Interracial Relationships: London vs Across The Pond
I read an article on the LAPP blog (a site founded by Leomie Anderson to promote positivity, confidence and unity through fashion and a platform to voice women issues) recently about interracial dating. I actually came across the article, entitled 'The Real Rap on Interracial Dating', by accident. I happened to be scrolling mindlessly when it popped up on my screen.
So clearly my interest stemmed from the fact that I'm in an interracial relationship myself, although having now written that and said it aloud sounds so strange to me because it's definitely not something I see as a distinctive feature of or way to describe my relationship.
Anyway, I expected to read the article and have 'haha, yep I get that!' or 'whoa, that's SO me!' moments but I got nothing, zero, nada, zilch. The further into the article I got the less I seemed relate with what Aubri, the girl who wrote it, said or felt. From scepticism about her then boyfriend dating her due to a possible 'black fetish', questioning whether a motive for interracial is to have mixed race babies to 'old white people staring'. Don't get me wrong, I'm in no way taking away from her experience and the comments she made are valid and can be very real issues but they are just things I never thought about when entering my relationship. It made me question whether I'm stupid to be naively colour blind in society that clearly has so many deeply embedded racial issues.
Maybe part of the reason why I don't see colour as such a big deal is because my grandmother (English) and grandfather (Nigerian) got together in the 1950's when such things were really frowned upon, but they still committed to be with each other despite this because on a level deeper than the colour of their skin they connected.
So, I was always brought up that way that it doesn't matter if you're pink, green, brown, white, yellow, whatever it's just skin and no-one really cares as long as you're in a happy and healthy relationship. Although clearly skin colour is something people really do care about, massively! When the film 'Get Out' (about an interracial couple where some messed up sh*t happens when he goes to visit her very white, very 'liberal' parents in their countryside home) came out a couple of months ago so many people said how much they related to it on an underlining level and how it represented many of the subliminal racial issues that cast a shadow on todays society. From the opening scene were the black guy aka Logan felt uneasy being in all white neighbourhood, to when Chris makes a point of asking Rose whether her parents know he's black. As though they need to be prepared and fully equipped to deal with interacting someone who is sooooo different to them purely because of the colour of his skin.
This brings us back to the original article because 'Get Out' mirrors a lot of the prejudices, or shall I say ignorances, that Aubri experienced from those around her because she was dating a white guy. It later dawned on me that was the point of view of a girl living in America writing it from an American point of view. Only then did it further drum home the point that f******ck things really are different over there. I always knew that America faced extreme racial tensions and of course racism is nowhere near non-existent in the world we live in, but reading Aubri's article was a fresh slap in the face that things still have a long way to go in terms of change. Now I understand Samuel L. Jackson's point more when he was questioning why the male lead in 'Get Out' was a black British actor rather than an African-American. He claimed that it would be more relatable if the lead was from America, because there interracial relationships are not the norm and people seem to have a lot more to say about it.
Here in London, I feel like it's not as big of an issue. Sure you get really traditional families that prefer you to date within your own ethnic group and would probably have a heart attack if you brought home someone different from that, but it's pretty common to see all sorts of couples in London walking down the street holding hands. So while Aubri's article may be entitled the 'Real Rap on Interracial Dating' I don't think that it it is general rule that applies universally. You could say that living in London, we are slightly more shielded from such issues and of course as a female I'm not subject to half as many of the issues that a black male may face. But living in a such a diverse city with such a myriad of people interacting freely with each other, you naturally see beyond the surface of colour. Whilst Aubri right that some people do enter interracial relationships for the wrong reasons, I think that there's no real one answer on how such relationships can be interpreted because everyone is so different and each experience is unique.
One thing that I definitely do agree with her on though is that regardless of who you chose to be with 'Be real with yourself. Be real with your partner. Educate each other [and] happy dating!'