop up now AFTER we decided to become engaged. A bit backwards, but at least it came.
So now I’m working on that. I swear a part of me just wants to go to my nearest Black History event and soak up that invisible thread of ‘knowing and understanding’ floating between people celebrating around me. I’ve been craving my peoples’ stories and presence like no other. Now it’s about the balance I’ll seek while trying to create my own NAACP-like atmosphere in the home I’m creating.