• Give a Gift
  • Customer Service
  • Promotions
  • Videos
  • Blogs
  • Win
  • Games

April 12, 2012

Love and Race

Modern love can be summed up in one quick status update: It's complicated. In the first of a three-part series, we explore the role race plays in relationships.

Share
interracial couple

ENGAGED, TOGETHER FOR 7 YEARS Arielle Davis and Ian Julie

Photo Credit: Chris Buck

Special Offer

MIXED BLESSING
Half-black, half-white — how one woman discovered her romantic color-blind spot —By Anna Holmes

You are a girl who looks like the world," a friend once told me. I knew what she meant: My caramel-colored skin and curly hair, the product of a '70s-era marriage between a white Midwestern woman and a black Southern man, marked me as the living embodiment of the triumph of love at the time.

I was raised to be open-minded and curious. And my biracial heritage gave me a vantage point to see the world from different perspectives. But in my late teens and early 20s, this didn't prevent me from assuming my own racial blind spots, especially when it came to love. Turns out that the girl who "looked like the world" had a very muddled view of it. I didn't know who I was, or whom to trust.

When darker-skinned men wanted to date me, I assumed it was because they considered me a trophy for my light skin. It reminded me of seeing so many successful and powerful black males — politicians, businessmen, entertainers — who appeared alongside lighter-skinned, sometimes white female companions. Tokenism? It wasn't for me, so I either outright rejected black men or begrudgingly went on dates with them only to write them off well before the dessert course arrived.

Caucasian men were another problem: I didn't believe they saw me as a potential romantic partner, given that I knew so few white male/black female couples. And although I socialized and worked with white men, the romantic relationships I entered into with them were brief and unremarkable. I didn't trust them either, assuming they saw me as a novelty, as a way to sample another culture, or as a stand-in for all black women.

In hindsight, my distrust of men didn't get me far. I hadn't yet learned that giving others the benefit of the doubt was an important part of finding love, both from others and within myself. I was ignorant that appearances could be both deceiving and alienating — that my racialization of romance kept me at arm's length from deeper intimacy. Not trusting that white or black men would see beyond my skin color let me stay apart, aloof, even a little superior. It gave me an excuse to overlook the fact that I had trust issues with all men, that my hesitations and presumptions were less about fears of being rejected and more about my anxieties over really being seen.

Eventually I got over myself. In my mid-30s, I met and married a dark-haired white Australian. He was well-acquainted with interracial relationships — two of his sisters had babies with men of color — and was generally less concerned with appearances than I was. "Look, I'm darker than you!" he once pointed out after I'd tried — and failed — to get a tan while on vacation. It was a joke, but it was also true. I winced a little: The irony was not lost on me.


Share
Connect with Marie Claire:
Advertisement
horoscopes
daily giveaway
Unlimited Brunch!

Unlimited Brunch!

enter now
You Know You Want More
More From Relationship Advice
The 6 Reasons Even the Best Relationships End

Here's hoping that Bey and Jay Z pull through, though.

How One Woman Toured Eastern Europe Using Tinder

I wanted the insider info I wouldn't get from a tour guide.

post a comment

Special Offer
Link Your Marie Claire Account to Facebook
Welcome!

Marie Claire already has an account with this email address. Link your account to use Facebook to sign in to Marie Claire. To insure we protect your account, please fill in your password below.

Forgot Password?

Thanks for Joining

Your information has been saved and an account has been created for you giving you full access to everything marieclaire.com and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your username and/or password or complete your profile, click here.

Continue
Your accounts are now linked

You now have full access to everything Marie Claire and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your settings or profile, click here.

Continue