Glances? Weird Comments? Here is how interracial couples should deal.
Sometimes, the best way to deal with such awkward moments is laugh at the someone.
“As much as we hear that interracial couples have become more common and are acceptable, people like to pretend that they don’t get stared at and get extra attention, but they do,” says Erica Chito Childs, associate professor of sociology at Hunter College and author of Navigating Interracial Borders: Black-White Couples and Their Social Worlds. “The standards of behavior and etiquette when it comes to interacting with them can really often go out the window”
Much as we have interracial relationships on TV, much as Kim Kardashian is married to Kanye West, and much its 2014, people will still stare at you guys… a lot! People will still smack comments your way.
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So seeing as we have decided to stop being in denial about the fact that interracial couples are viewed as different and that they do spark too much attention, how does a couple deal?
1. Take comfort in assuming 84% of America doesn’t see you as evil.
They say more than 80% of Americans approve of interracial marriage. If this is so, then as a couple it is safe to assume that each stare isn't always an evil eye coming your way. In other cases, especially in predominantly black or predominantly white neighborhoods, interracial couples are a rare site. And it is normal for someone’s eyes to dawdle for a moment because maybe they are seeing an interracial couple for the first time.
At the same time, some of these comments are meant to ooze awkwardness. May be someone you gave that overcompensating comment because they didn’t really know what to say.
Just remember all that attention has more to do with cultural context than it does you as individuals.
2. Choose places you hang out strategically.
This doesn’t mean you ditch your social life in order to avoid scrutiny. Here is an example:
Clay, a white man married to a black woman in Houston used to go for country music concerts. However, they used to get negative attention when there. So they figured, its not worth the burden and made a decision: “We don’t really like the music anyway; we don’t need to do that again.”
If you go to a place and get negative vibe from the people there, what you need to ask yourself is: How significant is that particular event in your life? If its just for entertainment, is it worth the trouble? If its work or maybe religious, then in that case, no one expects you to give up such great opportunities just because people will stare.
The thing is, if the people at an event aren’t comfortable with you as a couple, or make you uncomfortable just being around them, then maybe these aren’t people you should be hanging out with.
3. Weigh your own relationship.
Is your interracial relationship worth it? Are you secure in it? If yes, then all the stares and people’s opinions about it won’t bother you much. But if people’s assumptions about your relationship heighten your own identity issues or make you feel like the sell-out they may have labeled you, then you need to discuss these things with your partner. Once you resolve these issues and maybe realize how solid your love is, you will find yourself less fixated over what people really think about your relationship.
4. Consider the possibility that maybe the attention is positive.
There was this white guy, a department store employee who was obsessed by the racial composition of Clay's family. “… and he would not let it go!” said Clay. What Clay did was find out why this guy was that curious about his interracial family. Turns out he had just started dating a black woman and was jazzed by the fact that Clay’s relationship was a good one. So in short he was looking at this family as some sort of role models.
Much as it initially made Clay feel awkward, it came from a genuine place. Not everyone who stares at you is seeing your skin color. Maybe just are just admiring you guys… Maybe they are just happy that there is another couple in a similar relationship. It’s a possibility. Consider it.
5. Stand up for yourself.
If the stares are too much or too unbearable, ask politely: "May I help you?"
According to Childs,“Sometimes they don’t even recognize they’re doing it… the person will quickly become embarrassed and walk away.”
But if it makes you feel like your rights have been violated in any way, if it’s a store, ask to speak to the manager. Air your concerns and violations.
6. Have fun.
You could turn this into something fun. If they are staring, stare right back at them. If they ask ridiculous questions, don’t volunteer any information. So long is its not violent or insulting, its never that serious. All that matters is your happiness, not theirs. Its all a matter of perspective.
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